Nikita Mazepin has secret racing plan as he plots Formula 1 return

Nikita Mazepin at a conference. Saint Petersburg, June 2022. Credit: Alamy
Nikita Mazepin at a conference. Saint Petersburg, June 2022. Credit: Alamy

Former Haas driver Nikita Mazepin said he will be racing in a category outside of Russia in 2023 as he looks for a way back to Formula 1.

Mazepin graduated from Formula 2 to F1 for the 2021 season, though with his father’s company entering a title sponsorship deal with Haas, Mazepin found it hard to convince most that he was in the series on merit.

The Haas VF-21 did not help his cause either, that car comfortably the slowest of the 2021 grid, while Mazepin also struggled to contend with fellow rookie team-mate Mick Schumacher for much of the campaign.

He was set to stay with Haas for 2022, but the team cut ties with the Mazepins in pre-season, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Mazepin’s racing commitments since then confined to the 2022 Silk Way Rally, which he won in the SSV class.

But rally driving is not something which he plans to commit to full-time, and indeed he claimed that he will be returning to competition outside of the nation in 2023, albeit in a capacity which he cannot yet reveal.

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And the 23-year-old certainly has not yet given up on the ambition to be a Formula 1 driver once again in the future.

“I did that out of pleasure and fortunately the pleasure led to victory,” Mazepin is quoted by Crash.net as having told Russian news agency TASS, in reference to his Silk Way Rally class win.

“But I don’t see myself as a professional rally driver. Silk Way is a wonderful competition but for a non-rally driver to really prepare, you’d have to put everything else aside.

“I will also compete for myself in a new discipline outside of our country, but so far there are no signatures. So I can’t tell you about it.

“There is the desire, of course, to continue to compete in motorsport. My goal is to return to Formula 1 so that is the direction I will work in.”

Haas have made a further change to their F1 2023 line-up, with the team deciding to drop Schumacher in favour of his compatriot Nico Hulkenberg, Haas believing that experience is key if they are to continue progressing after a far improved 2022 campaign.

Jumping from last in 2021 to P8 in the 2022 Constructors’ Championship, Haas scored 37 points having failed to score any in the previous season when Mazepin and Schumacher were driving for the team.

 

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