Nikita Mazepin to make racing return in 2023 with shock move

Nikita Mazepin competed in the Russian Silk Way Rally in November and won his category.

Former Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin is set to make his international racing return in February, with the Russian driver set to compete in the 2023 Asian Le Mans Series.

According to Endurance-Info, the former Haas driver will race for Racing 99, a new entrant for next year’s championship.

As it stands, he is set to compete in the opening two rounds, the first which is in Dubai, and the second which will be held in Abu Dhabi.

Despite the reports, though, the 23-year-old hasn’t confirmed himself yet if he’s going to be racing in the series, which is sanctioned by Le Mans governing body Automobile Club de l’Ouest.

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“I plan to compete in a new discipline outside of Russia,” Mazepin told the Russian source Championat.

“I hope that it will be possible to talk more specifically about it in January.”

It had previously been speculated that he’d compete in the 2023 Dakar Rally, having won his category at the Russian Silk Way Rally in November.

He’s since revealed, though, that he won’t be taking part in the 2023 edition of the famous race, due to there being a “lot of problems”.

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“Too difficult,” he admitted.

“There are a lot of problems there and it simply makes no sense to list them all.”

2022 was largely a quiet year for Mazepin, who was dropped from his seat at Haas prior to the opening round in Bahrain following the ignition of the ongoing conflict in Eastern Europe.

The majority of Russian drivers struggled to find a championship to race in this year, with the FIA having brought in rules, especially for those from the nation.

Despite the difficulties in place, Mazepin still targets a return to the pinnacle of motorsport “in the future”, in a bid to “put everything” right, regarding his doubters.

“I had a plan this year to perform better than Mick (Schumacher),” said Mazepin.

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“But I really do not like these conversations, when you have to talk about hypotheticals.

“But if you look at the final day of testing in Barcelona, my last day in Formula 1, I was faster than him. Would it have worked out over the whole season?

“I hope to put everything in its right place in the future,” he added.