Nikita Mazepin says there are “not many gentlemen in Formula 1” and that their agreements for qualifying have been abandoned following controversial moments in his debut season.
The drivers claimed to have an unwritten rule that they would not overtake each other into the final corner when preparing to start a qualifying lap, in order to give each other adequate space to try and have a clean run. However, Mazepin broke the agreement on more than one occasion when informed by his engineer that he would run out of time to start a lap if he didn’t, but he says after multiple drivers did similar at the last race, the concept appears to have been dropped.
“I don’t think there are very many gentlemen around in Formula 1 now!” Mazepin said. “Obviously, everyone said that I was breaking the agreement in Bahrain and then three very great drivers went out and did it in Baku. That’s everything that I’ve seen. Maybe that was it again and I think everyone’s put that idea to the side. I haven’t heard it being brought up ever since.”
On Saturday at the French Grand Prix, Mazepin’s qualifying session was ended slightly early when teammate Mick Schumacher crashed at the end of Q1, bringing out the red flag. At the time Schumacher was already in a top 15 position and so advanced to Q2 — although he couldn’t take part — and Mazepin doesn’t believe a driver benefiting from such an incident needs punishing even if it stopped his own final run.
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“Without the red flag for a lot of cars, then a lot of things would have been possible. Talking about the pace of the car, potentially the position would not change but if I had been able to do what I was expecting to do with the second set of tires, we could have maybe found five or six tenths of lap time on a single lap.
“It’s a bit of a gray zone, obviously. Some people will always be happy from it, some people will always be upset. I remember back when I raced in Euro Formula, if you caused a red flag they took your best lap away and I think it worked reasonably nicely to make sure that the drivers don’t just make sure they put it into the wall when the time matters.
“However, just talking about today I’m going to be a little bit pessimistic and say that the race is very long in Formula 1 — it’s not a Formula Renault, Formula 3 or even Formula 2 where you are able to keep that track position. I think probably Monaco and Baku would have been a bit more interesting with that rule but it’s not for me to decide.”