Nikita Mazepin continued his disastrous start to his debut season, finishing P19 at the Portuguese Grand Prix. Worse, he was handed a five-second penalty for ignoring the blue flags in the race when Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was lapping him.
Checo was angry at the incident, and let Mazepin have it on the team radio. The Haas driver apologized to Perez after the race.
Haas F1 boss Guenther Steiner asserted that taking criticism is an integral part of racing, and that Mazepin will simply have to learn to put up with it.
“I think doing this is a bit remarkable, but at the end of the day there is also a world of fun in the races, which is part of the races,” he said.
“Also, I don’t think these affect Mazepin. I wouldn’t like it if people said this about me. However, if these affect you, you should not do this job. If you’re that emotional, maybe you should do something else.”
But Steiner also suggested the blue flags were shown a bit late, and that Mazepin did not intend to ignore them. He said, “It was not an intentional move and there was no bad result. It just didn’t look very good.”
He promised that in the future, Haas will communicate better to avoid silly penalties of the nature Mazepin received. Speaking of Mazepin, the penalty didn’t affect him, because Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen had already retired, leaving him at P19 when he was handed the penalty.
But his reputation took a hit, and the penalty did nothing to redeem the negative image he has with fans of the sport.
Nikita Mazepin’s F1 career may not have been as dreamy as he imagined, but he still has time to turn it around with some sharp performances.