until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Mazepin penalised for Norris incident in qualifying

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

Haas Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin has received a three-place grid penalty and a penalty point on his licence for “clearly impeding” Lando Norris in Spanish Grand Prix qualifying.

The grid penalty is meaningless given Mazepin was already due to start the race last, but the penalty point is Mazepin’s second on his licence, after he’d been adjudged to have ignored blue flags and impeded Sergio Perez in last weekend’s Portuguese GP.

Norris had come upon a gaggle of slower cars in the final sector on his flying lap in Q1 and ended up compromised by Mazepin as the Russian rookie elected to pick up the pace rather than wait for Norris to get past.

And it was that decision that was ultimately key to the stewards’ decision to penalise Mazepin.

Speaking in the immediate aftermath of qualifying, Norris lamented the Q1 incident as it had led to him having one set fewer of fresh softs in Q3 than he’d hoped for.

“It kind of cost me quali today,” he said, having qualified a below-expectations ninth.

But Norris’ rhetoric softened a bit when speaking to the written press later.

“He would have just had to do a little bit more to make sure he got out of the way but not all the blame was on him” :: Lando Norris

“It was to be honest a difficult situation for Nikita, because two other cars [Kimi Raikkonen and Yuki Tsunoda] overtook him into the last corner so late and were both on their in-laps, they’d already completed their time so it didn’t give Nikita that much time to really figure out what to do,” Norris conceded.

“But he could have stayed for like a couple more seconds off the racing line and allowed me to come past before starting his lap.

“He was in a tricky situation, to be honest, because two cars passed him and then just kind of held him up so there wasn’t a lot that he could do, but sometimes in Formula 1 it’s like that.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying Day Barcelona, Spain

“And especially in qualifying you can’t impede someone and it held me up quite a bit.

“He would have just had to do a little bit more to make sure he got out of the way but not all the blame was on him.

“But he definitely could have done just a little bit more. It was just a tough situation for him and then just unlucky for us.”

The stewards agreed that Mazepin was indeed in a “difficult situation” – but, having spoken to both Norris and Mazepin, decided the Haas rookie did deserve sanction.

“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 the incident,” their verdict read.

Nikita Mazepin

“Mazepin then slowed to maintain the gap to [Mick] Schumacher ahead of him. Between Turn 13 and 14, Raikkonen and 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 repass Raikkonen and Tsunoda clearly impeded Norris, who lost significant time.

“The stewards recognise 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.

“The stewards therefore order the usual penalty for ‘unnecessary impeding’ of a three grid place drop and a single penalty point.”

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