Nikita Mazepin’s advice for the departing four, equates F1 exit to the stages of grief

Michelle Foster
Nikita Mazepin in Haas fireproofs. Barcelona February 2022.

Nikita Mazepin in Haas fireproofs before his axing by the team. Barcelona February 2022.

Nikita Mazepin has offered some advice to the four drivers who left the Formula 1 grid on Sunday, saying they’re about to go through the five stages of grief.

Formula 1 said farewell to Sebastian Vettel, Nicholas Latifi, Mick Schumacher and Daniel Ricciardo after Sunday’s season finale in Abu Dhabi.

But while for Vettel, and even Ricciardo, not racing next season was a choice – Vettel retiring and Ricciardo refusing to call Guenther Steiner, both Latifi and Schumacher were axed by their teams.

Latifi has known for a few weeks now that his Formula 1 career was over, but for Schumacher it was a “very disappointing” decision that he was only informed of last Wednesday.

His exit means Haas will have a completely changed line up for the second time in three seasons.

His departure, as well as that of the other three, got Mazepin thinking about what advice he could offer them as they deal with the emotions.

He wrote on Instagram: “Here’s what awaits you in the 5 stages of departing the stable…

“Stage 1: Denial. You will find yourself driving circles around your apartment building. Don’t make the mistake I made – turn on your stopwatch. It’s entirely possible that another F1 team will be interested in your results and you won’t have to endure the next 4 stages.

“Stage 2: Anger. You blame everyone but yourself for having to leave F1. Particularly the “Drive to Survive” film crew. You watch the races obsessively and yell at the screen.

“Stage 3: Bargaining. You hold a press conference where you put on a brave face and thank the team principal who fired you in hopes that your cheerful smile and natural charm will get you a seat with a new team.

“Stage 4: Depression. Drink, party on yacht, sleep it off, gain 5 kilos. Repeat on endless loop. This will not be an easy stage to get through, but your friends will enjoy it.

“Stage 5: Acceptance. Congratulations. You’ve reached the final grand prix of being shown the exit. You stop obsessing about F1 and start thinking about your next steps…while keeping yourself in shape and keeping the door open for a return!”

Mazepin’s comment for number one implies that another F1 team was interested in him but given the circumstances around his Haas departure, it seems unlikely that another team would have taken a chance on a Russian driver.

He also had a special note for the four, saying to Schumacher: “We grew up in this sport together, and I wish you luck going forward. I’m sure we will get a lot of likes from Pierre Gasly.”

For Ricciardo, he said: “I know you will always keep your sense of humour. I predict great things for you in Stage 4, where you can drink all kinds of things out of your shoes. Be creative!”

As for Vettel, he applauded his activism and told Latifi that “thanks to you, the team and fans can look optimistically into the future. No doubt you will surprise us.”

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