Mazepin Responds to Lewis Hamilton’s ‘Billionaire Boys Club’ Jibe: “An Easy Target to Pick”
September 23 2021 , 9:20 am
Over the years, a debate has been spurring out of certain F1 teams’ preference of pay drivers over junior programme drivers. And recently, Lewis Hamilton, who had massive backing from McLaren throughout his teen years, alleged that F1 must resist entertaining the preference of ‘billionaire’s kids’.
This particular opinion was pointed at Nikita Mazepin, who is one of the pay drivers in F1 at the moment. During a podcast, Mazepin respected Hamilton’s point of view but reckoned that he is looking at current ‘special times’ in a rather positive way.
The Russian opened up that Hamilton was one of the fewest drivers he looked up to during his younger years in the racing and reckoned he was aware of the hardships the Briton had to fight through to find a seat in F1. However, he is not ready to accept Hamilton’s opinion on pay drivers.
“I don’t think that’s what’s happening right now. I think we could be living in special times,” he said while featuring in the Beyond the Grid podcast.
“Back in the day, loads of young drivers were supported by junior academies of car brands, energy drinks. I think in my shoes, what I see is that it is important to look at success not in a negative way.
“If you look at myself and my dad, I think it’s a beautiful story of my dad supporting me in my ambitions and helping me master myself and get better,” Mazepin added.
I’ve done loads of sacrifices to race in F1: Mazepin
Mazepin opined that Hamilton’s claim wasn’t factually correct, as pointed out that several other pay drivers have managed to outperform junior drivers in F1.
“I wasted a lot of free time to think about the sport, I started driving when I was 5. I moved away from home and didn’t see my family,” he said. “And I’ve done loads of sacrifices which every driver on the grid has done as well in a very similar way. So, I think we all deserve to be here.
“The other drivers, that the statement is referring to have all won numerous Formula series, races, championships and have proved themselves to be the same or even better at times than junior drivers from Mercedes or Sauber or Ferrari. So, I think just because that could be an easy target to pick up, I don’t think it’s factually correct.”
Overall, even Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi had received a similar level of hate after the Canadians made their way into F1 with the help of funds. However, in time, they’ve proven to be as worthy as their colleagues.
While Stroll has a pole and several podiums to his name, Latifi has managed to score some decent points for the struggling Williams. So, with Mazepin still competing as a rookie, can he unlock a much better level of performance, come 2022? Well, we’ll know in time.