After watching his new recruit for 2021 pick-up two time penalties in Saturday’s FIA Formula 2 feature race at the Bahrain International Circuit, Guenther Steiner says the Haas F1 Team have their ‘work cut out’ to get Nikita Mazepin ready for his Formula 1 debut.
The first penalty was given after he forced eventual race winner Yuki Tsunoda off track as the Japanese racer attacked down the start/finish straight, while the second was also for his defensive driving, this time on the final lap as he defended from Felipe Drugovich.
Both penalties for Mazepin earned the Russian five-second penalties and relegated him from third on the road to ninth in the final classification.
The penalty points acquired from the two incidents moved him onto eleven for the year, just one shy of a potential ban. And Steiner, the Team Principal at Haas, says they will work with Mazepin during the off-season to ensure he arrives in Formula 1 knowing the limits on what can and cannot be done when defending on-track.
“I’ve seen the F2 race, he got the penalty,” said Steiner to RaceFans.net. “I think it’s part of learning and for sure we have got our work cut out, I guess, I think I’m right there.
“We need to learn from this and see that these mistakes are not done.”
One positive to come from the final weekend of the Formula 2 weekend was Mazepin securing the points needed for a Superlicence, which allows him to race in Formula 1 next year. The Russian needed to finish at least seventh in the standings, and he ultimately ended fifth.
“The good thing is he bought the Superlicence home today, which is an achievement done,” added Steiner. “But these things happen, as I know, these things happen when your brain goes away.
“When we signed him we knew that there was a little chance that he couldn’t make it. But in the end, you take some risks and you just say, we do it, and then if you don’t get there, we cross that bridge when we get there.
“I was very confident that he would get it done from his former experience. For sure, if [he] would have had an accident [and] he couldn’t drive for a few races, it would have been difficult.
“But otherwise, you look at the other drivers, where they are at and you just decide. But you take a little risk but then it worked our way, thanks God.”
Mazepin will be partnered by Mick Schumacher in 2021 in an all-new line-up after Haas opted to release both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean. Schumacher arrives as the 2020 FIA Formula 2 champion, following in the footsteps of Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Nyck de Vries.