F1, FIA back Haas in criticism of Mazepin

F1, FIA back Haas in criticism of Mazepin

LONDON • Formula One and governing body FIA yesterday joined the Haas team in condemning newly signed Russian driver Nikita Mazepin for posting a video on social media of a young woman being groped in a car.

The Instagram Stories clip, which Mazepin uploaded, was swiftly deleted and the 21-year-old has apologised for what Haas called “abhorrent” behaviour.

The woman, identified as model Alma del Caribe, has defended his actions, saying on Instagram that she has been friends with Mazepin for a long time and “nothing from that video was serious at all”.

However, F1 and FIA said in a joint statement: “We strongly support the Haas F1 team in its response to the recent inappropriate actions of its driver.

“This matter will continue to be dealt with internally by the Haas F1 team. The ethical principles and diverse and inclusive culture of our sport are of the utmost importance to the FIA and Formula One.”

The incident occurred after two races in Bahrain and before Formula One’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit this weekend.

Mazepin was revealed last week, alongside Mick Schumacher, son of joint-record seven-time world champion Michael, as Haas’ new driver duo for next season.

Separately, Mercedes have fixed a radio problem that caused pit-stop confusion in Bahrain last weekend and wrecked their race, team boss Toto Wolff has said.

The Silver Arrows put Valtteri Bottas’ front tyres on race leader George Russell’s car when both drivers pitted during a safety car period at Sakhir.

The mistake meant that Russell, standing in for the Covid-stricken Lewis Hamilton, had to pit again. He ended up ninth after a late puncture dealt a further setback, but Wolff confirmed “we’ve put measures in place… to make sure it doesn’t happen again”.

According to the Daily Mail, Mercedes are ready to wait until tomorrow to see if Hamilton can be fit to take part in Abu Dhabi.

The Briton, who is still in self-isolating in Bahrain, must return a negative Covid-19 test before he can travel.

Under FIA rules, Hamilton can be absent from today’s two practice sessions, but must take part in either practice or qualifying tomorrow to be allowed to participate on Sunday.