For the second time in two events, Haas driver Nikita Mazepin found himself in hot water with other drivers after qualifying.
After overtaking cars before the final corner in Bahrain and not respecting the unwritten driver etiquette agreement to not pass cars as they prepare for a flying lap, Mazepin infuriated Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi in qualifying today.
With cars backing up the final corners to try and create some space, Mazepin was right up the gearbox of the Italian as they started their final laps and overtook Giovinazzi as they headed towards the first chicane. It meant the Alfa driver had to abandon his last attempt.
Giovinazzi was unusually fired up after qualifying and let his feelings be known about the Russian driver.
''It’s very disappointing not to get the chance to even set my final lap because of what happened today,’’ said the 26-year-old.
''Drivers normally respect each other on track but that was not the case today – Mazepin just failed to leave the space to the car ahead that all other drivers always give and destroyed my lap. I haven’t spoken with him yet, but this is not the behaviour we expect from each other on track.’’
Mazepin gave his side of the story to written media following qualifying, including MotorLat.
''Right from the beginning, you exit from your pits and I left quite a significant gap, going slowly in the pitlane to make sure that when the people are backing up in turn 17 and 18, I have my space,’’ the Russian said.
''I’d done all the necessary braking and warming up of tyres down to turn 14/15. When I have arrived to the straight down to turn 17, I saw five or six cars going very slowly. The first car leading it was one of the Mercedes cars and I believe that he was going very slow. [I’m] not sure why that was; potentially that’s what he needed for his tyres.
''Obviously I was in the queue respecting the driver’s agreement. When I got to turn 17, my engineer said that there is ten seconds to go and you need to start to push now; Ricciardo and Russell are driving on the back of me because they wanted to go.
''I started to accelerate; Antonio saw it and also accelerated. I was very close to him on the main straight and my only option was to go forward.’’