Russian host Nikita Mazepin has said she made a big mistake by inappropriately touching a woman. Mazepin will make his Formula One debut for Haas this season and has been the subject of widespread criticism since a video of his actions was posted on social media in December.
Haas had just confirmed that Mazepin would be joining them to drive alongside Mick Schumacher when the video surfaced. The team quickly condemned the behavior as abhorrent and the FIA and F1’s new CEO Stefano Domenicali have described it as unacceptable, although Mazepin has not faced any official sanctions.
The 22-year-old faced more questions about the incident at Haas’s new car launch on Thursday. “I have made a big mistake,” he said. “The way I reflect on my actions is pretty clear. I’m not happy that it happened. I am not proud of that. I did not behave as I am supposed to behave as a Formula One driver and I have taken responsibility for it ”.
His words echoed a similar apology issued on social media last year and he was pressured to consider whether he understood his behavior to be unacceptable as a human being, rather than simply as an F1 driver.
“I have taken responsibility both on and off the circuit,” he said. “We as human beings have to show a certain behavior towards others to live in a calm and caring world, so I am sure that I will be one of those humans from now on.”
Mazepin’s father, Dmitry, is a Russian billionaire who financed his son and is a co-owner of the Russian fertilizer company Uralkali, which is one of Haas’s main backers. Haas’s new car, the VF-21, was featured sporting the Russian national colors on its livery, although Mazepin cannot race under the Russian flag due to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s ban.
The team has felt a backlash since the incident, with the hashtag #SayNoToMazepin circulating on social media. Haas emphasized that the matter has been dealt with internally and Mazepin said he had learned from him in terms of his treatment of women.
“Being a Formula One driver means that suddenly you become a kind of example for many young children who are looking to reach the same championship,” he said. “With that, you have to bring a certain form of behavior towards yourself. I have not done it. Unfortunately, it was too late to realize that. “
Schumacher, son of seven-time world champion Michael, will also make his debut this season. His father is still recovering from the skiing accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury in 2013 and his son is already under intense scrutiny, though he says his last name only empowers him.
“I never felt like it was pressure and I’m pretty sure I never will because I’m very happy to carry that name and bring it back to F1 and I’m proud of it,” he said. “It’s motivation and it gives me a push every day to work as hard as I can.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism