Formula 1: Nikita Mazepin shouldn't be on the circuit, says Mario Andretti

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Former Formula 1 World Champion Mario Andretti has said that the sport is missing a trick not having a top American driver in one of the top cars at the moment as the sport looks to expand its US offering, whilst he also took a swipe at Nikita Mazepin.

F1 has had a regular US fixture on the calendar over the years, but there's always been an underlying feeling that the sport perhaps doesn't succeed in winning fans over as much as it should.

Indeed, NASCAR and IndyCar are both hugely popular in the States and so there is an obvious motorsport interest, but F1 still seems to have some work to do.

Saying that, the event in Austin, Texas has proven universally popular and a new circuit in Miami has been announced for next year, so perhaps now we're seeing momentum built for a more concerted attempt at establishing the sport in the country.

Its only F1 World Champion Mario Andretti, however, thinks even more can be done to advance the sport's popularity across the pond.

Speaking in an interview with Autosport, he suggested someone like Colton Herta - a young American star challenging for the IndyCar title this season - would be a great fit for one of the top teams in F1, whilst he also suggested someone like Nikita Mazepin shouldn't be on the grid.

“We’d need the American driver with a top team, not in the back with no chance.

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“If you could get an American driver in F1, producing results, you’d have America going crazy for F1.

“Mercedes sells a lot of cars here, it’s a huge market, imagine what they could do with [Herta?] It would juice up the TV ratings too. But it has to happen within a year or so, or they’ll consider him to be too old.

“He’s 21, so it’s a great time, and I realise the lack of testing and license restrictions. But, I mean, that Russian kid [Nikita Mazepin] gets a superlicence, and the guy who’s at the very top level over here can’t get one? There’s something wrong there!”

Certainly, Mazepin has taken a fair bit of stick so far in his fledgling F1 career, with an early crash in the opening race at Bahrain before an error-strewn weekend at Imola, where he suffered several spins across the three days.

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