MANAMA (Reuters) – Russian billionaire’s son Nikita Mazepin will race for Haas in 2021 after agreeing a multi-year deal, the U.S.-based Formula One team announced on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old is currently third in the Formula Two standings and is expected to be joined at Haas next season by F2 leader Mick Schumacher, son of Ferrari great and seven times world champion Michael Schumacher.
“Becoming a Formula One driver is a lifelong dream come true for me,” said Mazepin in a team statement ahead of the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain.
Mazepin’s father Dmitry owns Russian fertilizer maker Uralchem and tried to buy the Force India team after it went into administration in 2018, losing out to Canadian Lawrence Stroll.
Mazepin senior, through the Uralkali business that he co-owns, is taking legal action in London against the former joint administrators of Force India following their acceptance of Stroll’s bid.
Stroll’s son Lance now races for the renamed Racing Point team that will become Aston Martin next year.
Nikita Mazepin has won two Formula Two feature races this season with four additional podium placings. The Formula Two season ends in Bahrain this weekend.
“Nikita has underlined his credentials in Formula Two this year,” said Haas team boss Guenther Steiner.
“He’s developed into a mature racer moving up through the junior ranks – notably most recently in the GP3 Series, where he finished runner-up in 2018, and obviously in Formula Two over the past two seasons.”
Haas announced in October that French driver Romain Grosjean, involved in a fiery crash in Bahrain last Sunday, and Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen would leave at the end of the year.
Grosjean said at the time of the announcement that Steiner had told him “for financial reasons, I need both of you out”.
Steiner, who had been open in acknowledging money as well as talent would be considered in driver selection, said last week that the team’s big achievement this year had been their survival.
The Ferrari-powered team are ninth of 10 in the standings with just three points from 15 races in a season hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Alison Williams and Andrew Cawthorne)