Nikita Mazepin takes Formula 1 back to the 90s
Nikita Mazepin is undoubtedly a controversial figure and with some describing him as the antithesis of #WeRaceAsOne, Henry Lloyd gives his verdict
I am sure by now that any F1 viewer with enough interest to know who Nikita Mazepin is will have already formed strong opinions on the rookie driver, without him having completed a single race lap yet in his career. His apparent lack of control and self-discipline is evidenced in his on and off-track performances.
The young Russian’s rise to Formula 1, on the surface, appears to be comparable to other past and present drivers with huge financial backing, with the likes of Lance Stroll, Lando Norris and Nicolas Latifi also having their careers until the top flight of motorsport bankrolled by their fathers.
Yet Nikita is in reality a whole different kettle of fish, having finished 5th in the 2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship, with 2 feature race wins, beating Haas teammate, Mick Schumacher, in both. Therefore it could be argued that he is deserving of his seat at Haas this year.
If we trust the chronological order of this years release of Drive to Survive; the meeting being held between Guenther Steiner and 1&1, having taken place after the British rounds in August, but before the Eifel Grand Prix at the start of October; in which UralKali is clearly seen plastered all of Haas 2021 uniform mockups, the decision to sign Mazepin, and in turn the money and sponsorship of his father, Dmitry Mazepin, had already been made well in advance of this period, irrespective of Nikita’s performances in the championship.
Certainly, it, therefore, begs no question that he should be designated a pay driver. With skill alone, he would most likely have been beaten to an F1 seat this year by the likes of Callum Illiot, the runner up in last year’s Formula 2 Championship.
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But the rise of Nikita Mazepin to the top tier of motorsport isn’t the first embarrassment for the sport; just look back to the 90s with the likes of Andrea Moda or MasterCard Lola, and more recently with the disastrous 2019 season had by Mazepin’s current employer; it is no surprise that the young Russian will become the next joke of Formula 1 after the rather hilarious Rich Energy debacle.
Comparisons of his behaviour could of course be made to the likes of James Hunt and the other wild young drivers of years gone past, and yet that would be a disservice to the very crucible of motorsport, as drivers like Hunt made it to Formula 1 with the level of discernible talent incomparable to the others around them; a level we are yet to see from Mazepin.
Sadly, as in the words of Sir Lewis Hamilton, ‘cash is king’ in Formula 1, and I would put money on the fact that we will all have to endure Mazepin madness for many years to come; but you never know, he might just surprise us.