Nikita Mazepin, Haas, 2020

Nikita Mazepin

Haas announced Nikita Mazepin as part of an all-new driver line-up for the 2021 F1 season while the 21-year-old was still in contention for the Formula 2 title.

Advert | Become a Supporter & go ad-free

However he had already tested a Formula 1 car for the first time four years earlier, at Silverstone.

Mazepin’s international karting career culminated in second place in the 2014 CIK-FIA World Championship with Tony Kart. He moved up to single seaters that year, taking part in India-based Formula 2000 category MRF Challenge over the winter.

His next step was Formula Renault 2.0 and Toyota Winter Series campaigns though he struggled for results in both, finishing 12th and 16th respectively. A move to European F3 the following year looked like a hasty graduation, and Mazepin ended the year 20th in the standings. Nor did he distinguish himself with his conduct, throwing punches at rival Callum Ilott at the Hungaroring, which earned him a one-round ban.

Despite his mixed results, Mazepin was signed to Force India as a development driver in 2016 and completed a test at Silverstone.

A move to GP3 with ART in 2018 saw a change in fortunes and form for Mazepin. He won four times and added fourth more podium finishes on his way to second in the championship 16 points behind Anthoine Hubert.

The following year he graduated to Formula 2 with ART for what proved an unproductive year. Mazepin finished the season 18th and attracted attention for the wrong reasons through his role in a first-lap crash at Sochi which earned him an exceptionally high four-point licence endorsement.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

He continued to raise his profile in Formula 1, however, testing for world champions Mercedes during the season. He set the fastest lap of his test day at the Circuit de Catalunya, lapping only 0.2 seconds off Valtteri Bottas’s time in the same car the previous day.

For 2020 he joined new entrants Hitech, which had benefited from his billionaire father’s investment, and he adapted well to the new 18-inch wheels introduced that year. Mazepin won twice, lost another win at Spa when the stewards penalised him for forcing Yuki Tsunoda off-track, and was lying third in the championship when Haas put his name to a 2021 F1 contract.

In December 2020 Haas confirmed Mazepin would join the team as part of an all-rookie line-up at the team with Formula 2 rival Mick Schumacher for the following year. However eight days after the announcement Mazepin was involved in a scandal when he posted a video of himself groping a woman on one of his social media accounts. Haas criticised his behaviour and described the publication of the video as “abhorrent”, but as the year drew to a close confirmed he would not lose his seat over the footage, which prompted widespread outrage.

Pictures

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free