Nikita Mazepin says Haas has been very helpful in guiding him through the past few months since he was widely condemned for posting a video on social media.
The 21-year-old posted a video of him groping a female in the back of a car in December last year, shortly after being announced as a Haas driver for 2021. Mazepin has received strong criticism for his actions in the time since and continues to do so, and with Haas saying it was dealing with the matter internally he says the team has been extremely supportive.
“I would like to say a big thank you to the team because they have been really supportive in helping me to learn through this incident,” Mazepin said. “They have been very patient in taking the time and helping me learn this matter further and I think that it in my education phase on the whole behavior incident, I am way further than I have ever been, so that’s very helpful.”
As he has done little media since last year, much of Mazepin’s press conference after the new Haas car was launched focused on his actions, and he regularly stated he has learned from it without providing specific details.
“How I reflect on my actions is pretty clear. I’m not happy that it happened. I’m not proud of it, I didn’t behave as I meant to behave in Formula 1, and the transition phase of realizing what I achieved has been very short and I didn’t adapt as quickly as I should have. But I have taken responsibility for it and I am ready to keep doing it because I’d like to be very strong in my position and certain.
“Graduating to Formula 1 and being a Formula 1 driver means that all of a sudden you become a sort of example to a lot of young kids who are aiming to get to the same championship. With that, you have to bring a certain way of behavior towards yourself. I was too late to realize that, unfortunately. In regards to what I’ve learned, it’s quite clear that first of all the behavior you’re meant to bring to yourself, and secondly how you’re meant to act on social media and off social media.”
When it was put to Mazepin that he regularly references the expectations of an F1 driver, and whether he understood his actions were being scrutinized simply as a human, he replied: “Yes, I understand.
“I have taken the responsibility for it as I said previously both on and off the circuit. We as human beings have to show a certain behavior towards each other to live in a calm and humane world, and I’m confident I will be one of those humans from now on.”
Haas announced title sponsorship from Uralkali — the Russian potash fertilizer producer that is controlled by his father Dmitry — that includes a change in livery this year, but ahead of his F1 debut Mazepin says he intends on shaking off any pay driver tag through on-track performances.
“Formula 1 is not race walking. It really does require a package of things to arrive to F1. Every single driver has acquired a certain package in one way or another. You have to have a team around you to get into a team.
“I am not the only driver who’s having to deal with it but it doesn’t really bother me because I am proud of my family, proud of my father and I am not taking this in a negative way. I would like to also add that it is a challenge that I have to prove myself in F1 and I am going to do it.”