NIKITA MAZEPIN has delivered a surprising statement on Mick Schumacher – describing his new Haas team-mate as ‘not a friend’.
Next season will see the Formula One team deploy the rookie pair after impressive performances in the F2 reserve series.
But Russian racer Mazepin, 21, has shrugged off his previous experience with Schumacher.
The pair raced as team-mates in karting, forming a relationship that the German recently described as having ‘a decent amount of respect’.
In conversation with Russian TV channel Match TV, via the Mail, Mazepin shot back: “We are not friends.
“At most we are old acquaintances as we raced together in karts.”
Mazepin also insisted that his new team-mate will be vulnerable to extra ‘pressure’ as the son of F1 legend Michael Schumacher.
He noted: “I honestly don’t care about his name.
“Because of the name he will have more power, but also more pressure.
“But when I lower the visor, I don’t think about these things anyway.”
Haas have already had to contend with one controversy surrounding their new driver.
In December, Mazepin filmed himself groping a woman in a car and uploaded the footage to Instagram.
The driver was forced to apologise for after condemnation from fans, Haas, F1 and governing body the FIA.
The American team have vowed to stick with their agreement for Mazepin to race next season, with the calendar scheduled to begin in Australia.
Yet the March 21 opener may have to be cancelled AGAIN due to the coronavirus pandemic.