Haas F1 rookie Nikita Mazepin almost crashed into the back of the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi in the Saturday morning session of pre-season testing in Bahrain.
The incident took place just after the opening complex of corners and Mazepin lost the rear of the car after pulling out of the slipstream, but he managed to keep it pointing in the right direction.
Speaking after the session, Mazepin said the incident “was a bit of a worrying moment” and explained that he decided to stay very close to the car ahead to get a sense of what it is like to follow another car in Formula One.
“It’s a known topic that Formula 1 cars have a lot of downforce and do lose a lot of downforce following other cars,” Mazepin said.
“With such limited running and obviously a lot of cars being most likely in front of me at the start of the race in Bahrain, I wanted to experience the amount of downforce that I will lose.
“I did get to experience that. I almost crashed, to be honest, because the wind snap was huge. It was a bit of a worrying moment, but good to try.
“Antonio was on a lower fuel run, and was doing, you know, not consecutive laps, when I was going through the whole race distance, and my pace was slower. So he overtook me.
“I wanted to stay behind and learn my way through.”
Continuing, he said: “Currently, I think there’s a very big difference [in downforce lost], but it’s not a surprise to me.
“F2 does have a lot of downforce as well. It’s a heavier car. So there are small gains here and there. But it’s not the new thing to me, because races are more difficult.”
Mazepin will get more running time in the Haas VF-21 on the final day of pre-season testing on Sunday.
This will be his final opportunity to drive the car ahead of the season-opener at the same circuit later this month.
The Haas F1 Team has already stressed that 2021 will be primarily about building a competitive package for 2022 and giving their two rookie drivers – Mazepin and Mick Schumacher – a chance to get some experience in the pinnacle of motorsport under their belt.
However, despite the Haas VF-21 looking unlikely to be a competitive car and team principal Guenther Steiner downplaying the importance of this upcoming season, F1 fans will be keeping a close eye on Haas to see how Mazepin stacks up against Schumacher.
Mick, who’s the son of seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher, won the 2020 Formula Two Championship, while Mazepin finished fifth in the standings.