Hitech Grand Prix’s Nikita Mazepin will make the step up to Formula 1 in 2021, with HAAS confirming that they have signed the Russian driver for the new season on a multi-year contract.

Mazepin – who has tested F1 machinery before with Force India in 2016, 2017 and 2018, as well as world champions Mercedes in 2019 – becomes the sixth driver to graduate from Formula 2 to F1, joining Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Lando Norris, Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi in the top tier of motorsport.

The Formula 2 title contender is the American team’s first confirmed driver for the new campaign, following the announcement of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen’S departure in October, after four years with the team.

“Becoming a Formula 1 driver is a lifelong dream come true for me,” said Nikita Mazepin. “I really appreciate the trust being put in me by Gene Haas, Guenther Steiner, and the whole of the team.

“They’re giving a young driver an opportunity and I thank them for that. I’m looking forward to starting our relationship together, both on and off the track, and I’m naturally keen to continue to demonstrate my abilities after a strong Formula 2 season.

“The team will be looking to me for feedback and inputs in order to refine its package for 2021 and beyond. I will take that responsibility on and can’t wait to get started.”

Mazepin was the 2018 GP3 vice-champion, scoring four wins and four podiums to finish second to the late Anthoine Hubert. Stepping up to F2 in 2019, he was initially slow to acclimatise, before a switch to Hitech in 2020 produced a stark turnaround of form.

The 21-year-old is currently third in the Drivers’ Championship, 29 points off second placed Callum Ilott. After a slow start to the season, where he scored just once in the opening four races, Mazepin has taken two wins and four podiums, becoming one of the most consistent drivers on the grid.

Nikita Mazepin in car No.24 Hitech Grand Prix

“I’m delighted that Nikita Mazepin will be driving for Haas F1 Team next season,” said HAAS 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. I’m excited to see what Nikita can achieve in Formula 1 and we look forward to giving him the opportunity to compete at the highest level of world motorsport.

“With a record-setting 23 race schedule set for the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, he’s going to get plenty of track action to learn all the nuances of grand prix racing.”

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