Nikita Mazepin thinks the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ in F1 qualifying is not working after his latest misdemeanour at the Spanish Grand Prix.
In every qualifying session this year, the Haas rookie has found himself involved in controversy – and at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona it resulted in a penalty.
Most of Mazepin’s Q1 incidents have related to the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between drivers which states cars should not overtake before the final corner preceding a flying lap.
This time, the Moscow-born driver was passed by Yuki Tsunoda and Kimi Raikkonen as they headed into the pits. Mazepin then got in the way of Lando Norris, who was coming up behind on a flying lap, and the stewards found he had impeded the Briton by pulling out and re-passing Tsunoda and Raikkonen instead of waiting for the McLaren to overtake him.
Norris said the situation “cost me qualy today” because the wasted run meant he had to go again and use a set of tyres he had wanted to save for later in the session.
Mazepin received a three-place grid drop – but had qualified last in any case – plus one penalty point on his superlicence, having also incurred one for not observing blue flags in last week’s Portuguese Grand Prix.
However, Mazepin insisted he had been trying to respect the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ – which he thinks needs reviewing.
“If I’m not mistaken, somebody asked about the gentlemen’s agreement into the last corner in Bahrain,” said Mazepin, quoted by RaceFans. “I think that was a very prime example of that not working in Formula 1.
“I was really trying to obey it, as I was ever since I took note of it. It’s very difficult when two cars overtake you going into a last corner which is very slow and tight, where a length of a car, which is five-and-a-half metres, you just can’t put a third car there and especially if the fourth car is arriving at full speed.
“So I didn’t feel boxing up behind was an option because that would have left my rear end on the racing line. The only option was to go, which I did. Unfortunately, it’s just all these things coming together.
“I’m not upset about it because there’s really not much I could have done apart from disappear, which unfortunately I’m not able to do.”
"We just need to keep on bettering ourselves and climb forward – it’s an on-going learning curve. Everybody is putting a lot of effort into it.”
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) May 8, 2021
While Mazepin had another day to forget, his team-mate Mick Schumacher put one over on Nicholas Latifi for the second weekend running having overtaken and beaten the Williams driver during the race in Portugal.
Schumacher outqualified Latifi and will start 18th in Barcelona.
“We’re really happy,” said the German. “I think we obviously managed to put the car where we wanted to.
“We did a big change from Friday to today and I think it was definitely the right one to do. I feel the team and I have taken all the right steps afterwards to put the car where we are now.
“But I think it’s going to be tough. We’re looking at a bit of rear deg in the race, I think everybody is, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Let’s treat the tyres like a baby, I would say.”