Haas F1 team has condemned the behavior of incoming Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin over his actions in a video posted to Instagram.
The team announced Mazepin, a current Formula 2 driver, would be joining the main grid from 2021. However, his seat may now be in jeopardy.
A video uploaded to Mazepin’s Instagram page quickly whipped around social media before it was removed from his personal page.
It shows Mazepin sitting in the passenger seat of a car before the camera pans to the back seat, where he reaches back and grabs the woman sitting in the back of the car on the chest.
The woman in the clip moves Mazepin’s hand before raising a middle finger and swatting the camera away.
Haas issued a scathing statement Wednesday in which it said it would be taking internal action over the incoming driver’s antics.
“Haas F1 Team does not condone the behavior of Nikita Mazepin in the video recently posted on his social media,” the statement reads.
“Additionally, the very fact the video was posted on social media is also abhorrent to Haas F1 Team. The matter is being dealt with internally and no further comment shall be made at this time.”
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Mazepin, 21, was quick to follow the team statement with one of his own, in which he apologized for his actions.
“I would like to apologize for my recent actions both in terms of my own inappropriate behavior and the fact that it was posted onto social media,” Mazepin said.
“I am sorry for the offense I have rightly caused and to the embarrassment I have brought to Haas F1 Team.
“I have to hold myself to a higher standard as a Formula 1 driver and I acknowledge I have let myself and many people down. I promise I will learn from this.”
On Thursday, the FIA and F1 released a joint statement in support of Haas.
“We strongly support the Haas F1 Team in its response to the recent inappropriate actions of its driver, Nikita Mazepin,” the statement reads.
“Mazepin has issued a public apology for his poor conduct and 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 1.”
However, the woman in the video took to social media to defend Mazepin after the storm erupted, saying she uploaded the clip to Instagram as a “joke” and didn’t mean to get him in any trouble.
“Hi guys, I just want to let you know Nikita and I have been good friends for a long time and nothing from that video was serious at all!” she wrote.
“We trust each other so much and this was a silly way of joking between us.
“I posted this video on his story as an internal joke. I am truly sorry.
“I can give you my word he’s a really good person and he would never do anything to hurt me or humiliate me.”
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A week after being named as joining the Haas team for the 2021 season, Mazepin finished the 2020 F2 season in fifth place.
Mazepin will partner alongside Mick Schumacher in the new-look Haas outfit for next season, but his on-track antics in the final race of the season raised the eyebrows of team principal Guenther Steiner.
“I’ve seen the F2 race, he got the penalty,” Steiner told RaceFans.net.
“I think it’s part of learning and for sure we have got our work cut out, I guess, I think I’m right there. We need to learn from this and see that these mistakes are not done.”
The final race of the Formula 1 season will take place in Abu Dhabi.
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