Formula 1 rookie Nikita Mazepin doesn’t deserve an F1 seat, but he has one anyway, most likely because his billionaire dad’s company is throwing a lot of money into the Haas team. This situation might be mildly irritating except that Mazepin’s start in Formula 1 has been comically and delightfully bad.
Three weeks ago in Bahrain, at his first F1 race, Mazepin started by crashing his Haas out on his third turn after, in the words of Martin Brundle, “getting a bit trigger happy with the throttle.”
With Formula 1 in Imola, Italy, this weekend for its second race of the season, things haven’t gone much better. Mazepin spun out twice in the first practice section Friday, with the second spin the result of overshooting a turn. The second one also sent his car into the wall. (You can see video of the incident here.)
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner explained afterward that Mazepin is simply trying too hard.
“I mean at some stage [the spin-outs] need to be reduced but he’s trying very hard – and I guess he’s trying sometimes a little bit too hard – but he needs to find that limit,” said Steiner after FP1 at Imola.
“That’s for him to find, and as for him to find we can help him doing that. It’s one of those things I’ve said before: Learning is painful, it comes with pain and at some stage that will hopefully stop, and he’ll be in a good place.”
“What I said to him, I said: ‘You need to keep your head high, you know? These things happen’,” explained Steiner.
“Obviously he was a beat up boy, everybody beats up on him but that makes it tough on him. In the end you come out on a better side; you just need to keep your head up, focus on the next race and keep on going, and that’s what he did.
Steiner better get used to explaining Mazepin’s poor performances, though surely the second practice session on Friday went better, right? I regret to inform you that it did, but only slightly, as Mazepin finished with the slowest lap time of anyone and it wasn’t really close.
Probably the person most delighted with Mazepin’s struggles is Lance Stroll, another underperforming Formula 1 driver with a rich dad. Because as long as Mazepin is around and fucking up, maybe Stroll will take a little less heat. It could be a great year for Stroll, even, given that his teammate and former F1 champion Sebastian Vettel has seemingly forgotten how to go fast.
Mazepin’s goal on Sunday, meanwhile, should be to simply finish the race.