Nikita Mazepin is guaranteed a spot in Formula 1 this season. however, his public image has suffered a great dent following an alleged groping incident.
Guenther Steiner has copped a fair amount of flak from various quarters for not taking a strong stand against Mazepin, especially after the emergence of video footage.
Haas owner Gene Haas has revealed that Steiner was so furious with Mazepin following the incident that he called him an idiot on his face.
“Our response to it was I think Guenther told him that he was an idiot and you can’t do things like that, and it was totally unacceptable,” Haas told RACER.com.
However, Gene believes that social media was a touch too harsh on Mazepin and claimed that the Russian had apologised for his actions and was keen to make amends.
“The social media response from all kind of groups was robust, wanting us to execute him for what he did, but that didn’t feel like the right course either,” he said.
Steiner has often pointed to the fact that Mazepin’s entry in the team is more of a financial necessity. Mazepin’s family owns Uralkali which is sponsoring Haas.
The American team has never shied away from the fact that it is strained financially. It has even claimed that it could quit the sport due to its poor performances and drying funds.
The team has done well to secure the signing of Mick Schumacher this year. The German is the reigning Formula 2 champion and comes from rich, if not the richest, racing heritage.
An all-rookie lineup will contest for Haas this season and the team will hope that the two juniors give them some reason to smile.