A woman seen in the controversial video that's landed Nikita Mazepin in hot water, has leapt to the defence of the soon-to-be Formula One star.
Mazepin is yet to make his debut for Haas in F1, but has already managed to land himself in trouble with his new team.
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The young Russian driver sparked outrage when he posted a video on Instagram that Haas have slammed for being "abhorrent".
The clip - which was subsequently deleted from Mazepin's page - showed the 21-year-old sitting in the back seat of a car where he reaches and grabs a woman sitting next to him inappropriately by the chest.
The lady then moves his hand away and raises a middle finger, before swatting the camera away.
Mazepin was forced to apologise over the backlash the video caused, admitting that he had caused "embarrassment" because of the "inappropriate" video.
However, the woman in the clip has since come forward to defend the young driver, insisting that the pair are friends and it was only ever meant to be a harmless joke.
Andrea D’lVal claims that she was the one that uploaded the video to Instagram and was sorry for the trouble it's caused.
“Hi guys, I just want to let you know Nikita and I have been good friends for a long time and nothing from that video was serious at all!” she wrote.
“We trust each other so much and this was a silly way of joking between us.
“I posted this video on his story as an internal joke. I am truly sorry.
“I can give you my word he’s a really good person and he would never do anything to hurt me or humiliate me.”
F1 team condemns social media video
Haas was scathing in its criticism of the young driver, having released a statement condemning the social media video.
"Haas F1 Team does not condone the behaviour of Nikita Mazepin in the video recently posted on his social media," the F1 team said in a statement.
"Additionally, the very fact that the video was posted on social media is also abhorrent to Haas F1 Team.
"The matter is being dealt with internally and no further comment shall be made at this time."
Mazepin also issued a statement expressing his regret.
"I would like to apologise for my recent actions, both in terms of my own inappropriate behaviour, and the fact that it was posted on to social media," he said.
"I am sorry for the offence I have rightly caused and to the embarrassment I have brought to Haas F1 Team.
"I have to hold myself to a higher standard as a Formula One driver and I acknowledge I have let myself and many people down. I promise I will learn from this."
Mazepin, the son of billionaire businessman Dmitry Mazepin, was only announced as an F1 driver for 2021 last week.
He will race alongside Formula Two champion Mick Schumacher in a new-look pairing at Haas next year.
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