Nikita Mazepin doesn’t see the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ prevailing despite talks with FIA Race Director and the F1 drivers on the topic.
Haas’ Mazepin endured a tough rookie season. From day one, it was an arduous time for him and rookie teammate Mick Schumacher. On occasion, he was criticised by his fellow competitors for being too slow, being in the way and he was also prone to errors.
In qualifying, Mazepin never reached Q2 unlike teammate Schumacher who made it twice. At times, he may have felt a little out of his depth, particularly at the start of 2021, fresh out of F2 and some habits died hard insofar as his actions were F2esque.
At several races, Mazepin was one of several cars literally stopped at the last corner waiting for a gap to appear so as to get in a flying lap in qualifying but this is a no-no in F1 – pertaining to the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ among the drivers.
He faced a lot of criticism and a lot of do’s and dont’s, but when similar thing happened with other drivers, it was taken as a collective failure than one’s fault. With the issue continuing on until the end of the year, Mazepin took the discussion with FIA Race Director Michael Masi to understand the matter better.
“The idea of the meet was not criticism but an opportunity for me to speak to the stewards and see their opinion,” said Mazepin to media including FormulaRapida.net. “I was very concerned about my actions back in Bahrain where I did a very similar thing as I would in F2 which would be taken without any criticism.
“I overtook some cars that were going slow into the last corner because I felt like I needed to go and I have been harshly told that this is not acceptable and is not what you do in F1. Interestingly, 20 races later, drivers who have been here over 10 years most of them actually, overtook me.
“I think it was a pack of 4 or 5 cars into the last corner about 150 metres before starting the lap in Saudi Arabia. The rules are the same for everyone and I am new in this sport, so I’ll play along with what others are doing but what I think is unacceptable is critiquing the young generation and then later on as the year goes on really changing the approach slightly.
“I need to learn and I need to analyse because when it happens, it is very disappointing. Like in Saudi Arabia, I’ve been overtaken by Vettel, started the lap behind him and Max and him both braked on a straight and I had to brake as well. If you lose 1.5 seconds going into Turn 1, there is no point to continue at the pace we’re going,” summed up Mazepin.
A very good analysis on his part, in fairness he learnt a lot during the season. Judging by his statements above he recalled a lot too and possibly felt hard done by at times judging by what he says as the season went by. However, his decision to seek out Masi directly could be deemed bold or brash but it also proved he wanted to get the situation and scenario sorted.
It’s very admirable that Mazepin wanted a meeting as he genuinely appears to be wanting to get things sorted on the driving front and drive with the minimal amount of fuss. The meeting itself was a lengthy discussion, but not everything went according to plan.
“We had a meeting, Michael is a very nice open guy to work with so that was great,” said Mazepin. “I wanted to see him in regards to gentlemen’s agreement but obviously that’s not something he’s in charge of, so he just said talk to the drivers.
“I had a talk with the drivers and I don’t think the agreement is… I think everybody said that it’s not happening any more so, no more gentlemen’s. From what I understood I can see the headline already, I think everybody in their own world like F2 and F3,” summed up Mazepin.
It sounds like that F1 drivers are in their own little world. Masi advised him to talk to his fellow drivers regarding gentleman’s agreements. Possibly not as easy as it sounds as he is still one of the least experienced despite entering his second season and from a respect viewpoint how would he be received. But the topic in itself is not an easy one as every driver react differently when they are in that position.
The story was written by Neil Farell
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