In a rare turn of events, Nikita Mazepin said he needed to lose some stability from his Haas VF-21 on Friday at the Turkish GP.
Mazepin has found himself lapping at the back of the grid alongside team-mate Mick Schumacher for much of the season, with the VF-21 often looking like a real handful to drive.
But in what was his first experience of Istanbul Park, Mazepin said there was too much stability in his challenger, meaning he had to loosen up the VF-21 somewhat.
Asked by reporters for his thoughts after his opening ventures around the circuit, Mazepin said: “Very interesting because as a rookie going into one of the very few tracks in Europe that I haven’t driven on, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
“Obviously the feedback that I received from other drivers and what you could read on social media, is that it was incredibly difficult to drive.
“Ever since I got out there for the first lap I thought the grip was improved and was in-line with what Haas gives the driver throughout the year.
“The layout is quite special and it’s quite flowing so you need to get a rhythm, which I enjoyed and I think could make for a good race weekend.
“I believe that we haven’t started in the window with the setup.
“We anticipated a lot less grip and therefore we started with a too stable car which was one of the very few times this year where we struggled with rotation in the corners.
“So it took us time to wind it back, but it’s better to start too stable than too loose and there is plenty enough time to get it all back.”
Friday’s finished 🇹🇷🏁
The final #FP2 standings ⤵️
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) October 8, 2021
Mazepin would finish bottom of the FP2 standings, but while Schumacher was only one place better off, the German racer trailed Williams’ George Russell by only 0.122s.
That’s a margin far smaller than Haas are accustomed to, giving Schumacher encouragement heading into Saturday.
“I think the increase in grip was there, the car felt good today,” he said.
“I think we were a lot closer to the pack than usual which is very promising and I think that for tomorrow we have a good idea of what we want and what we need, hopefully we will get there.”
Asked for his first impressions of Istanbul Park in its physical form, Schumacher replied: “Definitely exciting, very flowing, it’s a very nice track.
“I got the chance to drive in the sim and it definitely lived up to what I drove there.”
There is a chance that we could have a wet qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix, and Schumacher is preparing a rain dance to make it happen.
“That would be great, I’m going to do the rain dance too,” he said with enthusiasm.
What do you do with the two Haas drivers?
Haas are retaining the same driver lineup for next season, but there definitely needs to be some team bonding retreats to work on their relationship.