‘Mazepin has to learn car isn’t as good as Mercedes’

Henry Valantine
Nikita Mazepin, Haas

Nikita Mazepin, Haas

Guenther Steiner says that Nikita Mazepin is “trying a little bit too hard” in his Haas car, as the Russian recorded two more spins in FP1 at Imola on Friday.

The young Russian was previously able to experience privately testing in a Mercedes, which Haas team principal Steiner believes Mazepin needs to take into account while driving his more difficult back-marking car.

After a tricky opening weekend in Bahrain that saw practice struggles followed by a first-lap retirement, Mazepin had said he was ‘totally over’ his disappointing debut, before his further troubles on Friday morning.

Steiner hopes Mazepin will be able to learn from these experiences quickly to settle into the season in earnest.

“At some stage, [the spins] need to be reduced, but he’s trying very hard for that – and I guess he’s trying sometimes a little bit too hard,” Steiner told reporters in the FIA team principals’ press conference, as quoted by Motorsport.com.

“He needs to find that limit. But that’s for him to find, not us. We can help him in doing that, but it’s one of these things that I’ve said before: learning is painful.

“It comes with pain, but at some stage that will hopefully stop and he will be in a good place.

“Obviously, we’re not planning to spin the car, but on the other side it’s part of the learning. So I don’t want to put a number or time on anything of this. This will sort itself out in my opinion.

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Mazepin has had a tough start to life in Formula 1 after stepping up from Formula 2, but Steiner believes his driver needs time to adjust to his new surroundings, while accepting the performance of their VF-21 is unlikely to mean they are knocking on the door of the podium places any time soon.

“I think we jump to a conclusion too early,” Steiner explained. “We are in our second FP1 this season, so to judge somebody on this, it’s a little bit early. But for sure in Bahrain he had a few spins.

“Maybe F2 to F1 is still a difficult step, but Bahrain was very difficult conditions as well. And him driving the Mercedes last year? I think he learned something.

“But also he has to learn our car is not as good as a Mercedes. I mean, I’m very open about that one. I’m not trying to hide that. For sure the Mercedes is a little bit less temperamental than our car.

“But again, I just can repeat, we are here and we have got the whole year to learn. Hopefully we haven’t got the whole year to spin, but we are here [to learn]. That is what we are trying to do this year.”

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