Nikita Mazepin’s first season in Formula 1 may by the end of the year go down as one of the most controversial in Formula 1 history, after the Uralkali Haas F1 Team rookie angered yet another driver at last weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.
Mazepin may well be gaining supporters off the track but on it he certainly isn’t, it’s been a rarity this season for Mazepin to make it through a race weekend without angering an opponent. Sunday’s race at the Sochi Autodrom wasn’t one of these rarities unfortunately, as Yuki Tsunoda had some very strong words for his fellow rookie.
The Russian’s reputation in the paddock isn’t exactly brilliant, the rookie was known to have an aggressive racing style based on his junior career but for the majority of the season he’s managed to stay out of people’s way. The biggest fallout with another driver this season for Mazepin came with his very own team-mate, fellow rookie Mick Schumacher who has completely out-shone Mazepin this season.
Schumacher vented his anger to the team during the Azerbaijan and Dutch Grand Prix’s, after being unhappy with his team-mate’s sudden aggressive blocking whilst attempting to overtake. A very similar incident occurred during the incredible Russian Grand Prix, resulting in Mazepin being awarded a black-and-white flag.
Tsunoda whom had his DRS wide open, tried to overtake the Russian going through Turn 12, Mazepin however suddenly cut across Tsunoda far too late. The Race spoke to FIA Formula One Director Michael Masi who explained why the black-and-white flag was shown to the Russian rookie.
“Going through Turn 12, it was just the move that he came across so late with Yuki [Tsunoda], who was overtaking with DRS – it’s one of those things that we’ve said a few times that we’ve issued black-and-whites for before, that it’s unsportsmanlike conduct and not something that we would tolerate.”
Based on all the incidents that Mazepin has been involved in and has caused, you would think he’s arguably had the most trips to the race stewards this season, Masi doesn’t agree.
“He’s probably had a few stewards’ visits, but I think if you went through and had a look at it all there are probably other drivers that are up there, or have had more. “We look at and investigate each incident on its own merits. If it is worth investigating obviously the stewards will investigate it, and they have a look at it based on the evidence that is before them, and then deem if a penalty is or isn’t necessary.”
Mazepin isn’t new to controversy, he was at the front of a lot of drama in Formula 2 as well for his aggressive driving. It has left people to question whether his driving style is fit for Formula 1, Masi believes that every single drivers style is different, and that Mazepin isn’t a concern.
“Someone’s particularly driving style? I would suggest we have got 20 different driving styles, subtly, out there. I wouldn’t suggest there is anything untoward or a concern.“