Russian Formula One driver Nikita Mazepin has admitted he made a “huge mistake” after he was filmed appearing to inappropriately touch a woman.
The incident, which at the time was described by the 22-year-old’s Haas team as “abhorrent”, was posted to Mazepin’s Instagram account in December.
The woman, sitting in the back of a car, seemed to reject Mazepin’s action, raising her middle finger. The video was later removed.
Mazepin, the son of billionaire businessman Dmitry Mazepin, had only been announced as an F1 driver in the days before the incident.
“As a driver you just focus on your job because it is very demanding on track and you try not to make mistakes out the circuit, but it can happen, and I have made a huge mistake,” Mazepin said on Thursday,
“How I reflect on my actions is pretty clear. I am not happy it happened. I am not proud of it. I didn’t behave as I am meant to behave as a Formula One driver and I have taken responsibility for it.
“We as human beings have to show a certain behaviour to each other to live in a calm world, and I am confident I will be one of those humans from now on.
“I am not going to be able to put words in people’s mouths, but I am confident with the effort I am putting in and the actions I am taking, the results will be there so I can let the racing do the talking. ”
The #SayNoToMazepin campaign trended on social media following the incident. Haas say they have dealt with the matter internally.
Mazepin continued: “Graduating to Formula One and being a Formula One driver means all of a sudden you become an example to a lot of young kids who are aiming to get to the same championship.
“With that, you have to bring a certain behaviour. I have not done that instantly. I was too late to realise that unfortunately and, in regards to what I have learned, it is quite clear.
“Firstly, the behaviour and secondly, how you should act on social media and off social media, too.”
Mazepin was speaking as Haas unveiled its new livery, which sports the Russian national colours following a sponsorship deal with Uralkali.
The Russian fertiliser company is co-owned by Mazepin’s father, Dmitry.
Mazepin will drive alongside Mick Schumacher in all-rookie line-up for Haas this season.