Nikita Mazepin reckons that his improved pace and subsequent upturn in form can be credited to a chassis change, but Guenther Steiner is not certain before speaking with him.
Mazepin has taken is fair share of flak from media and fans alike, whether it’s for his pace, his on track antics or indeed his off track antics but what he has proved is that on his day, there is a solid driver in him. During the first half of 2021, the Russian was inconsistent with mistakes, off the pace of his teammate but every now and then matched or even bettered fellow rookie teammate Mick Schumacher, so showed promise.
But since Spa, Mazepin has found a groove and is consistently matching the pace of his teammate and ironing out mistakes. By the end of the first half, the Russian talked about having a heavy chassis, which was affecting his performances. But post summer break, the team had a new one made for him, and his performances improved a bit.
“I think our one lap pace has massively improved ever since said a drive from FP1 in Belgium and I think we all know what was the change FP1 in Belgium so yeah,” said Mazepin to media including FormulaRapida.net. “Good to know that I can trust my feelings and the good thing is the pace is here now and that we have a long season ahead of us still.
“So, I’m sure that it’s only going to get better because the confidence that I have lost in the beginning of the year when the car wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do.” Must be reassuring for a driver when their judgement is proved right, it will also give Mazepin a level of credibility within Haas that his initial feelings about the old chassis were indeed to blame for any lack of pace.
When FormulaRapida.net asked to clarify if the chassis change had improved his confidence he simply replied, “yeah it did”. Mazepin, albeit briefly, then explained what has changed for him. “It’s just very easy going into the old school physics, the more weight you have going with you in the corner, the more downforce you have to carry the same speed, and obviously we have only so much downforce that we use in this team and more weight you have in the corner, the more sliding you have, so the less weight from the car the more speed I can carry with whilst being in the same position as my teammate.”
So basically, it allows him to carry more speed through the corners as a result of the weight loss of a new chassis and help find extra pace. Mazepin now feels a lot more confident and upbeat heading into the closing stages of the 2021 season now. “You can speak all you want but I think I’m definitely taken an all of a sudden start in a better direction and to me it’s very clear,” he said.
“But nevertheless I’ve been fighting for equal position to be in for quite long and I’m very happy to be in it but as a rookie driver in Formula One you know fighting with superstars who been here for a long time and still needs improvement with lot of errors,” summed up Mazepin. Interestingly, team principal Steiner was puzzled when he first heard about this as he was none the wiser, as to the positive impact the chassis had on the Russian.
“I didn’t speak with him about that yet [during Italian GP weekend], what he said to you guys and I don’t know why he thinks it’s better, it’s not a simple yes or no answer,” said Steiner to media including FormulaRapida.net. There are specific reasons why a chassis would be better, not just a case of yes or no says the Italian, which makes sense.
Steiner did speak on and acknowledge the upturn in form and pace from the young Russian and is impressed with his progress. “I think so that it comes with learning, I think the more races he does the more he learns and you know a few good results for racing car drivers is always good for his confidence and he’s bringing it over,” said Steiner, when asked by FormulaRapida.net.
Especially during the sprint race on Saturday in Monza, Mazepin did a great job up against the fresh Robert Kubica as he gets to grips with an Alfa Romeo, that under normal circumstances with Kimi Raikonnen at the wheel would be a cut above the Haas. “He did he did a good job in the last races, especially at Monza, he did a good job to keep Robert behind when Robert was having a good time with the tyres in the right spot,” he said.
“He kept him behind and he even drove away. So it’s also about speed but his speed was always very consistent. It’s just like before he didn’t know what to do to make the car do what he wanted to do and now I think it’s just a little bit better that one.” Steiner agrees here that clearly the chassis change has really helped Mazepin to unlock some more of his potential that we all know is there.
Whatever one thinks of Mazepin, he’s in F1 for a reason and he’s beginning to prove why. He’s closing up to Schumacher now and if he can continue to do so then he puts himself in a really good position in the team going forward.
The story was written by Ollie Pattas
Here’s Nikita Mazepin being apologetic to Mick Schumacher after Monza