Nikita Mazepin is a driver that sprung up a ton of debate before the start of the 2021 Formula 1 season. The Russian rookie received the "Lance Stroll" treatment from fans and media alike, who claimed that he received his seat in Formula 1 because of billionaire father Dmitry Mazepin. To say that the F2 graduate has had a controversial career so far would be a massive understatement.
During his days in the European Formula 3, Nikita Mazepin was accused of having a physical altercation with Ferrari academy driver Callum Ilott. The Russian was also surrounded in controversy last season. Racing for Hitech Grand Prix in Formula 2, Mazepin pushed 4 cars off the track whilst defending his position. Three of the cars he pushed were on the verge of hitting the pit wall.
Watch the shocking clip below:
Nikita Mazepin's disastrous Bahrain Grand Prix weekend
Coming into Formula 1 with a bad reputation, all eyes were pinned on Nikita Mazepin as he made his Formula 1 debut with Haas at the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix. The weekend started off poorly for the Russian who had a couple of spins during the practice sessions.
However, his biggest mistake came during Q1 of the qualifying session. Mazepin broke Formula 1's "gentleman's agreement" of not passing another driver before they start their flying laps. The Russian overtook several drivers, including four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, to start his flying lap before them. Mazepin subsequently spun the car at the very first corner of the circuit, which brought out yellow flags and ruined the laps of everybody behind him. Not only did this affect his reputation with the fans, but also hurt his relations with the other drivers on the grid.
However, this was not the end of Mazepin's self-brought struggles.
The shortest F1 debut in 19 years
Nikita Mazepin started the Bahrain Grand Prix in 19th place, behind his Haas teammate Mick Schumacher. While exiting Turn 2 on the first lap, the Russian applied got on the throttle early, causing the Haas to spin off the road and collide with the trackside safety barriers. In doing so, he had the shortest Formula 1 debut for a driver in 19 years.
Allan McNish previously held the unenviable record. He and Felipe Massa were caught in a massive pile-up in the 2002 Australian Grand Prix, infamous for being the race where Ralf Schumacher's BMW Williams was sent airborne.
After his incident at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Nikita Mazepin was understandably annoyed with himself and took the blame for his error. The Russian said that since his tires were cold and he got on a kerb, the little throttle he applied caused the car to spin off the track and damage his front end.
It was a disastrous weekend for not only Nikita Mazepin but also Haas, who safe to say are the slowest team on the grid. With the team deciding to focus their attention and resources on the new regulations of 2022, it is going to be a long and painful season for the Russian in the American team.