The Haas driver Nikita Mazepin has hit back at Lewis Hamilton’s comment’s during the Monaco Grand Prix, suggesting Formula 1 has become a ‘billionaire boys’ club.’
Speaking to Spain’s AS newspaper, the seven-time world champion said he believed it wouldn’t have been possible for him to break into the championship from his background now, and that F1 needed to do more to help those from more humble backgrounds to have a chance to compete.
But the 36-year-old, who was raised on a Stevenage council estate, has claimed F1 has now become just a playing ground for the wealthy.
“Growing up in a normal working-class family, there is no way I could be here – the guys you are fighting against have that much more money,” Hamilton said.
As it stands on the grid now, Canadians Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi, and Russian Nikita Mazepin, are the sons of billionaires, with Stroll’s father now part-owning Aston Martin F1.
Before F1, Hamilton’s father, Anthony, said he worked multiple jobs to help fund his son’s career before he was spotted by McLaren, aged 13.
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He added: “For me personally, we live in a time when this has become a billionaire boys’ club. If I had to start over from a working-class family, it would be impossible for me to be here today. Because the other kids would have a hell of a lot more money.
“We have to work to change that to make it more accessible, for the rich and for people with more humble origins.”
Mazepin, who has had a tough start to his Formula One career both on and on track, hit back at the Briton saying other drivers do receive funding from other avenues, including sponsors like Monster Energy drinks, who have a personal contract with Hamilton.
“All newcomers to F1 received support from various sponsors,” explained Mazepin to sports.ru.
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“These are all the people who are present on the F1 grid today – and I can give examples for a long time.”
Speaking of his relationship with Hamilton, the rookie said: “We have always had a very correct relationship.
“We haven’t communicated much, but in the paddock, everyone is very polite so I don’t feel anything negative.”
F1 heads to Paul Ricard in a weeks’ time, with Max Verstappen leading the way in the driver standings by four points, with Red Bull now stretching their legs at the top of the Constructors’ Championship by 26 points.
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