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OPINION: Why Nikita Mazepin doesn’t deserve an F1 seat

With just 12 days until the first race of the 2021 season, Haas’ Nikita Mazepin will be going through the motions of being a Formula One driver for the first time.

However, given his record of unacceptable conduct, violence, and appearing to endorse hateful comments – it’s astonishing that a man with his history is allowed anywhere near the sport at all.

Mazepin’s social media post on December 9 showed him groping a woman in a car. The initial apology which was deleted and subsequent radio silence from F1, Haas, and Mazepin has been shameful.

This lack of remorse for his actions is no surprise, Mazepin has a chequered past including insensitive comments towards George Russell, backing his fans attacking Yuki Tsunoda supporters and the altercation with driver Callum Ilott after a free practice session in European Formula 3.

This paints the picture of a boy, not a man, as well as someone who cannot accept consequences and is not fit to sit at the top table of motorsport.

Sadly, money rules all in F1. The cash injection supplied by Nikita’s billionaire father Dmitry Mazepin means that his seat is as safe as anyone’s on the grid, despite his abhorrent actions.

F-Series content creators Keira and Charlotte believe that Mazepin’s presence in the paddock could discourage women from entering the sport and make those currently working in motorsport uncomfortable.

“It’s really damaging for the females in the Haas team,” said Keira Megan, the founder of YouTube collective F-Series. “He’s come into this team and there’s already a minority of women in F1. If the women in that team now feel unsafe – that puts such a downer on the promotion of women in motorsport.”

The female collective began uploading motorsport videos to YouTube in January 2021 and are hoping to pave the way for more women to enter the industry.

“The only people that seem to care about it right now are the fans,” said Charlotte.

“You see #WeSayNoToMazepin trending as soon as Haas post a picture of him. That shows that we are not letting it go and people shouldn’t!”

Keira added: “It’s so frustrating. Last week was Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day but we had the worst week ever. It was awful.”

The climate set by Sarah Everard’s murder has caused an outcry from women for male reform, harsher punishments for sexual assault and to make the streets safer.

Making the timing of the new F1 season poignant, with Mazepin allowed to race with a mere slap on the wrist from Haas and the FIA.

“We have the biggest movement in female racing now with the W Series being on the same weekend as F1,” said Keira. “There will be over 20 girls racing in the same paddock as him. I’d never want any of them to feel uncomfortable.

“It might make women leave and I really hope that doesn’t happen.”

As the new season arrives, Mazepin should be stripped of his F1 seat for his horrible actions – this is a pivotal moment in women’s history and should duly be marked with a suitable punishment.

However, the issue with pay drivers still haunts motorsport and if something were to happen to Mazepin it likely would have already. There’s still hope that public opinion will be noticed as people shouldn’t forget his actions.

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