Nikita Mazepin on pay driver: Everyone needs help

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“Every single driver” needs some sort of help to make it into Formula 1 says Nikita Mazepin as he shrugged off pay driver criticism.

Mazepin has yet to make his Formula 1 debut with Haas but already the Russian driver is at the centre of controversy.

Last season he walked away from Formula 2, fifth in the championship, with 11 penalty points as he on-track actions criticised by Daniel Ricciardo.

Shortly after he was involved in a video incident, a clip posted on social media of him groping a woman in the back of a car.

And all of that comes wrapped up in a pay driver package.

Mazepin is the son of Russian billionaire Dmitry Mazepin, whose fertiliser company Uralkali is the new title sponsor of the Haas Formula 1 team.

Mazepin says his arrival on the grid is no different to anyone elses, all the drivers need finalise support to make it into Formula 1.

“This an interesting one,” he told Motorsportweek.com.

“Formula 1 is not race walking. It really does require a package of things to arrive to Formula 1.

“Every single driver has acquired a certain package in one way or another.

“You have to have a team around you to get into a [Formula 1] team.

“I am not the only driver like who’s having to deal with it [the criticism] but it doesn’t really bother me because I am proud of my family, proud of my father and I am not taking this in a negative way.

“I would like to also add that it is a challenge that I have to prove myself in Formula 1 and I am going to do it.”

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The 22-year-old will partner Mick Schumacher at Haas, the team taking on an all-rookie line up.

Mazepin acknowledges it won’t be an “easy” season for the team which has also opted not to develop this year’s car.

“It’s obviously not going to be an easy year – I don’t think any year in F1 is easy,” he said.

“Nevertheless the year that has the most amount of races with the least amount of testing and a shortened FP1 and FP2, I think for the rookies it will be a demanding factor.

“But it’s a real challenge that I’m actually looking forward to taking [on].”

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