Reading Time: 7 minutes

Featured image by Artes Max,

Trigger warning. The following article dives into detail regarding the actions of Nikita Dmitryevich Mazepin, and discusses sensitive topics such as Sexual Assault. Please do not read this article if the topic makes you uncomfortable. Your safety & well being should take precedence against everything.

For starters, let me make the entire purpose of this article clear. It’s about raising awareness of the extremely repulsive actions that this one individual, better known as Nikita Mazepin has committed. If you’re still sitting on the fence (which you really shouldn’t be), clueless, or still going #WeSayYestoMazepin (which you definitely shouldn’t be going!), this article is for you. If by the end of this, you’re still unconvinced, then I’m just really sorry for you.

Throughout this article, we will not be referring to Mazepin as “him”, “his”, or “man”. Mazepin will be referred to using gender-neutral terms, such as the following: “individual”, “driver”. Mazepin is not a “gentleman”. The usage of terms such as “him” are an insult to the rest of the many men around the world, who actually respect women.

Before I begin diving into what is going on regarding Nikita Mazepin, and why we cannot allow him to stay in F1, I would like to stress the following: #WeSayNoToMazepin, #NikitaMazepinOut, #NoMazepin, #MazepinOut. These are not examples of cancer culture at work. These are campaigns calling for action. Action against the very individual who committed an unspeakable act of outrage.

Who is Nikita Mazepin

Nikita Dmitryevich Mazepin, born on the 2 March 1999, is a Russian racing driver, and the son of Dmitry Mazepin. Dmitry Mazepin is the founder & Chief Executive Officer of Uralchem, a Russian manufacturer of a wide range of chemical products. Throughout the Russian’s racing career, Nikita Mazepin has been embroiled in several controversies, pertaining to a mix of activities both on & off the track. However, it was in early December 2020, things really turned up a notch.

On the day where it was announced that the Russian would be driving for Haas, the following happened:

A female Formula 1 fan uploaded screenshots, detailing an interaction with Mazepin online. The messages were dated 1 November 2020. In the screenshots, Mazepin was shown stating the following: “You are pretty hot”, “If you want to come to races at any point, text me (censored phone number)”, “Invitation from me (wink emoji) “. The fan declined, to which the Mazepin replied: “Just have no time for fan girls playing hard to get :)”

At this point, many pitchforks were rightfully raised regarding this highly disturbing behaviour. But fine. If you want to believe that Nikita’s account was compromised and the number was an imposter, go ahead. Mazepin has never addressed this incident directly to date either. However, when it comes to the next part, it becomes entirely impossible to cook up any excuses to defend Mazepin.

Sexual Assault Video posted on Instagram

On the 10th of December 2020, Mazepin uploaded a highly inappropriate video, which directly led to the campaigns. In the video, the Russian sat in the passenger seat of a car, turned around, and reached into the back of the vehicle and inappropriately groping a woman’s chest. The victim can then be seen attempting to move away from the Russian, covering the camera, before raising a middle finger towards it. The video caused a huge uproar, and became condemned by many online, as a clear cut example of sexual assault.

The next day, the Russian issued an apology. Except that if anything, the “apology” seemed more like a PR Statement.

“I would like to apologise for my recent actions both in terms of my own inappropriate behaviour and the fact that it was posted onto social media.

“I am sorry for the offence I have rightly caused and to the embarrassment I have brought to Haas F1 Team.

“I have to hold myself to a higher standard as a Formula 1 driver and I acknowledge I have let myself and many people down. I promise I will learn from this.”

Nikita Mazepin’s apology

To begin with, fact of the matter is that no apology could make up for what he had done. However, Mazepin’s apology never directly addressed the victim, or the reasons for his actions. Mazepin’s statement only apologised for the behaviour in the context of being Formula 1 driver, and causing embarrassment to Haas. What was perhaps the most appalling thing, was that Mazepin took down his apology over a week later…

The victim later released a statement on her Instagram page, which claimed that her and Mazepin were “friends” and that the incident was a “joke”. But was this claim really true? Spoiler alert: It probably wasn’t. Internet sleuths found that both parties did not actually follow each other until minutes after her statement dropped. So. You may ask yourself at this point. Is the story over yet? Well, it wasn’t.

Fast forward to a week later, on the 18th of December 2020, Mazepin’s victim uploaded several stories, which led to some questions regarding her initial statement…

While asking for “advice to my younger self”, she stated: “don’t drink with assholes”, “don’t let anyone touch you or disrespect you again”, before posting another story, stating: “Protect drunk girls”. 

Other Inappropriate Online Activity

Uploading a video depicting sexual assault was appalling. However, this was not Mazepin’s first time when it came to inappropriate online activity. On previous occasions, Mazepin had done the following:

  1. In 2018, following a Uralkali mine collapse in Solikamsk saw a day of mourning declared for the region. However, instead of mourning, Mazepin (rather disrespectfully) held a party in a Moscow nightclub with several Russian influencers, uploading videos on Instagram.
  2. Laughing in a reply to a culturally inappropriate comment mocking Japanese F2 driver Yuki Tsunoda
  3. Supporting Racist Fans; Mazepin replied: “this is a real world” to a comment where a user stated they had received a racist message after criticising Mazepin in a respectful manner.
  4. Posting a COVID-19 Birthday “Joke”
  5. Creepy comment on George Russell’s Instagram Live: “I have a secret about you mate that some people might call a coming out”, which was not only offensive, but also disrespectful.

Past history of Assault

Many years before the video was uploaded, Mazepin had already been embroiled in a case of assault against a fellow driver. While racing in Formula 3 in 2016, following Free Practice at the Hungaroring, Mazepin exited the car in the paddock, approached Callum Ilott, and after a brief exchange of words, hit Ilott. Ilott had impeded a lap for Mazepin on fresh tyres.

Eyewitnesses spotted Ilott with cuts to his cheek and neck, and swelling to his jaw. Mazepin was subjected to a one-race ban for ‘unsporting behaviour in the paddock after the finish of free practice two’.

Over-aggressive & reckless Driving

Nikita Mazepin may have excelled in Formula 2 this season, with the rookie HiTech team. However, it should be noted that on-track success did not at all equate to driving cleanly on track. When it came to Mazepin, you couldn’t say “drive cleanly”. He was far from the cleanest driver. By the end of the Sakhir Grand Prix Feature race, Mazepin was just 1 penalty point away from a race ban…

In the Spa Feature Race, Mazepin was demoted from the race win for repeated aggressive defending against Yuki Tsunoda. How did Mazepin react in Parc Ferme? Mazepin proceeded to knock down the second place bollard hard, as Tsunoda exited his car and walked towards Carlin team members. The bollard flew and narrowly avoided hitting Tsunoda. Mazepin received a grid penalty for the next race.

When it came to the Sakhir Sprint Race, the same thing occurred again on track. After aggressively defending against Felipe Drugovich & Yuki Tsunoda, Mazepin received 2 5 second penalties.

Why I’m going #FIADoSomething

Earlier this week, there had been rumours that Haas higher management were concerned about the Haas brand image becoming damaged by Mazepin. While truthfully speaking, I did not believe Haas would axe Mazepin, I would have expected them to somehow punish Mazepin in a public manner.

However, that did not happen. Haas merely put out a statement yesterday: “As per the team’s previous statement regarding the actions of Nikita Mazepin (9 December) – this matter has now been dealt with internally and no further comment shall be made.”

Since Haas appeared unwilling to axe, or publicly punish it’s driver, suggesting that whatever punishment meted out was perhaps insignificant, this calls for a higher authority to intervene. And who should this authority be? None other than the FIA of course.

2020 has already seen some high profile names dropped following various controversies, with Kyle Larson suspended by NASCAR for racism, & Daniel Abt in Formula E for cheating in a virtual race. Larson was suspended by NASCAR internally for racist language. Abt was fired by Audi for cheating, Given the severity of Mazepin’s offenses, which is certainly greater than that of Larson, it is only correct that Mazepin receives a harsher penalty. NASCAR suspended Larson for 5 months, reinstating him only after he had completed “sensitivity training”.

Fact of the matter is that Mazepin has money. Mazepin can race anywhere he pleases. Especially in the current COVID-19 world, if Mazepin can pull out a large enough chequebook, with his driving ability, it would not be a shocker to see teams signing him up anyway after this incident. A ban from Formula One will be of little to no use against him, as he would simply hop to another racing series, say Formula E, or the World Endurance Championship. So why not deprive him of the ability to race by banning him from racing, alongside the paddock, for say a season or 2? The FIA is the only organisation capable of doing so. There are also reasonable grounds for doing so, stated out in the International Sporting Code, Appendix B:

– and not to cause, by words, actions or writings, damage to the standing and/or reputation of, or loss to, the FIA, its bodies, its members or its management, and more generally on the interests of motor sport and on the values defended by the FIA

APPENDIX B TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPORTING CODE

It can be argued that Mazepin’s actions were against the interests of Motorsport, and the FIA. Mazepin’s actions have left a stain on Motorsport, & went against the many inclusivity initiatives put forth by the FIA this year. These included the FIA Ethics and Compliance Hotline, billed as a platform for reporting Ethics & Compliance issues, alongside the #PurposeDriven campaign.

The FIA Ethics & Compliance hotline has been billed as a one-stop platform to report any violations as against the International Sporting Code. This includes the following: “Alleged or real violations of the ethical principles contained in the FIA regulations (for example discrimination, harassment, bribery, corruption, conflict of interests, fraud, money laundering)”.

On the other hand, the #PurposeDriven campaign aims to do a host of things, including: “Proactively encourage, attract and employ a wider and more diverse range of participants in motorsport and it’s broader ecosystems.;”

If there is no consequence or penalty levied on Mazepin by the FIA, it is regrettable that the #PurposeDriven campaign will have failed. By virtue of failing to maintain a safe environment for all individuals, which is a prerequisite to attracting a more diverse range of participants into the world of Motorsport.

There need to be actual consequences here, to send the message that the FIA is committed to the #PurposeDriven campaign. Otherwise, this will be a huge step backwards for both the campaign, alongside women in motorsport. Especially given that yesterday’s Haas announcement comes merely a day after the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission celebrated it’s 10th anniversary.

Conclusion

All in all, here are the reasons for the many campaigns against Nikita Mazepin, and why I feel the FIA needs to take action. If we do not take action today, we will be setting a wrong precedent, & the wrong message: Sexual Assault & Harrasment is ok in the Motorsport World.

Except that the reality should be this: Sexual Assault & Harassment is fully unacceptable in any place. If you weren’t a believer in the campaigns against Mazepin before reading this article, I hope this article has changed your mind.

Individually, we are small voices against Mazepin. Collectively, we are a large movement seeking to ensure the continued safety for all persons in the Motorsport World.

Once again, #WeSayNoToMazepin. & #FIADoSomething.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.