Haas F1 rookie Nikita Mazepin has explained why he broke the “gentleman’s agreement” between all drivers in qualifying for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Speaking after qualifying P20 for his debut F1 grand prix, Mazepin said that the team told him to overtake drivers towards the end of the outlap ahead of his final flying lap because time on the clock was running out.
“I am [the] team’s driver. We have radio intercom, and I am instructed to do what I’m told,” Mazepin said.
“I crossed the start-finish line with two seconds left under my belt, otherwise I would have got a red flag. There was no time to wait.
“I was obviously in the queue like everyone else, but I’ve been told that if I don’t go now, the session’s over. And what else do I have to do?
“I have to follow what the team tells me, because that’s my job. So I’m sorry if somebody is unhappy about it, but I follow my engineer’s advice,” he added.
Following the incident, Mazepin was criticised by a number of pundits, including ex-F1 racer Jolyon Palmer.
“Oh dear, oh no. So Mazepin has broken the ‘gentleman’s code’ of basically, wait your turn and everyone gets a lap,” Palmer said.
“He’s gone past all the Champions into the final corner and then he’s got down to that first corner and spun, causing them to not be able to go fast.
“Way to make yourself public enemy number one, on your debut!”
After overtaking a handful of drivers on his outlap, Mazepin subsequently spun his Haas on the entry into turn one just after he started his flying lap.
This brought out a yellow flag and compromised a few drivers’ final laps.
Mazepin revealed that his spin was caused by a technical issue, not a mistake on his part.
“I had an electronic issue called BBW failure towards the end, which we’re still looking into,” Mazepin explained.
“It’s basically like losing the front end of the brakes and it’s just you only have the rears.
“Essentially the brakes don’t work the same. It’s like pulling the handbrake going in to a corner so I turned around, unfortunately.”