Nikita Mazepin secured his third victory of the GP3 Series season at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday morning to close the gap on ART Grand Prix team-mate Callum Ilott to just seven points as the two battle for second place in the Championship standings, but the Russian driver was left wanting more after only finishing fifth in race one on Saturday.
Mazepin felt he deserved a better result in the Saturday race but after making a good start, he was pushed out wide at La Source, which saw him lose momentum and positions, and allowed drivers ahead of him to break away.
However, another good start on Sunday morning put him firmly into the mix for the victory, and when he took the lead early on from Joey Mawson, he was not to be headed again throughout the race.
“It was a really enjoyable race,” said Mazepin in the post-race press conference. “After a reasonably difficult race yesterday, I was slightly disappointed because I made a good start but was forced out wide. I could feel I had an opportunity, but it did not come my way.
“Today, the start was fine but after that I was always kind of like a second acting person if that makes sense? Something was happening, and I was gaining from that. It got me in the lead and therefore we had quite difficult conditions today compared to yesterday in terms of temperatures.
“It was hard to expect how the tyre would degrade. I was maintaining the gap to the cars behind. It went well.”
Mazepin eventually led a ART Grand Prix 1-2-3-4 finish ahead of Anthoine Hubert, Ilott and Jake Hughes, and the young Russian was thankful to the team for the ‘magnificent’ job they are doing this season.
“I was very happy with the car and once again we are very strong as a team,” said Mazepin. “They are doing a superb job. I want to thank them.
“They are doing a magnificent job.”
Mazepin, like the other nineteen drivers on the grid, have to immediately refocus with the race weekend at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza coming up this weekend, but he insists as every weekend is different, he does not put any real expectations onto himself, apart from doing the best job possible.
“I have a certain process that each driver in our team goes through before every race. I will do the same thing between here and Italy,” said Mazepin. “I will take it from free practice to qualifying and then to the races. Hopefully, I will be on the podium again.
“I don’t really come into weekends expecting something because every weekend is different. Let’s see where we can end up. I will do my best as always. That’s my job.”