NIKITA MAZEPIN says he made a “huge mistake” after filming himself groping a woman’s breast in the back of a car and it appearing online.
The controversial Russia driver has been disciplined by his new Haas team about the incident that happened in December.
Nikita Mazepin has opened up on the car groping controversy he engulfed himself in last yearCredit: PA:Press Association
Mazepin, 22, subsequently deleted the post and posted an apology – which he also deleted nine days later.
Understandably, there has been a huge backlash across social media with the hashtag #WeSayNoToMazepin frequently trending.
As he faced the press for the first time, he said on Thursday how he was “not proud of it”.
In somewhat of an understatement, he said: “How I reflect on my actions is pretty clear. I’m not happy that it happened.
“I’m not proud of it, I didn’t behave as I meant to behave in Formula One, and the transition phase of realising what I achieved has been very short and I didn’t adapt as quickly as I should have.
“But I have taken responsibility for it and I am ready to keep doing it because I’d like to be very strong in my position and certain.
“The learning curve is very steep when you have to get to your first race, so that process is a very big part of your thing, it has to be.
“In regards to the image it has created, I am not going to be able to put words in people’s mouths, but I am pretty sure that I will be delivering on track and I am confident that with the direction I am taking the results will be there.
Haas revealed their contender to the Formula One 2021 Championship on ThursdayCredit: Haas F1
Mazepin is preparing for his debut in the seriesCredit: Getty Images – Getty
“I am going to try to have the racing do the talking. I have made a huge mistake and taken responsibility for it and I have learned from it. I am looking forward to a clean year ahead.”
He also refused to say whether he had apologised to the girl involved, who had claimed responsibility for uploading the video.
He added: “I think a privacy matter is very important in this case. I don’t think it would be correct for me to bring other people into this very wide media discussion, and therefore I’m not going to do that.”
Mazepin has a history of bad behaviour at the track too.
In 2016, he punched British racing driver Callum Ilott after he blocked the Russian during a practice session.
Mazepin was slapped with a pathetic one-race ban while last season he notched up 11 penalty points on his racing licence – just one shy of receiving a suspension.
Graduating to Formula One means that all of a sudden you become an example to a lot of young kids.
But he says he is confident he can shed his bad-boy reputation and stay out of trouble now he has reached F1.
He added: “Graduating to Formula One means that all of a sudden you become an example to a lot of young kids who are aiming to get to the same championship.
“With that, you have to bring a certain way of behaviour towards yourself. I haven’t done it instantly because I was too late to realise that unfortunately.
“In regards to what I’ve learned, it’s quite clear that first of all the behavior you’re meant to bring to yourself, and secondly how you’re meant to act on social media and off social media.”
After Haas stopped the questioning about his controversial behaviour, he was asked whether his card was now marked by the race stewards too.
He said: “It’s not something that I fear because I am confident it’s not going to happen.
“I take a lot of time to go through the regulations, study them hard, understand them, understand where that fine line is.
“Sometimes you overstep that line and it’s not for me to decide, it’s the stewards’ decision. I respect their decisions but I am confident to say you won’t be seeing that in F1.”