Nikita Mazepin says he is surprised by the “standard of behaviour” in F1 following his Imola disagreement with Antonio Giovinazzi.
Some might say it is rich for Mazepin to be commenting on behaviour given the way he began his Haas career, publicly rebuked by the team within days of joining for posting a social media video they described as “abhorrent”.
Controversy continues to follow the Moscow-born driver and the latest incident came during qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix when he upset Giovinazzi by overtaking the Alfa Romeo as they began their final flying laps in Q1.
Giovinazzi thought it had cost him the chance to progress to Q2 and said Mazepin “didn’t respect” him, having broken a gentleman’s agreement not to pass other cars in such circumstances.
A similar scenario had also occurred at the season-opener in Bahrain where Mazepin again jumped the queue as the clock ticked down – and promptly spun at Turn 1, bringing out the yellow flags just to annoy his rivals some more.
In response to Giovinazzi’s reaction at Imola, Mazepin told Russian outlet Match: “Over the past two weekends, this standard of behaviour has surprised me.
“Each of us has a team, the instructions of which we follow. In both cases I followed the instructions, but there are some unspoken rules.
“Yes, I am still learning. But in the end, I crossed the finish line two seconds before the end of the qualifying segment. If I had stayed behind him, I would not have had time for another lap. It’s unpleasant for me that it happened, but here it’s every man for himself.”
At least, even though the Imola race was affected by rain, Mazepin managed to keep his car running to the end, albeit two laps down, having spun out at Turn 3 in Bahrain just seconds into his F1 race debut.
And the 22-year-old feels he is getting on well with Haas team principal Guenther Steiner and also his team-mate, Mick Schumacher.
“We have an excellent relationship,” he said of Steiner. “This is a great experience for me, I have never worked so much with a team leader. I’m learning a lot in terms of teamwork.
“I have a good working relationship with Mick. We are in the same situation, we are just starting a career here and we are the same age.
“We had quite a long discussion after practice at Imola in terms of car control. But I clearly understand everyone has their own opinion. We always have something to discuss.”