Haas see Mazepin perception changing after initial controversy

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Haas believe the public perception of Nikita Mazepin has improved during his rookie Formula 1 season.

The Russian faced a strong backlash on social media when a video of him inappropriately touching a woman was published on Instagram shortly after it was confirmed he would be racing for the American team in 2021.

Even today, any post involving Mazepin is still met with a barrage of negative comments, albeit mostly about his driving after earning the nickname 'MazeSpin' in the early race of the season.

Still, Haas chief Guenther Steiner claims the 22-year-old has improved his reputation during this year.

“I mean, not being in the headlines is a very good thing,” he said via GPFans.

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“I think, in the beginning, it seemed a never-ending story. Once it started to go away, I wouldn’t say things never go away completely, but they wind down.

“Part of it also is behaviour. People see that he’s not the person people wanted him to portray that he is.

“I would say that one – and I said at the beginning – I didn’t know him before the end of last year or I would say September, October time last year, so I didn’t know the guy, but when I got to know him, I said, ‘people think he is what he is not’.”

Reflecting on his rookie season, Mazepin admits he has been somewhat overwhelmed by the technical aspect of F1.

“I’ve enjoyed this year,” he said. “It’s been very different to what my expectations were and it’s been very different to any other year I’ve had.

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“I probably need a few engineering classes because I’ve always gone with the approach that a driver does his job and the engineers do theirs, but I think at the moment we speak a bit of a different language.

"I’m going to study, without joking, quite a few details of that to understand how I can also advise the team on making the car better because I think the way it’s working right now it’s not very promising.

“I’m just coming to realise it’s a lot more complex than I would have imagined at the beginning of this year in the technical side of things.”