Nikita Mazepin has joked team-mate Mick Schumacher is his “closest friend” in F1, when he was asked about who he is closest with in the sport.
This answer came as something of a surprise, given how public their fallout has been in their rookie season together – having come together on track multiple times and spoken out against each other publicly as they compete in a race of two at the back of the field.
Mazepin also claimed he had a heavier car than Schumacher in the first half of the season, as an explanation of why he lagged behind his team-mate in the opening races, while the Russian also admitted that the rest of his time sharing a garage with the young German will not be a “smooth ride”.
However, that didn’t stop Mazepin from giving a tongue-in-cheek response in an interview.
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) October 15, 2021
When asked by Dutch TV channel Ziggo Sport in Turkey who his closest friend is in Formula 1, he said, quoted by grandpx.news: “Mick Schumacher.”
“You’re a liar!” Came the response from the Ziggo interviewer.
“Why am I a liar?” Mazepin said. “He’s the closest to me in the garage.
“He’s coming to visit me in Moscow on vacation. He wants to see the snow and the bears.”
With that, the Dutch broadcaster then cheekily put it to the Haas driver that he may have been saying that as an excuse to somehow leave his team-mate in a remote part of Siberia.
Mazepin laughed in response:“No, he really wants to see the bears and the snow.”
Mazepin and Schumacher are still yet to register a point in Formula 1 in a Haas which has been uncompetitive all year, but team principal Guenther Steiner said recently that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the team’s chances of moving back up the field heading into 2022.
They had opted not to develop their car for 2021 to fully focus on the full regulation change coming in Formula 1, with both rookies keeping their seats next year to try their hand at the new machinery.