News has emerged that Nikita Mazepin – son of Russian billionaire Dmitry Mazepin – will have a bespoke training programme in a 207 Mercedes F1 car next year with outside Force India driver and Silver Arrows reserve Esteban Ocon.
According to Motorsport Network, Mazepin senior has gone one further than what billionaire Lawrence Stroll did for his son Lance at the same point in his career before F1. Before he stepped up Stroll enjoyed an intense exclusive test programme with Williams at various race circuits on the Formula 1 schedule.
The project to get young Lance fully prepped for the top flight is said to have cost in the region of $20 to $25-million depending on who you believe.
Now that it the 2017 and older cars become eligible for testing, it makes sense – if you can afford it – to opt for the best of the time, namely the Mercedes W08 which Lewis Hamilton used to win the championship that year.
Exact dates and venues for the test are not mentioned in the report, indeed if it will even be the W08 that is used is questionable. Don’t they need an army of boffins just to fire-up these turbo-hybrids? Perhaps money is not an issue.
Mazepin was Force India development driver for the past two years and has had track time on several occasions. He was GP3 Series runner-up last year.
For this season the 19-year-old moves up to Formula 2 with Art Grand Prix and will run the test programme in tandem.
According to the report Ocon, who lost out on the 2019 Silly Season musical chairs will be Mazepin’s coach, the pair know one another from their time together with Force India. The Frenchman will sit out this year as Mercedes reserve and test driver.
Mazepin senior made a bid for the Force India team but was beaten to the deal by the Stroll cartel, the Russian businessman took exception and through his potash-producing company, Uralkali, announced legal action against the administrators which chose against their bid.
The hard reality is that no matter what happens Mazepin will be a Formula 1 driver no matter what because his father will buy him a seat with a team. With the Stroll endeavours as a template, if that fails and his son bombs, then guaranteed Papa buys a team for the lad.
Mercedes maybe? Just to mess with Lawrence’s head! A billionaire’s cockfight is on the cards… and warrants the obvious questions: Will future Formula 1 become a playground for the filthy rich where money talks and talent walks? Is it that already?