Formula 1: How historically bad was Nikita Mazepin’s debut?

Nikita Mazepin, Haas, Formula 1 (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)
Nikita Mazepin, Haas, Formula 1 (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images) /

Excluding the five spins before the race itself, Nikita Mazepin’s Formula 1 debut was still the worst, on paper, in nearly two decades.

Nikita Mazepin’s first ever Formula 1 race weekend proved to be more of a weekend to forget than a weekend to remember, as it was filled with incidents and ultimately ended before he could complete three turns on race day.

In preseason testing at Bahrain International Circuit, he spun out in the first of three sessions. Then two weekends later in practice ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix at the track, he added two more spins, one in the second of three sessions and another in the third.

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In the opening round of three-round knockout qualifying for the race, he spun out twice, once toward the beginning and once at the end after violating the “gentlemen’s agreement” and ruining the lap times of several drivers who were actually competing to get to the next round.

Even throwing all of that out the window, his Formula 1 debut was historically bad.

For the sake of this next point, forget all of those spins. Even Mazepin’s debut in the 56-lap race around the 15-turn, 3.363-mile (5.412-kilometer) road course in Sakhir, Bahrain itself was the worst the sport has seen in almost two decades.

It was arguably the worst ever, but on paper/statistically speaking, it was the worst since the 2002 season as far as how long he managed to stay in the race.

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Rookies Allan McNish and Felipe Massa failed to make it through the first corner of the 16-turn, 3.296-mile (5.304-kilometer) Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit road course in Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia on the opening lap of the Australian Grand Prix and of the season, as they were involved in a massive pileup.

Mazepin at least made it through two corners in his Formula 1 debut, but like we said above, the 2002 season opener was only worse for those two rookies “on paper”. The pileup in the 2002 Australian Grand Prix was not caused by either one of those two drivers, whereas Mazepin’s low-speed spin was actually quite ridiculous.

“There’s absolutely no point in flying off the road when you’re in the slowest car on the grid!” said Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Brundle on-air after the incident, much to the delight of the average fan, considering how most fans feel about him being in the sport.

And of course, we can’t forget about the five spins that led up to the culmination of his first start, adding to what has to be considered among the worst starts to a Formula 1 career ever. Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft even repeated the “Mazespin” joke after his first of two spins in qualifying, and he dropped another entertaining line during the race itself.

“We’ve lost Fernando Alonso with suspected brake problems, and Nikita Mazepin with suspected crashing out problems, from this race,” said Croft toward the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Yes. “Suspected”.

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The second race of the 2021 season is scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 18. This race, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, is set to be broadcast live on ESPN from Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET.