Formula 1 team Haas has received a torrent of vile abuse after posting a clip of Nikita Mazepin winning in F2.
After being announced as a Haas driver for the coming season at the start of December, Mazepin then became the villain of F1 days later after the Russian posted on social media a video of himself groping a woman.
Pressure mounted on Haas to drop the 21-year-old. Although the team initially described the incident as "abhorrent", it later announced the issue had “been dealt with internally and no further comment shall be made”.
Since declaring its decision on December 23, Haas had not mentioned Mazepin on its social media channels, posting only about former drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen and its other new recruit for this year, Mick Schumacher.
Responses, however, often included the hashtag 'WeSayNoToMazepin’.
The team’s decision to post its first tweet about Mazepin since the incident has sparked a torrent of abusive messages towards the team and driver. As of 1pm UK time, there had been over 2,600 replies to the tweet.
One reply to the video of Mazepin's past success read: "How disgusting from Haas to give him a seat. I thought it was a team of values and respect. Clearly it is not."
Others pointed to the financial benefit to Haas of Mazepin being in the seat and twisted the F1 'WeRaceAsOne' message to read "WeRaceForMoney".
Among the expletive-laden responses to the Haas tweet, there were a number of fans who, whether through tiredness of the topic or an acceptance that Haas has made its decision, simply want to move on from the discussion.
The Haas Twitter admin was also a figure of much ire, but this stopped as a growing number of people pointed out that person would not have had a say in the team's decision to hire Mazepin.
Given the nature of the incident and the sensitivity of the topic, it is unlikely the tension between Haas and the fans will ease as the season approaches.
How the team attempts to rebuild bridges with F1's fanbase is yet to be seen, but with a single tweet garnering such a high level of attention, the scale of the task before the team has now been revealed.
What do you think?
I believe that the sponsors and the team with eventually realise that axing the Russian driver is the best thing they can do. There is another better Russian without a drive! Lance the boil before it bursts.
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