Schumacher inspired me to chase F1 goal, says new Haas signing Mazepin
New Haas signing Nikita Mazepin has revealed Michael Schumacher was the inspiration behind his quest to reach Formula One.
Moscow-born Mazepin will race alongside his hero's son Mick after signing as one half of Haas' new-look line-up for 2021.
Explaining his worship for the seven-time F1 champion, Mazepin said: "I always looked up to Michael Schumacher.
"My first ever helmet was given [to me] by my dad and that was a replica of his [Schumacher's] helmet. So that is who I looked up to as a kid.
"Then when you get involved in the sport pretty seriously, since the age of 12 I haven't really looked up to anyone apart from those that are doing well in the current season or in a championship that I am racing in."
Mazepin is under no illusion that his debut campaign next year will be a challenging one given the lack of performance of this year's car that will spill over in 2021.
As team boss Guenther Steiner has already revealed, there will be no development on the car after January due to the focus on 2022 when new regulations are introduced.
"Graduating to F1 is going to be exciting regardless of how [well] performing the car is," added Mazepin.
"At this stage in my career, it's irrelevant to speak if the car is good or not. I'm obviously aware the team has had a difficult year. My focus is on getting ready for F1.
"The car is very different to what I'm used to and the calendar is also going to be almost double what I'm used to, so those are the challenges that are ahead of me and that is my focus for now."
One immediate challenge he faces is with regard to his race number. Mazepin has used 99 for much of his career, but that is already taken by Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi.
"I was born in 1999 and throughout my career I have used this number, 99, most of the time when it is available and have succeeded with it," explained Mazepin.
"So that is the number I would like to have. However, I am aware that it is not going to be possible with Antonio having the number, so I am going to be looking at alternative options in the near future."
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