Mazepin wants to ‘make the world better’ after groping scandal

Nikita Mazepin was involved in controversy ahead of his debut season in 2021 with Haas.

Nikita Mazepin has opened up on his tough start to life in Formula 1, as well as the lessons learned off the track that made him appreciate other aspects of life beyond racing.

Mazepin was signed by Haas as a rookie ahead of the 2021 season having claimed two race wins in Formula 2 in 2020, but he was involved in controversy before the year was out.

A disturbing video emerged of him groping a woman in a car in the UAE, and it was shortly thereafter deleted.

He later issued an apology on social media before curiously deleting it, leading many to question the validity of his remorse for what was a repulsive act from the Russian.

He was already public enemy number one before the season got going, and matters were not helped by his persistent spinning and crashing in the opening few rounds of 2021.

Suffice to say he did not receive an awful lot of sympathy from F1 fans following his dire start to the campaign, but he slowly began to improve, and some members of the F1 community began to grow fond of the 22-year-old.

He saw the humour in team principal Guenther Steiner’s spinning top gift ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix, and the events of his early career galvanised him to try and make a difference in the world.

So he teamed up with the Podarok Angelou foundation – a charity that helps children suffering from cerebral palsy – and invited a young race fan, Makar, into the Haas garage at his home Russian Grand Prix.

He then promised to double the amount of money the charity raised in the month of September last year.

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Mazepin concedes that the controversy at the end of 2020 helped him see that there is more to life than racing, and that he needs to conduct himself as a human being, not just as a racing driver.

“It certainly, in a very harsh way, enabled me and pushed me to look into areas to consider areas I perhaps would have not focused on previously,” he said in conversation with GPFans.

“For me, racing was always about working in the team, working with people and making fast laps and ultimately getting the best set-ups.

“I never looked outside of the box and the thing I did with Makar in Sochi, I’ve joined the board of that charity foundation. I probably would have not looked into that because my massive priority was to get to Formula 1 and then stay here.

“I was always very worried and scared to lose the energy and think for things that can be done later. That actually the best time to act is now, as we saw last year with a lot of matters that are nothing about racing, that are actually about making the world better and everything happens for a reason.”

The Haas driver was delighted to see Makar’s smile during the time he spent with the team, and hopes that his own experience can also be a valuable lesson to others.

“It still downs me that I had to learn it that way, but I probably would have not met Makar if it didn’t happen and seeing his little smile on his face definitely says that if it had to happen like that in my life, then let’s make the most out of it and make the world better and make sure people don’t learn it the way I did,” he explained.

Mazepin managed a best finish of P14 at last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix as the Banbury-based team failed to score a single point between him and fellow rookie team-mate Mick Schumacher.

Both have been retained for 2022, and will take part in pre-season testing in Barcelona this week.