Nikita Mazepin Should Keep Talking

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Nikita Mazepin has been talking a lot lately, like giving an interview to the BBC a couple of weeks to talk about cancel culture. More recently, he gave an interview to CNN in which he decried Formula 1’s “values.”

All of this is in the context of sanctions imposed on the Russian and his father, a consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which also cost Mazepin his seat in Formula 1. All of that, too, means that Mazepin has lots of time on his hands these days. And, while there was once a time that I wished that he would shut up and go away forever, I now hope for the opposite. Keep giving whine-y interviews, Nikita, I hope it goes like this for a while.

“My view on [the war] is that, whatever is going on right now — and I can only see very small bits where I am in Moscow — it’s very painful, and I definitely feel it. I’ve been living for 23 years, and I was living in a very calm world. As to my official position, I’ve said many times that it’s very important to be neutral for me, because I’m an athlete,” Mazepin said recently on CNN, going on to mention the foundation he founded to “help athletes stay neutral.”I’m not a politician to speak out on this. I don’t have enough knowledge to be making this decision. Public neutrality is important. People should have a right to speak. And they also should have a right not to speak if they wish to do so.

The CNN host, Richard Quest, then asked Mazepin if his dad is in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

“Everyone has now become a part of Putin’s inner circle. That’s become a kind of trope,” Mazepin said, before turning philosophical. “If thinking people analyzed the number of people currently described as members of Putin’s inner circle, they will ask themselves the question of how inner is that circle.”

As for actual car racing, Mazepin said: “It’s difficult to say [when I’ll be back] at this moment in time because I’m very wary that my issues — I lost a job and I was trying to get to Formula 1 for 17 years and then I eventually got there — but it’s a very minor issue if you compare it to the big things that is going in the world right now. I would love to get back to the sport. I feel that I have a lot of unfinished business there. But I need to wait until things cool down. I don’t even know who I can get back to. Haas has obviously done what they did, playing not the cleanest game in my opinion.”

“FIA has enabled me to compete, as long as I’m neutral. The biggest issue here, coming back to the sport, is what teams are allowed to keep sponsorship money without fulfilling the contract, even asking for more, even though they say they don’t want money from Russia,” Mazepin said, a reference to Haas’s attempts to get millions from him for lost profits. “The sport’s values need to be evaluated.”

Mazepin is not wrong that F1’s values need to be evaluated, but not in the way that he thinks. Formula 1 teams, in any case, would be right in not hiring Mazepin as a driver based on merit, alone, but, with each new interview, he seems to be digging a deeper and deeper hole. I’m not even sure what his play is here, other than that he has to keep talking, and probably will I’d guess. It’s all he has left.

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