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Nikita Mazepin banned for altercation in European Formula 3 paddock

Force India Formula 1 development driver Nikita Mazepin has been banned from the first race of the Hungaroring Formula 3 European Championship weekend for a physical altercation in the paddock

The stewards, which this weekend include five-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Emanuele Pirro, found the Russian teenager guilty of 'unsporting behaviour in the paddock after the finish of free practice two'.

Eye-witnesses reported that Mazepin got out his car and approached Callum Ilott, furious that the Briton had got in the way of a run on new tyres, and after an exchange of words he hit Ilott.

Ilott, who was visibly shaken by the incident, had cuts to his cheek and neck, and swelling to his jaw.

Frits van Amersfoort, boss of the Van Amersfoort Racing team that runs Ilott, was angered by the leniency of the penalty.

"This is a ridiculous decision by the stewards," he said.

"Callum was attacked twice in the face - twice! The first reaction might be emotional, but then they were separated and he was attacked again.

"He has a black eye, he has a swollen jaw, he's been hurt [emotionally], not just attacked."

Van Amersfoort also criticised the time taken to come to a decision, over nine hours after the incident.

"When you make a tackle on the football field and the other player kicks you, he gets a red card immediately," he said.

"I'm utterly disappointed by the stewards and the FIA."

Oliver Oakes, director of Mazepin's Hitech GP squad, said: "I don't know what the precedent is for this decision.

"Although Nikita's reaction was over the top I think they considered that in the heat of the moment some things were said that they didn't mean.

"Nikita is a young man who had a lot of adrenalin at that point, and he did something that he deeply regrets.

"I don't know what they said in the heat of the moment, but obviously it [Mazepin's reaction] is unacceptable and he needs to learn from it."

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