After a disappointing Grand Prix debut, Nikita Mazepin will be looking to bounce back at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix which returns to the calendar for the second time on a more permanent basis. The Uralkali Haas F1 Team are focusing all of their efforts on 2022, so it is not likely that either car will score points however, if the race is a chaotic one the American team will be hoping that their two rookie drivers can capitalise on any mistakes made by others.
After a Grand Prix debut which lasted less than a lap Mazepin feels that the schedule is far more demanding than he initially realised with events both on and off track filling up most of the weekend. The Russian driver feels that it is imperative to keep concentration levels high even on a demanding day and learn to manage the schedule.
“I feel like the biggest thing to get used to is learning the schedule, and the weekend is much more intense with all that’s going on and the sessions on-track. It’s about keeping concentration and learning the schedule – that’s the biggest thing.”
Perhaps unusually for a Formula 1 Calendar, there was no gap between testing and the first Grand Prix, that gap instead coming after the race at Bahrain and Mazepin has used this time to reflect on is first Grand Prix weekend – what he did well and what could’ve gone better etc. With such a busy schedule ahead having a break like it is important to get some much needed rest.
“For me personally it was very important to use these two weeks to go away and reflect back on the weekend to see the things I need to improve – and obviously there’s a lot of things being a rookie. Also, it was very nice to go back home and see my family. Knowing there’s a very busy schedule ahead during the year, these two weeks were very important.”
Mazepin has had previous racing experience at Imola – taking part in a Formula 3 race in 2016. The Russian rookie enjoys racing at the ‘older style’ circuits which is always tinged with a little bit of sadness with memories of Ayrton Senna. Obviously there are big differences between a Formula 3 car and a Formula 1 car, but Mazepin is really looking forward to going back to the circuit.
“I raced at Imola back in Formula 3 in 2016. It’s a very old school circuit and it was very special to race there with the memories of Ayrton Senna. Going into Formula 1 there’s obviously going to be a lot of changes but I’m looking forward to being out there again.”
Having not been at the circuit for five years, it has been important to get plenty of hours in the simulator and there will be a huge emphasis on a successful qualifying performance. Mazepin knows that he will have to be on his ‘A Game’ from minute one of the weekend and that will be key to having a good weekend.
“Some simulator driving has been very important as I haven’t raced at the circuit in five years. It’s a circuit where the qualifying lap is very important because there are very little overtaking opportunities. So, getting that one push – that good qualifying lap, it’s key. Being on it from the first minute, that’s the key factor for the race weekend.”
“It’s amazing to drive a Formula 1 car, so to do that on a super cool track will be even more special” – Mick Schumacher
Mick Schumacher had a relatively successful first Grand Prix, making up three positions in what is a underdeveloped Haas car albeit finishing last on the track and occurring a non-race ending spin at the same turn as his Russian team-mate.
Schumacher learnt a lot from the first weekend, it is always very different talking about what you want to do on the weekend and actually putting that into place. The German driver was able to experience the loss of downforce at the start of the race – the dirty air caused by the cars ahead causing the cars to only maintain a fifth of the amount of downforce that they would usually have.
“I think in general I’ve learned a ton of new things, and we’ve seen that come through in all the meetings we’ve had. It’s always different talking about it and feeling it. There are a lot of things I learned about the tires, that’s probably the biggest new thing to me. Also, on things like how much downforce we lose at the start of the race. It’s like going from 100 percent downforce to 20 percent downforce the moment you’re turning into a corner.”
Schumacher can take what he learned from his first weekend and use this going into the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, feeling more confident in the car. The German felt that the weekend flew by and there was so much learning to squeeze into such a little amount of time.
“There was definitely lots learned and lots to look at before heading to Imola. I feel I have a lot more knowledge, a lot more comfort, but I was also really surprised at how quickly the weekend was over. It all happened in the blink of an eye – it was a case of little time and lots to learn, let’s put it like that.”
The team has held some meetings about the Bahrain Grand Prix and the up and coming race at Imola and over the break Schumacher has used this time to prepare for the race both physically and mentally allowing him to be 100 percent focused on the next race.
“We had a few team meetings after the weekend as usual, obviously to put a point on what we learned, trying to put it all together ahead of Imola. I’ve been preparing myself physically, while doing a bit of recovery too. I’ve really just been focused 100 percent on going to Imola.”
Mick Schumacher has fond memories of racing at Imola, racing in Formula 4 and doing a few tests in Formula 3. All of these experiences have been positive, the German remembering seeing an abundance of peacocks once on a track walk which was a surprise!
“I only have good memories there to be honest. I’ve raced at Imola in F4 and done a few tests in F3. Honestly, all of the experiences I’ve had there are great. We had a track walk there once and saw five peacocks, which was a new one for me.”
The track is fantastic to drive but overtaking is difficult due to the nature of the older style circuits. It is a circuit which once you are in the flow is great to drive but if you get off line it is very easy to lose time. Schumacher can’t wait to drive considering all of this in a Formula 1 weekend.
“The track is amazing to drive. Racing-wise it can be quite difficult, with very few places to overtake. Once you’re in a flow and set a nice lap it’s amazing, especially how one corner follows after another. There are quick corners, technical corners, the kerbs that you have to ride. There’s definitely lots to look forward to in a Formula 1 car.”
To maximise a lap at Imola, it is imperative to get wide on the kerbs especially at the chicane, there are also some long corners followed by straights – especially the run down to the Tamburello Chicane which is one of the main overtaking oppurtunites on the circuit.
“Obviously, Imola is known for a lot of kerb riding. You have the two corners up in the chicane where you have to take a lot of kerb. We have some long corners which follow into long straights. Everything’s basically very twisted. In all the junior categories that I’ve raced there, it was always very fun, and a track I enjoyed driving.”
Schumacher believes that in a Formula 1 car, driving the circuit will be just that bit better, the young German driver has been using some of the notes he made when he raced there when he was younger and data recorded by the team when they visited the circuit in 2020.
“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a lot better in a Formula 1 car. It’s amazing to drive a Formula 1 car, so to do that on a super cool track will be even more special. I’m definitely looking forward to it. Regarding preparation, I’ve been speaking through it all with the team and going through the notes I made there when I was young.”