Nikita Mazepin revealed during the Russian Grand Prix weekend that his father could buy a Formula 1 team and, if he does so, he believes Dmitry has the Midas touch to make a success of the venture.
Mazepin senior, worth $1.4-billion according to Forbes, has been shopping around for an F1 team for some years. When Vijay Mallya’s Force India went south he bid for the team only to lose out to Lawrence Stroll’s consortium which, resulted in the Canadian billionaire buying the team and transforming it into Racing Point.
At the time Mazepin was also in the running but lost out to Stroll, upon which the Russian took the matter to court claiming a “flawed sale process” which came to nought as, since then, Racing Point has morphed into Aston Martin and the rest is history.
However, Dmitry’s name tends to come up when F1 teams are for sale.
In an interview with Bild am Sonntag, Mazepin spoke of the long-running rumour: “That would be an interesting option for him. Everything he starts he turns into gold. But I am very loyal to Haas. So if he were to buy one it would be exciting to see how they duel and hopefully beat him.”
As for driving for his father’s team, Mazepin said: “I wouldn’t rule it out. I’m currently part of a team that is tenth out of ten places in the Constructors’ Championship and I remain loyal to them, I want success with Haas.”
Should Mazepin senior indeed buy a team, Haas is his best bet. As owner Gene Haas appears vaguely interested in the venture, despite PR soundbites to the contrary, leaving F1 team issues with Guenther Steiner to resolve and ensure the project survives from year to year, which it barely does.
If the sale does happen, expect Nikita to be a driver as he is funded by Uralkali petro-chem giant, in which his father is the majority shareholder. Without that backing, the 22-year-old would not be in F1 and without his father’s company money.
But Nikita sees it differently: “I have my place because I’m a racing driver and the team sees me as an asset. The reason for the sponsorship is that the company sees F1 as an opportunity for new business. I’m the only Russian driver and of course, a Russian company will always want to invest in a team that has a fellow countryman.”
While many may lament his presence on the F1 grid, at the expense of talented drivers who do not have funding to be in the top flight, Mazepin has only had to prove himself against fellow rookie Mick Schumacher, and at that it is fair to say he has fallen short, blaming a heavier car for his woes and mishaps, of which there have been many.
However, there have been flashes of excellence – with a lighter car since the Belgian Grand Prix – a case in point being made by our race stats guru Kevin Melro who calculated, after Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix, at Sochi: “Mazepin handled the start very well. He passed Gasly and held him for two laps. Held 13th for two laps, 14th the next 16th before tumbling back into a 31 lap fight with his teammate.”
“I had a very good first opening lap and then did my best to hold the faster cars behind using the battery cleverly, which I think I did well.” @nikita_mazepin looks back on his first home Grand Prix.#HaasF1 #RussianGP pic.twitter.com/dPD1gjDs8e
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) September 26, 2021
Nevertheless, paddock consensus is that the Russian can be too aggressive and hotheaded in the cockpit, but he, of course, denies the suggestion: “I have a good feeling for the limit of a car. Some drivers are too easy to overtake because do not go beyond the limits. I use every opportunity to achieve the best possible result. Without breaking the rules, of course.
“That’s how I’ve been driving since the karting days. It has never been easy to overtake me, even when I was in the slower car. We live in a world where we fight for milliseconds, where you have to exhaust every possibility. I’m only here to work and to drive as fast as possible and always want to be first,” said like a true race driver.
With a woefully uncompetitive Haas package at their disposal, the two rookies have been done no favours. They have only one another as a yardstick, and invariably get tangled in their own bitter contest not to finish last in qualifying and the race, with collisions and some hairy on-track moments leading to bad blood between the two camps.
But Mazepin said his relationship with his Schumacher was as he “expected” and added: “We are teammates who both want to be the leaders in the team. He won’t accept that he’s number two and neither will I. I want to beat him on the track just like any other driver.
“This is how we push each other to perform better. We respect each other and for me, there are two Micks: off-track, I like him and the way he is. We’re the same age, we’re ambitious and talented. If he should ever need help, I would always try to support him.”
Both drivers will remain with Haas for 2022 when a new set of regulations will kick in with the prime objective to level the lopsided F1 playing field where Haas are at the very bottom of the inclined pitch.
“Mick deserves 110 percent his place in Formula 1,” insisted Mazepin. “As far as I know, there was no other option for him. The same is true for me.
“We’re both quick. I want to have battles with him and motivate each other. I know I have to train to keep up with him because he does it every day. We can’t relax, otherwise, we will be left behind.”
Mazepin has said before that Mick’s father, Michael Schumacher is one of his heroes and even wears the bright red on his helmet in tribute to the German F1 legend.
“Mick comes from a very talented family. The things that his father Michael was so good at can also be seen in Mick. It’s an honour to drive with him, I watch carefully at what he does well and try to do it even better.”
Meanwhile, Mazepin is still a student, dove-tailing university with his busy F1 schedule.
“Despite the motorsport, my father made me continue with my studies,” explained Nikita. “I am currently the only driver who is still studying on the side. I finished my bachelor’s degree during the week.
“Now I’m going to start my masters. My life will only really start after Formula 1. I’m confident that one day you will see me head a great company.”
Words of a self-assured young man, which Nikita is, oozing confidence and ambition with some serious boxes to tick on his life’s blueprint he has set:
Watch this space!