Nyck de Vries, a works Mercedes driver in Formula E, has defended 2021 Formula 1 rookie Nikita Mazepin.
Mazepin, 21, is under fire from Haas, Formula 1 and the FIA for a social media video in which he allegedly groped a female friend.
It may already have had repercussions for the Russian, as he was expected to appear in Mercedes’ 2020 car in the young driver test next week.
But suddenly it has been announced that Mercedes’ Formula E stars de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne will test instead. Toto Wolff denied that Mazepin has been stepped down because of the groping affair.
Dutchman de Vries commented: “The chance came out of nowhere for me, but I had known about it for a while. Since the end of October to be precise.
“I had to keep it quiet for almost two months,” he told Ziggo Sport.
The 25-year-old said he is currently in quarantine in Abu Dhabi ahead of the test.
“I have already been tested for the coronavirus and I will be tested again on Saturday, after which I can come out of quarantine,” said de Vries.
“I will drive Lewis’ car but use Bottas’ seat because it fits me better. I almost drowned in Hamilton’s so it’s easier to put some padding in Bottas’. I also have Lewis’ crew and will use number 21,” he revealed.
As for the Mazepin affair, de Vries brushed over the controversy ahead of the Russian driver’s 2021 debut for Haas next year.
“He does have a certain reputation but he can certainly show some good things in Formula 1,” he said.
“He won two races this year – three actually if you don’t include his penalty. That’s more than Mick Schumacher,” de Vries pointed out.
“I also dare to say that he has been in the top three more or at least as much as Mick in qualifying. Time will tell how he will go.”