Former Haas driver Nikita Mazepin made his return to motorsport over the weekend – and came out on top in the T3 class in 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 – and emerged on top over the course of a weekend after switching categories to come back into motorsport.
The 23-year-old was let go by the Haas team just before the start of this season after Russian-licensed drivers were banned from motorsport, with Kevin Magnussen returning to take his place and going on to score 22 points in the first half of the Formula 1 campaign.
Mazepin has now become involved in motorsport again after his solitary Formula 1 season, and was pleased to stand on the top step of the podium after what he explained was a completely different experience to what he had been used to in his career to date.
“Compared to the Formula 1 [cars], the only common thing is the steering wheel and four wheels. It was very hot, very challenging and it was the real test. I’m incredibly happy I managed to win,” Mazepin told the TASS news agency, quoted by Speedweek.
“It was a great experience that I would like to repeat. Ten days of off-road left an unforgettable impression. We went through a lot with the team during the rally. It was very intense – it felt like a month.
“It’s important to mention this is not only my success but also the victory of the whole team, which did a tremendous job with the car every night.
“I have a better understanding of what a rally marathon is, but I’m not giving up my career in top-level motorsport.”
Mazepin said recently he has “confidence” a Formula 1 return is possible in the near future for him, although he is currently in a legal wrangle with Haas over alleged unpaid wages following his abrupt departure in March which he decried at the time as being evidence of “cancel culture”.
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