Nikita Mazepin revealed Haas had tried to play a “trick” on their closest rivals in free practice for the Russian Grand Prix – but it did not work.
Haas are only able to target Williams and Alfa Romeo even on a good day this season due to the lack of competitiveness in their car, which has not been developed as they focus on hitting the ground running when the new F1 regulations are introduced next year.
With the prospect of dry-weather running on Saturday being minimal due to an ominous weather forecast, Mazepin revealed after FP2 that Haas had tried to hide their true pace to try and worry the teams just ahead of them by clocking some impressive times.
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“I think we as a team follow the same programme between the two cars, but our side had the upper hand on pace,” Mazepin told Formula 1.
“Considering we expect tomorrow’s sessions being delayed or cancelled even, we felt we needed to focus and maybe play a trick with the other teams in FP1 by using good engine modes and soft tyres.
“So we ditched off the high fuel and focused on low fuel to simulate qualifying and I think the result was still realistic, unfortunately.
“I was hoping to get maybe a few cars more, but nevertheless we did our best today and we still have to find a bit for tomorrow.”
In his rookie Formula 1 season, this is the first time Mazepin has driven at this level in front of a home crowd and after practice had taken place in glorious sunshine, he will be hoping for similar on Sunday even if the Saturday action falls victim to the predicted downpours.
“I love Sochi, I think Sochi loves me because when we arrived here yesterday, it was saying the weather was not going to be very good but there’s nothing like Sochi sun,” said Mazepin who, like Schumacher, has yet to score a point in his debut campaign.
“Let’s see what to expect tomorrow – I don’t think it will be quite the sunshine we’ve had today.”