Nikita Mazepin has to learn he is driving a Haas and not a Mercedes after going off twice during the first practice session at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, says team principal Guenther Steiner.
The Russian had a tough first race weekend in Bahrain, spinning on multiple occasions in qualifying before he then crashed three corners into his debut. After spinning early in FP1 at Imola, Mazepin then crashed again at the end of the session after running wide at the final corner and Steiner says he will give his driver time to adapt to a less competitive car following a testing program with Mercedes.
“I think we jump to conclusions too early,” Steiner said. “I mean, we are now at the second FP1 this season. So now, to judge somebody on this, it’s a little bit early. For sure Bahrain, he had a few spins and maybe F2 to F1 is still a difficult step, I don’t know. Bahrain was very difficult conditions as well, but at the end, I put it down to learning.
“It’s like him driving the Mercedes last year. I think he learned something but also he has to learn that our car is not as good as a Mercedes. I’m very open about that one. I’m not trying to hide that for sure the Mercedes is a little bit less temperamental than our car, so, again, I can just repeat, we are here, we have got the whole year to learn. We haven’t got the whole year to spin but we are here; that is what we are trying to do this year.”
Steiner believes Mazepin is trying to make up for his difficult opening race weekend, leading to the errors he has made so far at Imola.
“I said, ‘You need to keep your head high,’ you know? These things happen and obviously in the moment he’s the beat-up boy, you know? Everybody beats up on him. That makes it tougher. In the end you come out on the better side — but you just need to keep your head up, focus on your next race and keep on going.
“Yesterday he was in a good place and today he’s in a good place at the debrief, even if he spun out, because he sees he’s improving and he’s learning. So, that’s what he has to do. That’s the only thing he can do in this situation — just keep on going, knowing that things went wrong but that he can do better.
“How much do (the errors) worry me? At some stage they need to be reduced but he’s trying very hard and I guess he’s trying sometimes a little bit too hard — he needs to find that limit but it’s for him to find, not us. We can help him doing that but it’s one of those things, as I’ve said before, learning is painful, you know? It comes with pain. At some stage that will hopefully stop and they will be in a good place.”