Russian teenager Nikita Mazepin will graduate into the FIA Formula 3 European Championship next season after finalising a deal with Hitech GP to pilot a Dallara-Mercedes in the globe’s premier, and most hotly contested, F3 series.
The 16-year-old from Moscow, who has a longstanding association with Hitech GP team owner Oliver Oakes, will partner Britain’s George Russell at the Silverstone-based squad which is aiming to make an impact on the established order when it makes its full debut in FIA Formula 3 in 2016.
Mazepin arrives in the prestigious championship off the back of a notable maiden season in cars this year in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC). Ending the year 12th overall in the driver standings, he was the sixth highest placed rookie and achieved his maiden podium in only the third race meeting of the campaign at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
“Since the Renault season finished I have tested the F3 car a few times and I really liked it, the aero and braking is a big step forward from what I have been used to”, said Mazepin, “There are a good number of drivers in recent times who have proved F3 is one of the very best single-seater series in the world for developing talent, so I am really happy to be racing in the FIA championship in 2016.
“This season was a good first year for me in cars, I had some good results – it was great to be on the podium at the Red Bull Ring – and learnt a lot. Now, I really am looking forward to stepping up into F3 with the guys at Hitech GP. I’ve got a great relationship with Oli [Oakes], have known him a long time, and I know the team will do an incredible job.”
Starting his involvement with racing at just seven years of age in his native Russia, Mazepin began participating at a competitive level in the 60cc Mini Karting Championship and within two years he won the Russian Championship Cup.
Moving into international competition in 2010, the youngster’s career rocketed in 2012 when he met Oakes who began to oversee Mazepin’s career and brokered a deal with the official ‘works’ Tony Kart Racing Team. Instantly becoming a race winner in the WSK Masters Series and a front runner in the Italian Karting Championship, his career highlight followed in 2014.
Producing a sensational campaign in the premier KF Class in the CIK-FIA World Championship, Mazepin ended the season as Vice-Champion. He also graduated into cars that same year and notably claimed a podium finish in his first ever race in the Indian-based MRF Challenge.
Gaining more experience in the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand at the beginning of 2015, he then joined the hotly-contested Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) where he produced a stellar season. Mazepin will be backed throughout 2016 by Uralkali and Uralchem.
David Hayle, Hitech GP Team Manager:
“We followed Nikita’s results closely over the course of this season in Formula Renault – like any young driver, the step-up from karting to cars is never an easy one but he had some good weekends, good results, and conducted himself well. Moving up to F3 is obviously a step up from what he has done so far, but from the job he has done in testing with us I am confident in Nikita’s ability to do us proud next season in FIA F3.”
Oliver Oakes, Hitech GP Team Owner:
“We’re very happy to have signed Nikita to partner George [Russell] next season, he is a talented young driver and made a good impression in Formula Renault this year. In testing so far Nikita has done an excellent job, he has fitted in extremely well with the team and I am sure he will produce some good performances next year.”