Formula 1: Here’s why Nikita Mazepin wasn’t punished

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

FIA president Jean Todt revealed why Nikita Mazepin did not end up losing his ride with Haas for the 2021 Formula 1 season after his controversial video.

Nikita Mazepin is set to make his Formula 1 debut later this month at Bahrain International Circuit driving for Haas, which also signed reigning Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher amid a complete overhaul of their lineup from the last four seasons.

But many feel that the 22-year-old Russian should not be here, and it’s based on more than the usual “daddy’s money” argument we hear whenever a rich kid ends up with a ride in any form of motorsport.

Mazepin, who has been involved in more than his fair share of controversies in the past, landed in the spotlight for the wrong reason yet again in December, just days after signing a contract with the sport’s lone American team.

A video was posted on his Instagram story in which he reached for a woman’s shirt and grabbed her breasts.

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The video was filmed inside a car, with Mazepin in the passenger seat and the woman sitting behind him. As he grabbed her, she tried to push him away before ultimately giving him the middle finger, at which point the video ended.

Many called for Mazepin to be canned, especially given Formula 1’s recent #WeRaceAsOne initiative and their alleged interest in human rights and equality. But despite the widespread use of the #WeSayNoToMazepin hashtag and Haas referring to his action in the video as “abhorrent”, he ultimately retained his ride for the 2021 season, as most expected.

Given Mazepin’s history, this led to more questions than answers. But FIA president Jean Todt says that it would have been “discrimination” to punish him, based on the fact that he meets the requirements to compete in the series.

Here is what Todt had to say about the matter, according to F1i.

"“To drive in Formula 1, you need to have a superlicence. And it’s not easy to get a superlicence because you need to have 40 points. So each driver who gets 40 points can pretend [qualify] to be in Formula 1. And Mazepin got the points. So it would be discrimination. Why shouldn’t he drive in Formula 1? The reason why he would not drive in Formula 1 is he could not have access to a superlicence, which is not the case.”"

However, he did go on to add that if Mazepin should commit yet another mistake of gargantuan proportions, he would face “serious consequences”.

Mazepin, who many fans perceive as Formula 1’s version of Little Lord Fauntleroy, has vowed to learn from his mistake, but given his checkered past (to put it very nicely), it remains to be seen if he is capable of doing so.

He had been slated to make his Formula 1 debut on Sunday, March 21 at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit in the Australian Grand Prix, but that race was postponed to Sunday, November 21 as a result of coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions.

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Preseason testing is scheduled to take place from Friday, March 12 to Sunday, March 14 at Bahrain International Circuit, which is scheduled to host the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, March 28.