Haas rookie Nikita Mazepin says his first Monaco GP in F1 was “very intense” and required more concentration than in any other race he’s experienced in his career.
Since the start of his maiden campaign in F1, Mazepin has struggled to put together a clean weekend, with frequent mistakes and his inconsistency weighing on his performance and results.
On the other side of the Haas garage, fellow rookie Mick Schumacher has acquitted himself well, suffering few errors and extracting the most from his equipment.
But in Monte Carlo, Mazepin had the upper hand over the German, outpacing Schumacher in free practice and in qualifying as the Russian finally put together a string of trouble-free sessions.
From P19 on the grid, Mazepin lost a position on the opening lap when Schumacher overtook him at the hairpin. The pair steered clear of trouble for the remainder of the afternoon, but as the race wore on, the display of blue flags intensified, and so did Mazepin’s focus.
“The race is very intense,” Mazepin said at the end of a day he finished P17, just ahead of his teammate who was forced to wave the Russian through later in the race following a fuel pressure issue.
“Ever since I started racing single-seaters I didn’t have so much required concentration, because on this track – even though we’re one of the slowest or the slowest team – everything flies by so much.
“There was a moment when I was going through Turn 14 and I just felt like I touched the wall and that’s where Charles [Leclerc] went off. So there was really no margin for mistakes.
“The car was quite difficult to drive very fast out there, but we’ve made good progress within my internal team in Haas from Barcelona onwards and I would say that it’s a very positive picture.”
Mazepin said that some productive work conducted with Haas between Barcelona and Monaco had largely contributed to his clean weekend in the Principality.
“I’m very fortunate that I was able to spend some good analytical time post-Barcelona with my team because with the package that we had in Barcelona I think going into [Monaco] would have been a disaster,” he explained.
“So we did the necessary changes and it’s looking much better now.”
The 22-year-old admitted that his wheel-to-wheel duel with his teammate at the hairpin at the start of the race was a “very tight” affair, and one that was worth risking an embarrassing inner-team clash.
“It was one of those corners where it’s even too slow for F1, you need to pull the clutch in, so you don’t drive into a car in front,” he said.
“And I just got bunched up, and I had to stay where I was. And I felt that if you’re fighting for P19 or for P18, and there was a big risk of leaving both cars for the rest of the race there, and I just didn’t want to go to the garage and being responsible for it.
“So I wanted to race fair, and the race was long.”
“I was very fair in the first lap,” he added. “He [Schumacher] was very fair later on. And I think we have a good relationship in the team, and we should keep it that way.”
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