Nikita Dmitryevich Mazepin is an F1 driver who races for Haas F1 team. He is racing his rookie season for Haas, and has been paired with Mick Schumacher. However, Schumacher is universally preferred to Mazepin, both for on-track and off-track reasons.
Off the track, Schumacher is the son of F1 legend and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. He is an impeccably-mannered personality who seems to possess a degree of maturity and level-headedness far beyond his years.
The same cannot be said for Mazepin, who is the son of a Russian billionaire and has been involved in numerous controversies. On the track. Schumacher has routinely outperformed his teammate despite having the same car.
However, recent races have seen the gap between the two teammates shrink. Mazepin is adapting to his car, and is now reaching Schumacher’s level of pace and performance. This has been noticed by many prominent F1 personalities.
Mazepin himself has spoken of his improvement, and credited it to his car’s new chassis that was given to him at his request before the Belgian GP.
“I think our one-lap pace has massively improved ever since I drive from FP1 in Belgium,” Mazepin said.
“I think we all know what was the change in FP1 in Belgium. So it’s good to know that I can trust my feelings. The good thing is that the pace is here now, and we have a long season ahead of us.
“So I’m sure that it’s only going to get better, because the confidence that I have lost in the beginning of the year, when the car wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do, now it’s coming to the truth.”
“Obviously, we have only so much downforce that we use in this team, and the more weight you have in the corner, the more sliding you have. So the less weight from the car, the more speed I can carry with being in the same position as my teammate. I’ve been fighting for an equal position to be in for quite long, and I’m very happy to be in it,” he concluded.
Mazepin training over the years
Mazepin’s journey to strapping himself to the seat of an F1 car came after various stops at various places. He began racing like most drivers with karting. His final year of karting saw him finish second to Lando Norris in the Karting World Championship. He showed great promise during his karting years.
The Russian driver made his car racing debut at the end of 2014, and quickly rose to Formula 3. There, he learned that the road to F1 was far from easy. He had to suffer in F3, with poor results and controversies accompanying him for large portions of his time there. Nevertheless, his last year saw him finish tenth, one place behind his teammate.
He then moved to GP3, where he raced alongside Jake Hughes, Callum Ilott and the late Anthoine Hubert, who went on to win the GP3 series. Mazepin won four races that year, and finished P2 in the drivers’ title standings, 16 points behind Hubert. However, his great performances helped his team romp to the title in the team championship.
Mazepin was then promoted to Formula 2, where he partnered Nyck de Vries at the ART Grand Prix. However, he had a mixed season in F2, and it is mostly remembered for his accident with Nobuharu Matsushita. During the sprint race at the Sochi Autodrom, he collided with Matsuhita. A string of poor performances saw him finish a meek 18th, with 11 points to his name. This was made worse by the fact that his teammate ended up being champion.
In 2020, one year before his F1 debut, Mazepin secured his first podium in F2 at the Hungaroring. He went on to win in Britain and Mugello.
In 2016, he was also named test driver of Sahara Force India, and debuted in an F1 test at Silverstone. He retained his role for the next two seasons, and completed 151 laps at the Hungaroring from 2017 to 2018. Safe to say, then, that the time he had to prepare for F1 were marked with sweet highs, and some bitter lows that were valuable lessons.
How many crashes has Mazepin had?
Mazepin has been ridiculed by fans for his many crashes and spins, with many calling him ‘Maze-spin’. He had a nightmarish debut, when he crashed on the opening lap of the race, losing control at Turn 3.
He also crashed during practice at the Emilia Romagna GP and failed to finish at the British GP. Moreover, he has shunted into his teammate and other drivers many times.
In fact, Mazepin has managed to anger many drivers and teams during the course of his rookie season. He incurred the wrath of Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc, Antonio Giovinazzi, Nicholas Latifi, Carlos Sainz, Kimi Raikkonen, Lance Stroll, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen for doing something or the other across the races held so far. That is half the grid right there, comically and tragically.
Whether it is ignoring blue flags or blocking drivers when they are on their flying laps, Mazepin has created controversy wherever he has driven.
These incidents, coupled with his numerous off-track controversies gave rise to the popular hashtag #WeSayNoToMazepin. It became a trending hashtag on Twitter, and was made a flair on the official Formula 1 subreddit on Reddit.
Mazepin seems to have improved after the summer break, and he has been able to show better performances. One can only hope he keeps his head and doesn’t resort to the form he showed in the first half of the season ever again.
He will race for Haas next season, and time will tell if he can show significant progress.