Formula 1: Nikita Mazepin video causes widespread outrage

Nikita Mazepin, Haas, Formula 1 (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Nikita Mazepin, Haas, Formula 1 (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) /

2021 Haas Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin has attracted widespread criticism after positing a video on social media of him inappropriately touching a woman.

Nikita Mazepin, who recently signed with Formula 1‘s lone American team, has since removed the post from his Instagram story and issued a statement apologizing for his actions.

This follows an insensitive tweet which he posted on Tuesday, November 17 which read: “1 year since the guy in Wuhan ate a bat. Happy birthday covid.”

He wrote the following to address the video:

"“I would like to apologise for my recent actions both in terms of my own inappropriate behaviour and the fact that it was posted on social media. I am sorry for the offense I have rightly caused and to the embarrassment I have brought to Haas F1 Team. I have to hold myself to a higher standard as a Formula 1 driver and I acknowledge I have let myself and many people down. I promise I will learn from this.”"

The video in question, which has now been removed from his story, showed him inappropriately touching a woman in the chest as she tried to resist.

She has now identified herself as close friend of Mr. Mazepin, model Andrea D’lVal. She issued her own statement on Instagram after it went viral.

"“Hey everyone, I just want to let you know that Nikita and I have been good friends for a long time and there was nothing serious about the video. We trust each other so much and this was a silly way of joking between us. I posted this video on his story as an internal joke. I am truly sorry. I can give you my word he’s really a good person and he would never do anything to hurt or humiliate me.”"

Almost as soon as the video was posted, the hashtag #WeSayNoToMazepin started trending with fans, journalists and senior figures in the industry, calling for Mazepin to have his racing licence suspended, which would prevent him from competing in the 2021 season with Haas.

A petition has been set up to remove Mazepin from Formula 1 on and has already reached over 24,000 signatures.

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Other fans have discussed F1’s mantra of #WeRaceAsOne, where the drivers and team personnel stand together in a moment of solidarity against racism and discrimination in any form before every Grand Prix, in regard to Mazepin’s actions.

Many members of the community feel that F1 needs to take a strong stance and should suspend him with immediate effect while they devise a suitable punishment for him. If they do not do so, it would give the impression that F1 has not, in fact, moved on in promoting gender equality within the sport.

Haas condemned Mazepin’s actions and said:

"“Haas F1 Team does not condone the behavior of Nikita Mazepin in the video recently posted on his social media. Additionally, the very fact that the video was posted on social media is also abhorrent to Haas F1 Team. The matter is being dealt with internally and no further comment shall be made at this time.”"

This comes off the back of a poor Formula 2 season finale for Mazepin which posed questions about his driving. In the Sakhir Grand Prix feature race, the 21-year-old Russian pushed two drivers off the track in the closing stages, which saw him pick up two five-second penalties for dangerous driving, dropping him from third to ninth position.

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner told that the team “had their work cut out” and “need to learn from this and see that these mistakes are not done.”

Mazepin has a history of being an aggressive personality. After he was blocked by Callum Ilott during a qualifying session while competing in 2016 European Formula 3, Mazepin had an altercation with the British driver. He was given a one-race ban for the incident.

Ultimately, he finished in fifth place in the 2020 Formula 2 driver standings, which was enough for him to gain the necessary superlicence points to race in F1. But it is no secret that one of the reasons Haas signed him is to bring in the necessary funding to the team, as his father Dmitry is a billionaire Russian businessman.

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But after this latest episode, before he has even taken to F1, will Haas reconsider whether the financial gain is worth it?