Steiner fine with Mazepin superlicence gamble

Date published: December 4 2020

Nikita-Mazepin-PA

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner is happy to take a risk on Nikita Mazepin with the Russian driver’s superlicence not yet secure.

Haas have confirmed an all-rookie line-up for 2021, consisting of current F2 Championship leader Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

Only a disastrous final round would see Schumacher finish any lower than P2 in the standings, so under the relaxed rules to qualify for a superlicence, his is safe since he will finish the season in the top seven in the standings.

Going into the final round Mazepin is P3, but if he had a couple of nightmare races then he could fall as low as P8, meaning he would not qualify for the superlicence.

That said, the gap to Guanyu Zhou in P8 is 36.5 points with two races to go, so a swing of that magnitude is unlikely, meaning Steiner is willing to take the risk.

“Obviously we spoke with the FIA when we started the conversations about it, how this would work,” said Steiner when asked by Motorsport.com.

“I don’t think we have got this problem anymore. There is still a mathematical possibility that he doesn’t get one, but it’s slim. I think I’ll take that risk. I’ve taken bigger risks than that one.

“So in the end I think we get one. But we played around a few scenarios, what could be done, what should be done, but I think it’s difficult. The best is always to get it by the points.

“Again, I cannot say it will happen. But I am a big believer that he will get the points he needs to get the superlicence. So I’m not going to go into what did the FIA say because we never came to a conclusion, because it’s always let’s try to do it on points.

“And that’s what we’re doing. He did it himself. Again, that shows he didn’t get nervous or anything about it. He went out there last weekend and was told he needed to get points so you secure your own superlicence, without asking any help.”

Nikita Mazepin

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Mazepin said he feels “ready for F1″ and is fully set on taking that step with Haas.

“I feel ready for F1, I’m 21 years old. I had quite a few seasons in single-seaters now. And I believe that faster cars do suit my driving style,” he said.

“And regarding the F2 championship, I think it’s been quite a challenging year. When I went to race with Hitech Grand Prix, they hadn’t existed in F2 previously.

“So although it’s only 12 people, everybody needed to blend in with each other. And it was a big task, but I think the team’s handled it fantastically.

“And for us to be able to do reasonably fast pit stops, make less mistakes than some teams do with starting set-ups etcetera, I think it’s an achievement. It’s worth noticing, and especially given a few penalties I’ve had this year – that perhaps I haven’t agreed with – I think the overall championship table’s looking promising.”

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