Force India’s Formula 1 development driver Nikita Mazepin has earned the inglorious honour of being banned from a European Formula 3 Championship race after punching a rival driver in the face.
The incident took place at the championship’s second round of the season at the Hungaroring this weekend, where Mazepin approached British driver Callum Ilott and – apparently upset at being held up while on a quick run – remonstrated with him before punching Ilott in the face.
The pair was separated, but Mazepin broke free and went in for a second swing. Ilott was hit again, with the shaken driver suffering a black eye and a swollen jaw.
Incredibly the FIA Stewards – who famously issued a number of race bans during last year’s F3 championship season for a raft of appalling driving standards – only gave Mazepin a one-race ban, thereby still allowing the youngster to compete in the weekend’s second and third races.
“This is a ridiculous decision by the stewards,” said Frits van Amersfoort, boss of the Van Amersfoort Racing told Autosport. “Callum was attacked twice in the face – twice! The first reaction might be emotional, but then they were separated and he was attacked again.
“He has a black eye, he has a swollen jaw, he’s been hurt, not just attacked. When you make a tackle on the football field and the other player kicks you, he gets a red card immediately. I’m utterly disappointed by the stewards and the FIA.”
Mazepin was something of a surprise signing to Force India’s development roster at the start of the year. His father Dmitry is the owner of the Uralchem Integrated Chemicals Company and has a personal fortune of over $1.4 billion along with multiple allegations of illegal business dealings.
Mazepin finished runner-up in the 2014 CIK-FIA World Karting championship before making an unconvincing open-wheel racing debut by finishing twelfth overall in the 2015 Formula Renault 2.0 NEC series.
For the record, Mazepin retired from Race 2 and finished thirteenth out of sixteen runners in Race 3 and runs last in the eight-driver Rookies’ Championship standings.
Ilott – who won a race at the season-opening round at Paul Ricard – fared better, finishing ninth and sixth in the same races to consolidate equal-eighth in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Force India has been contacted for comment.
Images via FIA F3 and Gregory Heirman