It would be absolutely horrible to jinx it, but it looks like Nikita Mazepin might have a shot at not finishing last this Sunday, as he has in all but two sessions this Formula 1 season.
I say this based on the results of the first and second practice sessions Thursday in Monaco, which does the first and second practices by tradition on the Thursday before Sunday’s race, not, as in most grands prix, on Friday. Anyway, Mazepin finished with the 17th-fastest time in the first practice and 18th-fastest time in the second practice, both times quicker than his teammate Mick Schumacher, something he has otherwise done only once all season.
This is ... a start for Mazepin, even if it’s only practice, and his slow Haas and his less-than-great driving skills still leave him in grave danger of last place on Sunday. Still, Mazepin was in bright spirits afterward when an interviewer asked him how it went.
“Surprising to say given the season so far, but I had so much fun in the car, it actually felt like it was a day off – it was just cool to drive,” Mazepin said, possibly with a smile on his face, before the interviewer’s next question, which was cold-blooded.
“Of course, you are going be in one of the teams that have to watch out for blue flags this weekend,” she said, referring to the flags shown to drivers who are down at least a lap, instructing them to let faster cars behind them pass. “How are you going to approach that? And are you working with your engineers to make sure you don’t make any wrong moves?”
You’re definitely getting lapped and probably multiple times on Sunday. You’re not going to fuck that up, right?
Mazepin replied that he already has a lot of experience in that department.
“Four races into this year, I think I know how to handle those,” he said.