Senior personnel within the Haas F1 Team are becoming increasingly worried about the impact of the negative media attention that Nikita Mazepin is drawing to the American racing outfit and the broader Haas brand, according to reports.
“Haas F1 team, particularly those at the top are becoming increasingly worried about the reputation of the Haas brand and relationship between several sponsors due to negative media from Mazepin video,” Marco Rossi, a freelance F1 journalist working for Marca, ESPN and the Telegraph, reported on Sunday.
He added that the Haas F1 Team is now “seriously” considering alternative drivers who could replace Mazepin.
Formula1News.co.uk has approached Haas for comment on these reports.
This comes as, earlier this month, Mazepin sparked controversy by posting a video of him groping an Instagram model onto social media.
A recent Formula1News.co.uk survey found that 88 percent of F1 fans believe Haas should fire Mazepin over the incident.
Who Could Replace Nikita Mazepin At Haas?
There are two main candidates who already have ties to the Haas F1 Team in some form: Pietro Fittipaldi and Callum Ilott.
Fittipaldi, a Haas reserve driver, filled in for Romain Grosjean in the final two grand prix of the season after the Frenchman sustained burns to his hands in a horror, fiery crash in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Ilott, a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, was previously tipped to join Haas but he announced he wouldn’t be in F1 next season just days before the American racing outfit confirmed that Nikita Mazepin would be driving for them in 2021.
Ferrari recently announced that Ilott will serve as the team’s test driver next season, but, given the Scuderia’s ties to Haas, he could still replace Mazepin should they decide to drop the Russian racing driver.
Another potential, albeit less likely candidate, is Nico Hulkenberg.
The German impressed during the three races he competed in over the course of the 2020 season when he filled for Perez in both races at Silverstone and for Lance Stroll at the Eifel GP.
Hulkenberg is set to spend another season on the side-lines after Red Bull picked Sergio Perez over him to be Alex Albon’s replacement.