Nikita Mazepin has insisted his manoeuvre that angered team-mate Mick Schumacher in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was just “a misunderstanding”.
On the run to the chequered flag in Baku, Schumacher overtook his Haas colleague for 13th place as the two rookies both achieved their highest finishing positions in Formula 1.
But as he did so, the German found himself squeezed up towards the right-hand wall of the long pits straight as Mazepin jinked across in a defensive move.
Schumacher immediately gestured at his team-mate and got on the team radio, saying “What the f*** was that, honestly? Seriously, does he want to kill us?”
Team principal Guenther Steiner acknowledged the incident and said after the race that it was “all resolved and we’ve cleared the air – there was some misunderstanding”.
Now Mazepin has followed up on that assessment and described what happened from his perspective, saying he had expected the reigning Formula 2 champion to try and pass him on the left as opposed to the right – and that he had not intended “to scare anyone”.
“In Baku, I had a misunderstanding based on my experience and my expectations of Mick’s actions,” said the Moscow-born driver, quoted by sports.ru.
“Usually, when overtaking an opponent, drivers choose an internal trajectory – it’s the most profitable when braking.
“Of course, I started late in the blocking manoeuvre, but that’s what everyone does. And I had no idea Mick would want to stay on the outside trajectory.
“When I saw him in the mirrors, I immediately returned to the old trajectory because if I continued the manoeuvre, we would probably collide.
“The moment was just a misunderstanding. I thought Mick would go left, on the inside – as with any overtaking during a grand prix, if you saw it, everyone was doing it. He went to the right.
“Probably [being] the last lap played a role and I wasn’t expecting it. But for sure, I didn’t intend to scare anyone.”
Not that frightening an F1 opponent is likely anyway, according to Mazepin.
“In Formula 1, everyone is a high-class racer, you can’t scare anyone,” added the 22-year-old.
“In such an attempt, drivers usually don’t drop the gas, either they overtake their rival anyway or an accident happens and someone gets penalised – nothing good comes of it.”