Ex-F1 driver Nikita Mazepin was victorious on his return to motorsport and is now considering an entry into the Dakar Rally.
In Mazepin’s first motorsport action since Haas terminated his contract ahead of the 2022 Formula 1 season, he came out on top in the T3 class at the Silk Way Rally.
Mazepin took part in the 10-day rally raid event in an SSV (‘side-by-side’) vehicle – one of the classes included in the Dakar Rally field.
So could this experience prove to be the set-up for a debut at Dakar?
“Will the Dakar be in my career? We’ll see,” said Mazepin on Match TV’s ‘All to Match!’ programme.
“Before the Dakar, we need to do a lot of work to prepare for the sands because there are much more of them.
“Emotionally, I understand better now what is required of me. The Dakar starts this year on December 31 and ends on January 15. That’s 15 fighting days behind the wheel. I’ve finished 10 and I feel tired, so I need to weigh up everything and get ready.”
There is a current Formula 1 driver who has experienced the Dakar Rally, that being Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.
During his two-season hiatus from Formula 1, Alonso made his sole appearance at the 2020 staging of the Dakar Rally with Toyota Gazoo Racing.
Mazepin said he took great interest in Alonso’s performance and previously had spokne to him about rally raids on one of the Formula 1 parade laps.
During that conversation, Mazepin said Alonso told him he would like to have another go.
Asked by Match TV if he had talked to Alonso before competing in the Silk Way Rally, Mazepin replied: “I think Fernando’s performance gave me a chance to get more familiar with the Dakar.
“It was interesting for me to see how a man who competes on asphalt would compete off-road. At one of the F1 driver parades I asked him if he liked rally raids. And Fernando replied he would like to go back.
“In June, I took part in the Ladoga Trophy on a quad bike and now I compete in an ATV (all-terrain vehicle). I like it, it’s what I would like to do when I’m not in F1, if I have a contract with a team or any other kind of work.”