Nicholas Latifi believes Nikita Mazepin is entitled to drive how he wishes, but either way does not think it crosses the line.
Mazepin was known as a driver who raced hard from his junior days, and since making the step up to Formula 1 with Haas in 2021 there have been flashes that this trait remains.
His team-mate Mick Schumacher has experienced it on several occasions this year, most notably at the Dutch Grand Prix where Schumacher accused Mazepin of trying to put him and other drivers in the wall.
The pair also collided at Monza, for which Mazepin collected a five-second time penalty.
It was then Yuki Tsunoda’s turn at Mazepin’s home race, the Russian Grand Prix, where Mazepin was shown the black and white flag for almost putting the AlphaTauri driver in the wall.
Latifi, though, feels Mazepin is entitled to stick to his driving style, even if it is not always good news for the other 19 racers.
“He was always moving very late, nothing that was worth me coming on the radio,” Latifi told The Race when asked about Mazepin’s defensive driving in Russia.
“But that’s kind of Nikita’s style, the way he drives.
“It didn’t seem like anything over the limit for me, but he does always leave it until the last minute which isn’t the best, but that’s how he is.”
Mazepin will remain at Haas for the 2022 campaign, with Schumacher also confirmed as part of an unchanged line-up for the team as Formula 1 heads into a new era with radically revised cars.
Before then, Mazepin has seven rounds remaining to avoid finishing on zero points for his debut campaign, with he and Schumacher the only drivers on the grid yet to get off the mark.
P14 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was Mazepin’s best result of the 2021 campaign so far.
Another weekend of struggles for Haas
With Mick DNFing and Nikita finishing P18, Haas had another poor weekend.