Formula 1: More Nikita Mazepin controversy emerges

Nikita Mazepin, Haas, Formula 1 (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)
Nikita Mazepin, Haas, Formula 1 (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) /

Nikita Mazepin has made headlines for all the wrong reasons during this Formula 1 offseason, and now he is back again for yet another bizarre reason. This one, however, is out of his control.

Among the new arrivals to Formula 1 for the 2021 season is Haas rookie Nikita Mazepin, who spent the last two seasons competing in Formula 2 and won two races en route to a fifth place finish in the driver standings in 2020 after a disappointing 18th place finish in 2019.

Mazepin has been in the news quite often over the last several months, and for all the wrong reasons.

Mainly, after Formula 1’s lone American team confirmed him in their driver lineup for the 2021 season, he posted a video in a car during which he reached for a woman’s chest and began grabbing her breasts.

The incident only added to the 21-year-old Russian’s checkered past, which includes multiple instances of blatant misbehavior both on and off the track.

Now he is back in the news for more controversy.

This time, however, it has nothing to do with anything he has any sort of control over.

It has to do with his nationality.

Mazepin recently made comments about how he felt he was targeted due to being Russian. While, quite frankly, those comments are off-base when considering how past Russian drivers have been treated in the sport — and the very fact that Mazepin has made it this far — now they may actually have a bit more merit.

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Because Mazepin may not be able to compete in Formula 1 under the Russian flag.

In December, the international sports tribunal CAS reached a verdict in the Russian doping case. That ultimately led to Russia not being allowed to participate in sporting events for the next two years.

This punishment was targeted at keeping the country out of the Olympics, but it will have more effects than just that. Mazepin and other Russian athletes can still compete, but not under the Russian flag.

In fact, we recently saw this during the Monte Carlo Rally in January. Nikolay Gryazin was forced to start as a “neutral” driver, despite hailing from Russia himself.

Here is what Alexey Popov, a Formula 1 commentator for Match TV, had to say about the matter.

"“There is a solution. In many sports, they now compete under the flag of the national sports federation, in this case, it would be the Russian Automobile Federation.”"

Further issues could arise should the Russian national anthem need to be played for a Mazepin victory, but the odds of a meteor strike are effectively much higher than that happening for the Haas rookie.

Popov added the following.

"“As for the anthem, we’ll see, but you’d have to be a strong optimist to imagine him winning at Haas in the first year. But the flag is everywhere – over the circuit, over the garages, on the overalls. It wouldn’t be very pleasant to be deprived of that.”"

As a byproduct of this decision, the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi Autodrom, scheduled to take place on Sunday, September 26, could be renamed the Sochi Grand Prix or the Krasnodar Grand Prix.

Popov addressed this as well.

"“The main factor here is that it is commercial. The contract was signed long before this story so there is no right to alter that now.”"

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The 2021 season is scheduled to get underway in under two months on Sunday, March 28 with the Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit.