Formula 2 racer Nikita Mazepin has been announced as the first driver in Haas’s 2020 Formula 1 line-up.
The young Russian is currently third in the driver’s standings with one round remaining, and his strong performances and substantial financial backing made him an enticing prospect for the team.
He is expected to be joined at Haas by current F2 championship leader Mick Schumacher with the team taking an entirely new driver roster since it was announced they would be releasing both its current drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
Schumacher’s promotion from F2 to F1 has all but been confirmed with Prema, who he races for F2, confirming yesterday that reigning F3 champion Oscar Piastri will be joining the team next season.
“I’m delighted that Nikita Mazepin will be driving for Haas F1 team next season,” said team principal Guenther Steiner.
“Nikita has underlined his credentials in Formula 2 this year with a brace of victories and a handful of podiums in what’s been a strong sophomore season for him.
“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 2 over the past two seasons.”
Mazepin’s departure also leaves a vacant seat in the 2021 Hitech GP F2 line-up.
For rising Kiwi star Liam Lawson, who raced for the British team this year in Formula 3, it opens the door for a promotion to the second-tier series.
On Monday morning it was revealed that Lawson would be testing for Hitech in Bahrain next week for the official F2 post-season test.
Hitech GP owner Oliver Oakes says the test will be conducted with the view of having the Kiwi step up into his team.
“I am looking forward to have Liam test with us at the post-season Formula 2 test. He had a strong year with us in F3 fighting for the championship until the final round, despite some unlucky DNF’s hurting his title aspirations,” said Oakes.
“Liam has very much become part of the Hitech family so it is a natural graduation for him to try the car with the view of stepping up in ’21.”
Joining Lawson in the second Hitech seat for the three-day test is fellow Red Bull Junior Juri Vips.
Vips was set to race Super Formula this season. But when the Covid-19 pandemic closed Japan’s borders to international travellers, Vips had his plans stalled.
Instead, he raced nine rounds of the Formula Regional Championship where he collected three podiums.
He will replace Luca Ghiotto who has partnered Mazepin this season in F2.
Hitech currently sits third in the F2 teams’ championship in its first season in the category.