Nikita Mazepin insisted it had been “pretty impossible” to avoid the contact with his team-mate Mick Schumacher that sent him into a sprint qualifying spin.
The two Haas rookies have been involved in their fair share of incidents this season and another ensued at Silverstone as a new format was trialled for the British Grand Prix.
Having filled their familiar positions at the bottom of the timesheet in the traditional one-hour qualifying session, which had been moved to Friday evening, they consequently started at the back of the grid for sprint qualifying – a ‘race’ that officially wasn’t.
As the pack snaked through the opening sequence of corners, Schumacher and Mazepin clipped wheels. The Moscow-born driver’s left front made contact with the German’s right rear and it was Mazepin – who has acquired the nickname ‘Maze-spin’ – that lost out, spinning his car and losing touch.
Eventually the duo completed the 17 laps in 18th and 19th, with the only driver that will not be ahead of Mazepin on the grid for the race being Sergio Perez who had to retire his Red Bull after a spin of his own. Perez will start from the pit-lane.
“I had a decent start, which I was very happy with,” said Mazepin. “I was on the outside, which then went into the inside from Turn 2 to Turn 3, I locked up going in and obviously had to avoid my team-mate.
“With the amount of lock I had it was pretty impossible not to spin it. That’s what happened, but the race continued after that with no more damage and a few more laps.”
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) July 17, 2021
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Schumacher had criticised Mazepin’s driving after the pair had clashed at the Azerbaijan and French Grands Prix last month, but this time chose to take a diplomatic stance rather than hit out at his colleague.
“Obviously it’s unfortunate,” was Schumacher’s take. “I think the last thing you want to do is crash with your team-mate.
“Unfortunately, we had contact. I haven’t really seen much of it. I have to see it on the outboard to see what really happened.
“Unfortunately we had damage from it too, which meant on top of our lack of pace we were suffering a bit more due to that.
“Now it’s up to us to analyse what we can do better and hopefully we’ll be closer next time.”