Nikita Mazepin is about to make his Formula 1 debut on the back of a whirlwind of controversy. The Russian who in December posted a controversial video, which has since been deleted, faced a backlash of criticism culminating in the formation of the hashtag #WeSayNoToMazepin.
Signing for the Haas F1 team, there are those who believe that the Russian is on the grid predominantly due to his backing rather than his driving talent. Mazepin however seems unfazed by the comments being levied at him.
"There are certain reasons why I am being treated differently,” he told Match TV. "That has nothing to do with my performance in racing. I'm used to the criticism, but it doesn't affect me at all."
Mazepin went on to highlight the treatment of fellow Russian drivers such as Sergey Sirotkin and Daniil Kvyat to illustrate his point.
"They are really good racers and real professionals. But sometimes things were said about them that just weren't right, but that's just the way it is. It's a fact that Russians are treated differently and that's no surprise to me."
Despite already being reprimanded by Haas, Mazepin will make his F1 debut alongside Mick Schumacher when the season kicks off in Bahrain this year.