Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says the decision to present Nikita Mazepin with a spinning top ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix was an attempt to lighten the mood around the rookie.
Mazepin has been coined the nickname ‘Mazespin’ for the number of times he has swapped ends during a challenging first year in Formula 1 so far, but on Sunday morning he posted a video showing Steiner giving him a present that featured a spinning top.
In the video, Steiner says: “There is a little present for you so you can keep on Mazespinning… So now you spin this one, it’s better than spinning the car!”
Asked about the joke following the race in Austria, Steiner says it was simply an attempt to try and show Mazepin’s sense of humor after being heavily criticized on social media.
“I think he got used to social media storms!” Steiner said. “He was on the wrong side at some stages, and in the end social media can be good or bad to you. It was an idea in the team to do this to him and then we did it.”
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And Steiner believes Mazepin did not need convincing to be part of the joke, as the team tries to improve his reputation after the Russian posted a video of himself groping a female in a car late last year.
“It was decided to be a little bit funny,” Steiner said. “We can also be funny here – everything on social media about Nikita is about bad things so there can also be good things, try to use it to your advantage and get away from the naysayers.
“He was not uncomfortable, he was pretty happy. You know there is a happy Nikita Mazepin as well. He’s not this unhappy kid you all think he is, this miserable young man, he’s got a good sense of humor.”