Nikita Mazepin has highlighted the intensity of the schedule as one of his biggest challenges when stepping up to Formula 1 next year.
The 21-year-old Russian will drive for Haas, with the worst-kept-secret in F1 finally being confirmed as Mazepin was announced alongside Mick Schumacher in an all-rookie 2021 line-up for the American-owned team.
The duo are being brought in from the Formula 2 Championship, which concludes in Bahrain at the weekend when Schumacher will attempt to turn his 14-point advantage in the drivers’ standings into title victory.
Mazepin is third in the list and still has a mathematical chance of pipping his future team-mate to the crown – albeit an extremely slim one, especially as Callum Ilott is much better positioned should Schumacher endure a poor final weekend.
Although the F2 series will have comprised 24 races this year, seven more than F1, it is not as gruelling because each of the 12 weekends has contained both a sprint and a feature race.
That means the travelling in particular has not been as demanding as F1 will be in 2021, with a 23-race schedule organised provided the global health pandemic allows.
It’s something which Mazepin sees as one of the biggest differences as he prepares to join life in the elite category.
I am happy to announce that i will be racing in Formula 1 with @HaasF1Team ! I would like to thank the team for their trust and everyone involved along the way in my career. #TeamNM pic.twitter.com/GUEPhYAnu2
— Nikita Mazepin (@nikita_mazepin) December 1, 2020
“I’m hugely excited. It’s excitement mixed with thinking to get ready for the challenge that’s coming up,” said Mazepin in an interview with the Formula 1 website.
“Obviously there are some changes going into next year with the calendar being bigger than whatever I’ve done in my life and even the F1 teams are saying it’s long, so I’ve definitely got to be ready and I’m excited to start getting ready soon.”
Although there has been speculation for a month or so that Mazepin or Schumacher would be the drivers replacing Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen at Haas, the Moscow-born racer insisted it had only been recently that he was given the news.
“I found out about it a few days back,” said Mazepin, winner of two F2 races this year at Silverstone and Mugello.
“I was racing my F2 race weekend [in Bahrain] knowing it was kind of done, so there was slightly increased pressure because of it.
“However, I’m very happy I could show a good result during those races [fifth and second] and it’s been good so far.”