The future of Nikita Mazepin in Formula 1 is in doubt following demands by the president of the Automobile Federation of Ukraine – Leonid Kostyuchenko – to ban all Russian and Belarusian drivers from competing outside of their own countries.
On Monday, UEFA and FIFA took the joint decision to suspend Russia from all club and national fixtures. The Russian Formula 1 driver may soon find his governing body has followed suit. Formula 1 has already cancelled the Russian Grand Prix, saying it is “impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances.”
Mazepin’s place on this year’s grid was already under question as Uralkali, the team’s primary sponsor – owned by Mazepin’s billionaire father – had already been frozen out of conducting business outside of Russia by political leaders.
Poor Start, Poor Results and No Popularity Amongst Fellow Drivers
On the track, teammate Mick Schumacher comprehensively outperformed his fellow rookie in 2021. Of the 20 races they both started (Mazepin skipped the final race through Covid-19) the German driver qualified best on every occasion. On average, the distance between the two drivers in qualifying was over 0.9 seconds.
Similarly, of the 14 races in which both drivers were classified as finishers – Schumacher fared best 11 times. But it was not the Russian’s regular beatings that caught the attention of race fans. Managing to spin out on the opening lap of his first Grand Prix – and several others during the first half of the 2021 season – the driver was cruelly nicknamed “Nikita Mazespin!”
He would later be condemned by numerous drivers for his antics whilst being lapped. The Haas pilot would regularly hold up faster rivals despite being shown blue flags. On numerous occasions, rivals described him as an “idiot”.
Mazepin was quoted at 3,000/1 to become 2022 World Champion before the opening test sessions of 2022. Similarly, Schumacher was quoted at 1/7 to outscore him during the forthcoming campaign.