Nikita Mazepin says he doesn’t immediately settle at a new team and, like wine, always gets better as time goes by.
He’s not worried though, saying that he had similar struggles when starting out in Formula 3 and Formula 2, and things that he’s handled such struggles better in F1.
The reason for that he feels, is because with a longer season he has had more time to recover.
“I used to not be able to restart my season in the middle,” he told motorsport-magazin.com.
“To be fair, it also has to be said that the seasons were much shorter. If you only have nine races, you have a lot fewer attempts. When you have 23 races you have a lot more tries. I am happy with the way it is going though.”
“Definitely! I’m like wine, I get better with age!” he added when asked if he always needs some time to find his feet.
“When I look at my career: If the car suits me and the setup is right, then I can be quick right away.
“But I need some time to get the car, the team and myself to function as a complete package until we can make the breakthrough.”
Nikita’s season in pictures 🖼️
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) December 27, 2021
As well as his struggles to match Schumacher, another downside of his rookie year was the fact that he was heavily criticised by a number of drivers for his wheel-to-wheel conduct.
He’s adamant that he doesn’t cross a line when defending his position though and is simply racing hard.
For me it’s like this in life: you have to look at the bottom line,” he said.
“The bottom line is that I avoid accidents. I don’t have many accidents on the track or retirements due to my own mistakes.
“And I defended the position. Ultimately, that’s what racing is all about. I already learned that in my karting days: even if I don’t have the speed, I won’t leave the door open. I try to fight.
“If the position is lost, then congratulations to the other. Then he did a very good job preparing the manoeuvre. But just because he is setting a better lap time doesn’t mean he can easily overtake. They are two completely different arts. One of the art is to drive fast. The other is to overtake.”