Nikita Mazepin has been handed a symbolic grid penalty and an extra penalty point for impeding Lando Norris during qualifying at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Haas rookie was trying to prepare for a flying lap when he got caught in heavy traffic at the final chicane, and with Norris approaching on a fast lap he opted to accelerate ahead of the McLaren to try and impede him as little as possible. After being summoned to the stewards, Mazepin was handed a grid penalty that doesn’t alter his starting position of 20th, but does come with his second penalty point of the season.
“During the Qualifying 1 session, Mazepin was setting up for a fast lap,” the stewards decision explained. “As he approached Turns 10 and 11 Mazepin was informed that Norris was closing on a fast lap behind him and was informed of the closing gap all the way through to the incident.
“Mazepin then slowed to maintain the gap to Schumacher ahead of him with both setting up for their fast laps. Between Turn 13 and 14, (Kimi) Raikkonen and (Yuki) Tsunoda, who were coming into the pits, jumped ahead of Mazepin. Both cars had also been informed of the fast closing Norris, and it is clear that they did this to get out of Norris’ way. However, this created a difficult situation for Mazepin.
“The stewards determined that having been clearly informed of Norris’ whereabouts, Mazepin’s decision to pull out and re-pass Raikkonen and Tsunoda clearly impeded Norris, who lost significant time.
“The stewards recognize that this sequence of corners creates a special challenge to the drivers in qualifying and that Mazepin was faced with a difficult situation. This was also pointed out by Norris in the hearing. However, had Mazepin waited for Norris to pass, he could have pulled out and followed Norris and the stewards determined this opportunity was available to him without significantly compromising his next lap.”