Formula 1: Did Nikita Mazepin really blame the team for his own mistake?

Nikita Mazepin, Haas, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Nikita Mazepin, Haas, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) /

Nikita Mazepin had an interesting response on why he did what he did at the end of his first Formula 1 qualifying session at Bahrain International Circuit.

“Disaster” would be a nice word to describe Nikita Mazepin’s first Formula 1 qualifying session behind the wheel of his Haas VF-21 ahead of the 2021 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit.

Not only did he qualify in last place (20th) after spinning out twice in the first of three rounds of qualifying around the 15-turn, 3.363-mile (5.412-kilometer) road course in Sakhir, Bahrain, but he already made some enemies in the process.

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His first spin in turn 13 messed up the lap time of teammate Mick Schumacher, who still ended up qualifying a comfortable 0.824 seconds ahead of him — even if only on the opposite side of the back row.

His second spin was what got the rest of the grid talking.

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He spun out in turn one as the second wound down in the first round of qualifying, and that prevented several drivers who were actually in contention to advance to the second round from having a chance to do so, most notably Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.

But it gets better — or worse. What irritated many was how he put himself in a position to spin out at the end of the round. His actions violated the unwritten “gentlemen’s agreement” regarding passing cars on the final sector of their out laps.

As a result, several drivers had to back off, messing up their tire temperatures. The spin just made things worse, as it basically eliminated them from having a chance to improve their top lap times.

Twitter loved it, of course; just look at any Mazepin story from over the offseason. This reaction was implied months ago, and fans were just waiting for the right moment.

They didn’t have to wait very long.

Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft even picked up on the “Mazespin” nickname.

But on a serious note, it was irritating to many.

And it gets even better — again, or worse.

Afterward, Mazepin not only said that he had “never heard of this agreement” but that he is the “team’s driver” and they are the reason why he did what he did and violated said agreement.

Here is what he had to say after the session.

"“Coming into that last corner, my team has told me that – first of all I was working on trying to sort a brake-by-wire issue cause there is an electrical issue that can be sorted by the steering wheel which it wasn’t.“They suggested to try it out. Plus, if you would have noticed, I was kept on for a long time on the weighbridge so I lost a lot of time. My team has told me that there isn’t enough time to cross the start/finish line if I don’t go now.“I am obviously the team’s driver, I am doing as I am instructed and the instructions were to push. To be very honest, I have never heard of this agreement before. However, I will take notice from now on.”"

Is he blaming the team for his own mistake?

Now, it’s easy to make Mazepin a punching bag. No matter how much you dislike the kid, things can sometimes get carried away, and I’m sure that, over time, he will be the scapegoat for things that he isn’t truly responsible for, considering just how much he has done both on and off the track over the years leading up to his Formula 1 to actually get himself into trouble.

And at least he admitted he had never heard of the unwritten agreement.

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But what is this even supposed to mean? The team told him to blatantly disrespect every other driver on the track?

If only we would have noticed, I guess.

If they did — and he was told to overtake over the radio, even though he definitely had enough time like everybody he passed — maybe we need some Guenther Steiner from season 1, episode 1 of Drive to Survive on a loop to match the circumstance.

Just a thought for the team’s next 19th place qualifying battle.

Oh, and poor Mick…

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Tune in to ESPN at 11:00 a.m. ET this morning for the live broadcast of the Bahrain Grand Prix from Bahrain International Circuit.