Haas Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin says he is “not proud” of his actions in his first interview addressing the controversy surrounding the video uploaded to his Instagram account.

Mazepin filmed himself groping a woman’s breast in a car in a video that was posted on his Instagram account late last year. Although the video was swiftly taken down, it had already been widely shared across social media.

Haas issued a statement condemning Mazepin’s behaviour as “abhorrent” but reaffirmed their commitment to the Russian driver, who will make his F1 debut this year with the American team after graduating from Formula 2.

Mazepin initially apologised for his conduct, but his statement has since been deleted. Speaking in an interview with ESPN, Mazepin insisted he has taken “full responsibility” and learned from what happened.

“First of all it’s very important to say that my actions in December about the whole incident were incorrect,” he said. “I do take the 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.”

F1 and its governing body the FIA did not take any action, instead leaving the investigation to Haas, with team principal Guenther Steiner repeatedly insisting the team took Mazepin’s behaviour seriously and would resolve the situation privately.

Asked whether he had taken any steps to educate himself, Mazepin replied: “I totally understand 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.”

Mazepin ultimately hopes his performances on the track will help rebuild his reputation.

"The people who are with me over the past 21 years know who I am,” he added. “It's very difficult to be fake for people and I'm far from that.

"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.

"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, that hopefully changes the perception of me."

 

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