F1 rookie Nikita Mazepin has given his first interview since the “breast-grabbing” video scandal that damaged his reputation, saying he has learnt from the incident while revealing he hasn’t had contact with the woman involved.
In December, the new Haas driver was embroiled in a huge scandal after posting a video on his Instagram account showing him grabbing at the breast of a female friend who was sitting in the back of a car.
The woman was later named as model Andrea D’Ival, while the public outrage surrounding the video caused Mazepin to remove it from his Instagram page and issue a public apology.
Formula One condemned Mazepin’s behavior, with Haas subsequently describing his actions as “abhorrent.”
The deletion of the video didn’t stop Formula One fans from launching a hashtag, #WeSayNoToMazepin, asking Haas to terminate their newly-signed contract with the Russian driver.
“First of all, it’s very important to say that my actions in December about the whole incident were incorrect,” Mazepin told in an interview with ESPN. “I do take full responsibility for it.
“It was a very big learning experience and I can confidently say that I’m much further in my knowledge on this kind of matter than I used to be, so there’s a small bit of positivity there.”
For God sake cant everyone just drop this now, he made a mistake, he hasn’t got an overly clean past but hes young and deserves the chance to right it, god job none of you lot were fans in 70s and 80s wat drivers were back then
— Jamie Squires (@JamiefSquires) February 24, 2021
The 21-year-old said he hasn’t contacted the woman seen on the video since the incident which has, by now, substantially undermined his credibility.
Reacting to the outrage and fans’ desire to remove him from the team, the driver said he totally “understands”’ their reaction, adding that he will try to change their opinion about him.
“I totally understand,” he said. “They are correct in their feelings and that I was not correct with my actions.
“I’m not proud of it. It’s important to progress. I will be myself outside of the track, like I’ve been.
“I’ve had my ups and my lows, but that’s part of life. I think the racing should do the speaking, mostly.
“The people who are with me over the past 21 years know who I am. It’s very difficult to be fake for people and I’m far from that.
“I believe I’m a very good racer on track; I believe I’m a fast racer. I’m actually looking forward to the challenge of showing people who might not like me at the moment that I have great racing skills. Hopefully that changes the perception of me.”