FIA Race Director Michael Masi explains the need for black and white flag for Nikita Mazepin in F1 Russian GP, but no alarm yet for his driving style.

Amidst the chaos of rain, the battle between Haas’ Mazepin and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda was missed in F1 Russian GP. A video surfaced on social media showcasing the Russian putting on a late defence against the Japanese when the latter tried a move.

Tsunoda went on the outside at a right-hander, but Mazepin cut him off wherein the Japanese had to pull out. It was a late move which irked the AlphaTauri driver. He eventually got through him, but the Russian was shown a black and white flag by then.

“It was going through Turn 12,” said FIA Race Director, Masi, to written media. “It was just the move that he came across so late on Yuki who was overtaking with DRS. It’s one of those things that we’ve said a few times and we’ve issued black and whites for before, it’s unsportsmanlike conduct, and not something we’re going to tolerate.”

The late defensive moves from Mazepin has come under scanner for some time now, not just in F1 but also in junior categories. Teammate Mick Schumacher faced it at Zandvoort, but that was not looked at by the FIA stewards then.y

Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, who spent a lot of laps behind Mazepin at Sochi, put it down to the Russian’s driving style being like that. The Canadian didn’t feel the need to get on the radio to complain, but agreed that the late moves is not the best-case scenario.

“To be honest, I am not sure of that [black and white flag],” said Latifi to written media. “He was always moving very late, nothing that was worth me coming on the radio. But that’s kind of Nikita’s style, the way he drives. It didn’t seem like anything over the limit for me.

“But he does always leave it until the last minute which is not the best, but that’s how he is,” summed up Latifi. Amid the growing debate of late moves, the FIA doesn’t see it as anything untoward or of big concern just yet. Since it is taken as a driving style, Masi is of the view that the grid has different styles all across and they cannot pin point on one.

“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,” said Masi. “I wouldn’t suggest there is anything untoward or a concern. 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. We judge incidents based on what occurs. Someone’s particularly driving style? I would suggest we have got 20 different driving styles, subtly, out there.”

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