'I felt like a carrot that was about to be caught by a rabbit' – Mazepin explains his 'painful' Styrian GP
The first race in Austria left Nikita Mazepin writing his Christmas list already as he had a very creative way of summing up how he felt dealing with being lapped at the Red Bull Ring.
Haas have been well off the pace at many circuits this season and were comfortably slowest in Austria, meaning their drivers were under threat of going a lap down particularly early on in the race given a circuit here takes under 70 seconds. Once that happened, Mazepin found the rest of his afternoon was spent receiving blue flags, and it was a situation he knew was going to be tough to experience.
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“It was very lonely, I felt like a carrot that was about to be caught by a rabbit!” Mazepin said. “And unfortunately I was caught, and then eventually I was also caught by the lapped cars and ***** hell when you get through to being lapped you lose your tyre temperatures, you go onto the dirt and it really is very painful.
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“I was thinking when I was driving in the car that if there’s one thing I can ask for Christmas it’s just to finish on the same lap as others because that’s just not a clean race at all. Once you get caught by that train of cars it’s just a never-ending spiral which is very painful for a driver, so just one of those days.”
Although Mazepin is on a steep learning curve in his rookie season, he doesn’t see much more that he can learn from the blue flag sections of a race given how the regulations demand backmarkers to yield.
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“Unfortunately when you get lapped on a reasonably short circuit like here there are loads of marbles off-line and the rule is you have to let the cars overtake you on the racing line which means you have to go off the racing line and then when you go to brake it’s a bit like ice.”
There was at least one spell when Mazepin wasn’t lonely as he battled with team mate Mick Schumacher through Turn 3, eventually finishing behind the other Haas.
“It was clean. I think we are doing a good job for the team. We push each other and we respect each other, and we certainly respect the team and their efforts. So like I’ve always said, I’m never going to let anybody past easily but I’m always going to do it with respect and within the rules. The faster guy finished in front, that’s what it is.”