Mazepin gives himself ‘maximum’ mark for debut year

Jamie Woodhouse
Nikita Mazepin smiling. Austin October 2021

Haas driver Nikita Mazepin smiling as he speaks with the media. Austin October 2021

Nikita Mazepin scored himself four out of five for his rookie F1 season, saying five would be excellence that cannot be quantified.

Mazepin arrived in Formula 1 as part of an all-rookie 2021 line-up for Haas, partnering reigning Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher who graduated alongside him from that series.

It was not an easy season for Mazepin, who initially was not on the same level as Schumacher before receiving a new chassis after the summer break which gave him a much-needed boost.

That was damaged though during practice for the Qatar Grand Prix, while Mazepin then missed the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi after testing positive for COVID.

Haas’ decision not to develop the VF-21 left both Mazepin and Schumacher battling at the back for most of the season, with Mazepin actually ending the season P21 in a 20-driver championship with P20 going to Robert Kubica who had contested two races for Alfa Romeo.

Mazepin though is proud of himself for pushing through all the challenges that came his way, and so scored himself the maximum mark to his mind – a four out of five.

Quoted by, he said: “I finished school four years ago and that’s the last time I was receiving marks and I don’t really miss it so much.

“I never think you should get a five because five is excellence (in Russia school marks are from 2 to 5) and I don’t know what excellence is. Today it might be excellent but tomorrow I realise I can do something more.

“So four is the maximum I can give myself. So I guess four for sticking through it, because the times were really tough this year at certain points.”

Mazepin did though highlight a weakness in his ability to adapt, and so knocked a mark off in that department as he chases further improvement.

“Probably a three for adaptation because that hasn’t been my strong point and I keep improving on it,” he said.


Looking back at his highs and lows of the season, Mazepin reflected negatively on his crash at the start of the first race in Bahrain, and also qualifying in Brazil where he lost his time for a track limits infringement at a point when he felt Q2 was on.

But on the flip side, the races in Britain, Brazil and Mexico were positives for the Russian racer.

“I used a few different cars this year, so certainly when I used the cars I have found difficult or heavy, it was the lower moments,” he said in reference to his chassis swaps.

“Then I also made some mistakes like in the Bahrain race and some other events where I didn’t feel like I performed well, or I tried too hard and then ultimately lost my lap time like in Brazil, where I believe we had a chance of outqualifying Williams or going into Q2.

“That was definitely the low moments, but the high moments are…many races. I had a good race at Silverstone, in Brazil and Mexico.”


Schumacher: Mazepin should go do something else

The words may be harsh but they do hold some truth.