Nikita Mazepin must feel some days like he can’t catch a break, the Haas driver reprimanded in Mexico only for the rule he broke to be scrapped.
Mazepin was reprimanded by the stewards after going off during Friday’s second practice at Turn 8/9 and failing to join the track as laid out in the pre-race notes.
The stewards’ notes read: “Car nine [Mazepin] left the track on the right hand-side at the apex of turn nine, passing completely behind the red and white kerb, and rejoined the track immediately, rather than rejoining by driving wholly to the right of the two bollards parallel to the track on the exit of turn eight.
“Whilst noting the driver’s comments in relation to the loss of control on the painted surface, the stewards also note that the driver made very limited efforts to reduce speed and therefore consider this to be a failure to follow the race director’s instruction given in article 21.3 (a) of the race director’s event notes.”
Mazepin defended his actions, saying it was impossible for him to make the bollard.
“In my case, I was on opposite lock, 240kph, so it wasn’t a fact of not being willing to obey the rules it was a fact of not being able to follow the direction because my steering was off and I was not in control of my car,” he said as per The Race.
The Russian driver was probably left shaking his head late Friday evening when he heard that the Turn 8/9 rule had been scrapped for the remainder of the weekend, deleted from the race notes.
Mazepin was in lofty company when it came to reprimands on Friday, joined by World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen.
They both went off at Turn 1 and failed to go around a bollard to the left of the run-off as they rejoined.
F1 race director Michael Masi has subsequently updated his race notes, informing the drivers that “a lap time achieved during any practice session or the race by leaving the track and failing to negotiate Turns 1,2,3 by using the track as detailed above will result in that lap time being invalidated by the stewards.”
He added that the drivers are “reminded of the provisions of Article 27.3 of the Sporting Regulations” which states that all ‘drivers must make every reasonable effort to use the track at all times and may not leave the track without a justifiable reason’.
It was yet another tricky start to a race weekend for Mazepin, the Russian rookie P19 in Friday’s second practice, the slowest driver to set a time.
He was 4.280s down on Max Verstappen’s P1 time, although Mazepin’s best was set on the medium tyres, not the faster soft rubber.
“It’s been tricky out there,” he said on Friday evening.
“It felt a little bit like a street circuit during FP1, with so much dust and my helmet was covered in it – I think I went through over 10 tear-offs which I’ve never done this season before.
“Apart from that, I’m getting to know Mexico – it’s a very low downforce circuit and we’re using our maximum downforce, which isn’t enough here.
“We knew what we were going into – I’ve watched a lot of onboards and listened to what the engineers have been told by other drivers.
“It’s what we expected but we still need to improve the balance and we’ll go from there tomorrow.”