The Haas F1 team has confirmed controversial driver Nikita Mazepin will race for the team next season, after completing their internal investigation into a recent video published to Instagram.
Mazepin came under heavy scrutiny not long after it was announced he would be joining the Haas team, when he posted a video to Instagram which appeared to show him groping a female companion.
'WE’LL BE BACK': McLaren boss' huge F1 call before Ricciardo arrival
'LOST SO MUCH': F1 champ's startling admission about COVID-19
The footage generated substantial backlash from F1 fans, prompting Haas to promise an investigation and label Mazepin’s actions ‘abhorrent’.
The Russian driver, whose quest to join the F1 ranks has been aided significantly by billionaire father Dmitry, apologised after the video went public earlier in December.
Haas announced on social media that, after completing their investigation into their rookie driver, Mazepin would indeed remain on the team for 2021.
The announcement, coupled with the team’s refusal to divulge any details into their investigation, prompted another round of frustration from F1 fans.
“Haas F1 Team would like to reaffirm that Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher will form its driver lineup for the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship,” the team statement read.
“As per the team’s previous statement regarding the actions of Nikita Mazepin (9 December) - this matter has now been dealt with internally and no further comment shall be made.”
Haas F1’s Nikita Mazepin investigation sparks outrage
Mazepin’s actions, combined with his status as a ‘pay’ driver in F1, have prompted more frustration from F1 fans, with the ‘SayNoToMazepin’ hashtag frequently appearing on social media.
Haas’ announcement of their completed investigation was labelled ‘massively disappointing’ by fans on social media.
Veteran F1 journalist Scott Mitchell said it was ‘not good enough’ that the results of the investigation were being kept in-house, and suggested the FIA should have conducted their own, independent inquiry.
“Very disappointed whatever action taken isn’t being shared publicly,” Mitchell wrote.
“Further reason why proper F1 and FIA investigation was necessary.
Very disappointed whatever action taken isn’t being shared publicly. Further reason why proper #F1 and FIA investigation was necessary. There’s a duty to ensure this was handled correctly. Instead the grey areas/uncertainties remain. Not good enough. https://t.co/Zhknkkx7bK
— Scott Mitchell (@SMitchellF1) December 23, 2020
Last week Nikita Mazepin posted a deplorable video showing him sexually harassing a woman to his Instagram. Today, @HaasF1Team have decided not to fire him and the @fia has sat silent despite the clear violation of the International Sporting Code. Absolute disgrace for motorsport
— MP for America (@IvanenkoArty) December 23, 2020
Also the last few years have shown @HaasF1Team will run blindly towards money with little regard to ... much of anything else. Values, reputation and just general organisational competence has been a disaster
— Chain Bear (@chainbear) December 23, 2020
I must admit I am also stunned at the lack of action or proper statement from @F1 and the @FIA.
Mazepin is bringing their sport into disrepute and all they've said so far is: 'That's a problem for Haas, not us'. #F1
— Chris Medland (@ChrisMedlandF1) December 23, 2020
“There’s a duty to ensure this was handled correctly. Instead the grey areas/uncertainties remain. Not good enough.”
Haas had earlier commented on the video when it first came to light in early December.
“Haas F1 Team does not condone the behaviour of Nikita Mazepin in the video recently posted on his social media,” the team posted on Twitter.
“Additionally, the very fact that the video was posted on social media is also abhorrent to Haas F1 Team.”
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.