Another grand prix, another Nikita Mazepin controversy as, for the second race weekend running, he crossed swords with Nicholas Latifi.
It would not be a 2021 qualifying session without the Russian-born Haas driver being involved in an incident.
In Bahrain, he spun off and brought out the yellow flags at a critical moment of Q1, just as some of his rivals were starting their final flying laps.
At Imola, Mazepin was accused of breaking a gentleman’s agreement by Antonio Giovinazzi having overtaken the Alfa Romeo just before the chequered flag was waved.
Now the 22-year-old rookie has been labelled a “f*cking idiot” and a “dumbass” by Latifi, with whom Mazepin collided on the opening lap of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, putting the Williams out of the race.
On that occasion, it was not really Mazepin’s fault as Latifi had gone off in the wet and re-entered the circuit, appearing not to know exactly where the Haas was.
But in Q1 at Portimao, Latifi accused his rival of a deliberate block as an act of revenge after he had unintentionally impeded the Haas when the Canadian thought he should have received better information over the team radio about cars coming up behind him.
Unfortunately @NicholasLatifi’s qualifying comes to an end as he takes P18.
GR meanwhile back out on track for Q2. pic.twitter.com/RWOUCWoMyp
— Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) May 1, 2021
“I got blocked, of course,” Latifi then complained over the team radio, quoted by RaceFans. “What a dumb idiot. Like, I didn’t do it on purpose. This guy’s a dumbass.”
Latifi also said “this guy’s a f*cking idiot” before being told by his race engineer, Gaetan Jago, that they should discuss the matter back in the garage.
However, Mazepin denied he had enacted retaliation.
“I always care about my competitors,” he said. “I want to live in a world where everyone’s happy.
“Unfortunately, when there are only three places on the podium and one driver called the winner, there’s never going to be a happy 20. I would never do anything on purpose to mess somebody’s lap.”
Mazepin said he would review the footage of the incident, which the stewards did not investigate.
“I have to really watch the onboard, to be honest, because I’ve been told he’s three seconds away and from what I’ve seen, he wasn’t very close,” he said. “So I mean, whatever you call ‘blocking’ is a bit of a tough part.
“If you look how close I was to him in the last corner, I’m sure it was less than four tenths. So I will analyse and hopefully it won’t happen again. But I’m very sorry he’s upset.”