For the Uralkali Haas F1 Team the Azerbaijan Grand Prix saw both drivers cross the finish line for their best finish yet so far this season, Mick Schumacher crossed the line in thirteenth with team-mate Nikita Mazepin in fourteenth.
Despite battling outside the points during the most hectic race of the season, both Haas drivers managed to finish above both Williams Racing cars as well as Lewis Hamilton, something they probably didn’t think they would be saying before the season got underway. The team see themselves rise to ninth in the constructors championship dropping Williams to the foot of the constructors table.
For Schumacher it was an uneventful race, right up until the red flag on lap forty-nine brought out to recover the crashed Red Bull Racing of Max Verstappen. The following two lap sprint race saw Schumacher go wheel to wheel with his team-mate, eventually crossing the line a miniscule 0.074s ahead of Mazepin.
A new personal best finish for Schumacher albeit outside the points, does show hopes of improvement for the Haas team, something he is hopeful for.
“I think it was difficult for everyone,” said Schumacher. “Tyre degradation seemed higher out there than we expected. We came in for an extra pit stop to go on the C5 and it felt good but then the session was red flagged.
“It was definitely not easy but we were close to the points and these are the kind of races that we have to use to our advantage and stay in the race. We managed to do that, we were fighting and you see a little light at the end of the tunnel.”
“Our finishing position is a nice number for the team” – Mazepin
Despite slipping behind his team-mate at the dying breath, fourteenth was also a personal best finish for the young Russian driver who was managing a brake issue throughout the race.
Mazepin is frustrated to have lost the place to Schumacher so close to the end of the race but like Schumacher, recognises the importance of both cars result to the team.
“Well, the race itself was not bad,” said Mazepin. “It was a bit annoying those as certain things made us fall backwards – but pace was there. We were experimenting with something as I had to manage the brakes from the beginning because they were overheating. I had to change my brake bias, and because of the change I was prone to locking. I almost drove into a wall which cost me a lot of time.
“The race was stop-start and then it came to life again. The main thing is I’m just a little bit upset about losing my position to my team-mate on the main straight. It is what it is, but I think our finishing position is a nice number for the team, but obviously some unexpected situations happened with the other drivers which enabled us to get that position. Overall, it’s quite positive.”