New Haas signing Nikita Mazepin has thanked his team for helping guide him through his ‘huge mistake’ and says he is taking responsibility for his actions. Last December, Nikita Mazepin became embroiled in controversy after a video was uploaded to his Instagram account that showed the camera holder groping and grabbing at a woman in the back seat of a car.
The resulting backlash prompted the new rookie signing to go to ground on social media, with the hashtag #WeSayNoToMazepin trending as fans showed their discontent with the behaviour shown in the video.
Mazepin has been largely silent on the issue but faced the media, including FormulaSpy, on Thursday as Haas revealed their new look VF21 and a new title sponsorship in the form of Uralkali – the Russian potash fertiliser company owned by Nikita’s father Dmitry.
Faced with a barrage of questions about the incident, Mazepin spoke out and said he had made a ‘huge mistake’: “I’m a racing driver and I’ve been one for the best part of my life, to be exact for 15 years out of 22, which I’ve just turned recently. So, as a driver, you just focus on your job because it is very demanding when you’re on track. You try not to make mistakes outside of the circuits. It happens that I’ve made a huge mistake. I’ve taken responsibility for it and I’ve learned from it. And I’m looking forward to a clean year ahead.”
“How it affected 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 being in Formula 1. In the transition phase of realising what I have achieved being very short, I didn’t adapt as quick as I should have had. But I’m taking responsibility for it. And I’m ready to keep doing it.”
Mazepin was asked about whether he understood the behaviour wasn’t fitting at a human level, aside from the standards expected of a Formula 1 driver, with the Russian driver saying he’s aiming to turn a page.
“I understand and am taking the responsibility for it. As I said previously, both on and off the circuit, we as human beings have to show a certain behaviour towards each other to live in a calm and humanity world. So I’m confident that I will be one of those humans from now.”
Mazepin made it clear that he felt he was not responsible for uploading the video onto social media in the first place, saying: “There is no confusion from my side. I take responsibility for my actions, and I’m very firm on that and that I’ve learned and in regards to the video coming onto social media, I can say it wasn’t my hands that have put it there.”
While Haas released a statement shortly after the incident, saying they would deal with the matter internally, there has been no indication from the team as to the nature of how they aimed to either punish their new signing, or offer him guidance. With Mazepin on the edge of making his F1 debut with a team that is now reliant on his family for financial support, Nikita thanked Haas for their understanding and guidance through the incident: “[They’ve been] Very helpful. First of all, 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. They’ve been very patient in taking the time and helping me learn this matter further. I think that in my education phase on the whole behaviour incident, I’m way further than I’ve ever been. So that’s very helpful.”
Mazepin stopped short of saying that he had apologised to the woman shown in the video, a model based in the United Arab Emirates, saying: “I think privacy matters is very important. In this case, I don’t think it would be correct for me to bring other people into this very wide media discussion, and therefore I’m not going to do that.”