Nikita Mazepin, who is probably one of the worst Formula 1 drivers of all time, didn’t finish last yesterday in Monaco. He finished second-to-last.
Well, maybe fourth-to-last, depending on how you count, as pole-sitter Charles Leclerc didn’t even start the race owing to a bizarre driveshaft issue, while Valtteri Bottas didn’t finish because of a bizarre wheel nut issue. Mick Schumacher, meanwhile, did finish, but, for the first time this season, he finished behind his teammate Mazepin.
“Even though we are one of the slowest or the slowest team, everything flies by so much,” Mazepin explained afterward. “The car was quite difficult to drive very fast out there.”
Well, sort of, since Schumacher said that he had engine problems.
“Unfortunately, we had a few issues with the engine mid-race, and that took us some time to solve,” Schumacher said. “But by the time we solved, obviously, we fell back.”
The race began with Schumacher bossing Mazepin around the hairpin, which, the final result notwithstanding, is a simulacrum of the whole season for these two.
Mazepin does not deserve a seat in Formula 1, but he has one, which means us fans must make lemonade with lemons, which, in Mazepin’s case, means taking delight in how bad he is, and how bad he is likely going to continue to be. I Googled Mazepin’s odds of winning the title this season, and according to one site he is 4,500 to 1, but even that is probably generous.
I confess that I struggle to understand what Mazepin gets out of all this. Maybe it is as simple as: It is fun to be 22 and driving a race car, because at that age you don’t quite realize that everything, ultimately, adds up.