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Mazepin penalised for Norris incident

NEWS STORY
08/05/2021

Nikita Mazepin has been handed a 3-place grid penalty for impeding Lando Norris during the opening phase of qualifying.

Mazepin was setting up for a fast lap in Q1, and as he approached turns 10 and 11 he 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 Mick Schumacher ahead of him with both setting up for their fast laps.

Between turns 13 and 14, Kimi Raikkonen and Yuki Tsunoda, who were coming into the pits, jumped ahead of Mazepin. Both drivers 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 the McLaren driver who lost significant time.

The stewards recognized that the sequence of corners creates a special challenge to 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.

As a result, the Russian, who qualified last, was handed the standard three-place grid penalty and a penalty point, bringing his total to two.

In Bahrain, Mazepin broke the gentleman's agreement that drivers should not overtake one another on their out laps in qualifying. Having been criticised for overtaking several cars in Q1, the Russian claimed he was unaware of the agreement but said he would "take notice from now on".

Speaking in the wake of the latest incident the Russian questioned the agreement.

"If I'm not mistaken, somebody from this (video media) call previously was asking about the drivers' gentleman's agreement into the last corner in Bahrain," he said.

"I think it was a very prime example of that not sort of working in Formula 1," he continued. "I was really trying to keep to it, ever since I took note of it, but it is very difficult when two cars overtake you going into last corner, which is very slow and tight.

"With the length of a car, which is two and a half metres, you just cannot put a third car there, and especially if the fourth car is arriving at full speed. So, I didn't feel like boxing up behind was an option, because that would have left my rear end on the racing line. The only option was to go, which I did. And yeah, unfortunately, it's just all these things coming together.

"I'm not upset about it, because there's really not much I could have done, apart from, you know, disappear. Which unfortunately I'm not yet able to do."

"He was in a tricky situation to be honest," said Norris of the incident, "because two cars passed and held him up, so there wasn't a lot that he could do.

"Sometimes in Formula 1 it's like that and especially in qualifying you can't impede someone like that and it held me up quite a bit.

"He would have just had to do that little bit more to make sure he got out of the way but not all the blame was on him," added the Briton. "But he definitely could have done a bit more. That was a tough situation for him and unlucky for us."

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