Formula 1: Nikita Mazepin responds to self-inflicted controversy

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

Nikita Mazepin finally addressed the self-inflicted controversy that upset many in the world of Formula 1 and beyond nearly three months ago.

Back in early December, after he was confirmed by the Haas Formula 1 team for the 2021 season, Nikita Mazepin posted a video on his Instagram story of himself reaching for a woman’s shirt and grabbing her breasts as she sat in the back of a car in which he sat in the passenger seat.

Many called for the 22-year-old Russian, whose racing career is backed heavily by his billionaire father Dmitry, the majority shareholder and chair of Uralchem Integrated Chemicals Company, to be axed from the sport’s lone American team even before he began competing.

The hashtag #WeSayNoToMazepin was launched in response to the FIA’s #WeRaceAsOne campaign from the 2020 season to urge the sport to take a stand against Mazepin and avoid being deemed hypocrites for their supposed interest in equality and human rights.

Alas, Mazepin was not fired and is still set to compete alongside reigning Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher at Haas following two seasons in Formula 2.

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Now, less than two weeks before the start of preseason testing at Bahrain International Circuit and less than a month from the scheduled start of the 2021 season at the same venue, Mazepin has finally addressed the video.

Of course, he had issued an apology after the video went viral, but he deleted that apology from his Twitter account, along with many other tweets which he had made in the past. No other comments had been made about the situation.

Here is what Mazepin had to say earlier this week about the self-inflicted controversy, according to ESPN.

"“First of all it’s very important to say that my actions in December about the whole incident were incorrect. I do take the full responsibility for it. It was a very big learning experience and I can confidently say that I’m much further in my knowledge on this kind of matter than I used to be, so there’s a small bit of positivity there.“I’m not proud of it. It’s important to progress. The people who are with me over the past 21 years know who I am. It’s very difficult to be fake for people and I’m far from that. I will be myself outside of the track, like I’ve been. I’ve had my ups and my lows, but that’s part of life. I think the racing should do the speaking, mostly.“I believe I’m a very good racer on track, I believe I’m a fast racer. I’m actually looking forward to the challenge of showing people who might not like me at the moment that I have great racing skills, that hopefully changes the perception of me.”"

Many fans will question Mazepin’s statement, and justifiably so. He has been involved in countless other incidents both on and off the track in recent seasons, including others involving the objectification of women, and there have never been any sort of consequences that have actually made an impact on his ensuing behavioral decisions.

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Time will tell if he will learn and grow from this situation, and I’m sure we all hope that that does end up being the case. Preseason testing is scheduled to take place from Friday, March 12 to Sunday, March 14, and the Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled to get the 2021 season underway on Sunday, March 28.