Nikita Mazepin: One of the Worst F1 Rookie Seasons?
Written by Alejandra Guajardo Lozano, Edited by Yu Xin Wang
Nikita Mazepin is a Russian racing driver who previously raced in Formula One. Mazepin was part of the 2021 Haas driver lineup alongside Mick Schumacher, and his short career was defined as “the epitome of chaos and disaster” by many. With 5 DNFs, 1 DNS, 0 points, and 6 penalty points, Mazepin gave the media a lot to talk about, and they were not exactly good things.
Mazepin came into the sport with a pay driver reputation because his father’s business, Uralkali, was the main sponsor of Haas F1 Team. Pre-season testings, where he repeatedly spun on track, were not a good start for him. Neither was the Bahrain Grand Prix, where he lasted only one turn before ending up against the barrier. His first race weekend was a disaster, ending with the media bashing him and even giving him the nickname “Nikita Mazespin”.
Imola didn’t start quite well for the Russian either. He spun into the wall in FP1 and qualified P19 on the starting grid. He managed to get to P16 even after having contact with Williams driver Nicholas Latifi, but this didn’t last long. He then found himself in P19 and finished the race 1 minute behind his teammate Schumacher.
In Portugal, he was also running in last place. He was later involved in an incident on lap 46 with Red Bull driver, Sergio Pérez, where he blocked Pérez even though he was a lapped car. This gave him his first penalty point of the season.
Mazepin gained his second penalty point after blocking McLaren driver Lando Norris, when he was doing a hot lap in Spain. He finished the Spanish Grand Prix 50 seconds behind his teammate once again.
Monaco, however, wasn’t too bad for him, as he out-qualified his teammate and managed to finish ahead of him after the German had a fuel issue.
In Azerbaijan, he ended up in the wall in FP1. In FP2, he repeated the incident with Norris in Spain, but this time with Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz. FP3 saw him in the wall once again, and he ended P14 on Sunday after almost colliding into his teammate.
France P20, Austria P19, P17, DNF, DNF, P18 in his home Grand Prix. He was consistent, but his consistency wasn’t the best in this case. In Russia, he was 8 seconds off-pace, which was truly concerning. On that Saturday, he almost took out AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda, and he received the black and white flag due to his “unsportsmanlike conduct”. He finished P18.
After more disappointing results, season finale Abu Dhabi finally came, but he wasn’t able to start the race as he tested positive for COVID-19.
His F1 season was outstanding in the wrong way, but he was truly unlucky and was just a rookie. He almost had a good race in Brazil, but didn’t quite get there. Just before the 2022 season, Haas decided to terminate his contract after the war between Ukraine and Russia, thus putting an end to his F1 career.
What do you think? Was he just an inexperienced new driver? Does he deserve another chance? Make sure to leave your opinions in the comments.