Nikita Mazepin has stated that he is confident that Haas can make a step forward in 2022, as the team announced on the eve of the first day of Practice at Sochi that their drive lineup would remain unchanged with Mazepin once again paired up with Mick Schumacher.
Mazepin arrives at the sport’s penultimate visit to Sochi as the only Russian in Formula 1, with the Moscow native looking to impress in front of his home crowd.
Last year Mazepin was the only Russian driver to finish on the rostrum after securing second in the shortened Formula 2 Sprint Race, which was red-flagged after five laps due to a heavy crash involving Jack Aitken and Luca Ghiotto.
Nevertheless, Mazepin stated that he doesn’t feel any added pressure racing in front of his home crowd when he was asked this question during a media session that was attended by selected publications, including Motorlat.
“Yes and no, because you know racing in front of the people that I get real support from, you know I want to do well in front of them.”
“I was the only Russian driver to go on the podium last year during the whole weekend, in Formula 2, I took my flag there (on the podium), and the feedback I got was surreal, but our fans are also very clever, and they are understanding that F1 is a sport not only of drivers but also of constructors and this year perhaps standing on the podium wouldn’t be possible, but I am here to stay at least for one more year, and I am sure there will be another time.”
Despite rumours that Mazepin and his backers could depart Haas for Alfa Romeo, Mazepin expressed his dedication to succeed with Haas as they look to move back up the grid after a difficult 2021 season.
“My contract that I originally signed was a multi-year deal; obviously there were terms for that, but I knew that I am with this team were in the same boat, we’re going through a difficult time this year, but I’ve never looked outside because I want to be here and succeed with the people that have invested and put their trust in me and at the moment it’s all going to plan.”
“I am very confident that it will be a step forward (in 2022); I am not sure how big of a step because nobody knows what the competitors are going to find and how they’re going to approach that year, but Haas has hired some very strong technical people such as Simone Resta for example, and we have so many people who have succeeded in the past, and I am looking forward to doing my best to succeed together.”
Mazepin’s maiden season has been dogged by several incidents with Schumacher, with the pair running into each other throughout the season. The latest incident being at the previous round at Monza, where Mazepin hit Schumacher during the Grand Prix.
However, Mazepin hopes that the pressure will ease if Haas has a more competitive car in 2022, which would give both drivers a chance to fight with Williams and Alfa Romeo for a spot in Q2.
“The coming races will be the same as they were for my mental preparation because I’ve said it many times I want to be in front, and I will do my best, but it should be easier next year because hopefully, we’ll be having a few cars in between us to fight with, and then the whole pressure of your weekend’s great if you are P19 and the weekend’s not great if you are P20, kind of goes and we can actually start looking to getting into Q2 and places like that.”