Haas boss Guenther Steiner says Nikita Mazepin has realized that this behaviour in a video published on social media was wrong, insisting the team will work with its new driver to help him learn from his mistake.
Back in December, Mazepin published and then deleted on his Instagram account a short video in which he was seen groping a young woman sat in the back of a car in which he was a passenger.
The Russian was heavily criticized by the F1 fan community while Haas addressed the issue in private with the 21-year-old.
Writing in his latest column for the website The Race, Steiner publicly addressed the controversy and how it will help its driver moving forward.
“He did something he shouldn’t have done, and we were very outspoken about what we thought about it at the time,” Steiner wrote.
“He’s apologised and he knows it was wrong, and now we need to work on it to give him the best opportunity to learn from this, concentrate on his racing and ensure he doesn’t do it anymore.
“He knows that. He realises that what was done wasn’t right.
“I’m not the type of guy who kicks in the face someone who’s on their knees – that’s not right,” added the Italian.
“This is a young man who needs to grow up and for sure we have dealt with this and we will continue to deal with this.
“We are not saying that this was OK and letting him get away with it. We are educating him and will keep on educating him for his future.”
Read also: Mazepin ‘not friends’ with ‘under pressure’ Schumacher
While Haas is counting on Mazepin being on his best behaviour from now on, its team boss warned that any wrongdoing or misconduct in the future will bear “consequences” for the Russian.
“There will be consequences if this or something similar happens again,” Steiner said. “We have put things in place that will help him to get better and make sure this doesn’t happen again; not to make the same mistake again, because this was a clear mistake.
“And he took responsibility, which for me was very important. I always say if you know what you did wrong you can do better. If you are in denial, then it doesn’t work.”
Haas’ decision not to part ways with Mazepin sparked a backlash on social media, and even from team members according to Steiner. The Italian says the reactions were predictable, but also an unwanted “distraction” for the US outfit.
“People have an opinion, that’s fine, also internally people didn’t like what happened, and this is why we continue to take this seriously,” he said.
“This is a distraction that we don’t want, but sometimes these things happen. Of course, I would have rather this had not happened, but we got in this position and now we have to work on it, it’s part of our job.”
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