Haas F1 rookie Nikita Mazepin will make his debut in the pinnacle of motorsport in just a few weeks’ time – and he will be the only driver on the Formula One grid in 2021 who has never won a Championship over the entirety of his racing career.
Mazepin sparked criticism last year for his aggressive defensive moves, most notably in Bahrain, when he was penalised by the stewards and was lambasted by Daniel Ricciardo for being reckless.
He picked up 11 penalty points over the course of the 2020 Formula Two Championship, leaving him just one point away from getting an automatic race ban.
In an interview with Autosport this week, Mazepin said he doesn’t “fear” getting a race ban in Formula One this upcoming season because he is confident that he won’t put himself in that position.
“It’s not something that I fear because I’m confident that’s not going to happen,” the Russian racing driver said.
“I take a lot of time to go through the regulations, study them and understand them, understand where that fine line is.”
Continuing, he quoted F1 legend Ayrton Senna and said racing drivers will “obviously sometimes overstep” the line.
“Like one of the great racing drivers said, if you don’t go for a gap that exists, you’re no longer a racing driver, and I think this is applicable to every driver in F1.
“To get there you do need to be willing to take every opportunity, because if you will not be doing it, somebody else will. You obviously sometimes overstep that line.
“It’s not up to me to decide. It’s the stewards’ decision. Like I said, everyone’s got a job in F1. And I’m not a steward. So I respect their correct decisions on some of those moves.
“But I’m confident to say that you won’t be seeing that in F1 in the coming years, because there’s a very different driving style needed when you are fighting for a Championship and potentially fighting further back down the grid,” he concluded.