Nikita Mazepin says the rules of engagement with Haas teammate Mick Schumacher have not changed following the pair’s run-in last weekend at Zandvoort.
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Mazepin and Schumacher nearly collided in the early stages of the Dutch Grand Prix when the Russian driver moved across to cut off his teammate as they barreled down the main straight.
A slight contact ensued in which Schumacher’s front wing was damaged, and after the race Schumacher heavily criticized Mazepin’s antics. It wasn’t the first incident involving the Haas rookies who also quarreled on track in Baku in June.
Last weekend, Mazepin dismissed Schumacher’s complaints, insisting his defensive move was within the rules, while Haas team boss Guenther Steiner adopted a neutral stance, saying that it takes “two to tango”.
Steiner brought his drivers together for an open discussion on the matter ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
Asked in Monza on Thursday if the team had imposed new rules of engagement for its drivers, Mazepin said: “They have not because we’ve deemed that I haven’t broken any rules or violations within the FIA sporting and racing regulations.
“And therefore, I think we’re going to work as a team to try and fix that.
“But perhaps you need to lift when you see that there is a bollard in front of you instead of damaging your car. But we will see.”
Mazepin reiterated his stance on his driving standards, insisting he’s always respectful of the rules.
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“We are here as racing drivers and I think it’s incorrect when drivers put them above the stewards and driver advisors and say what they should have done because it’s not their position,” he said.
“At the same time, I respect the rules a lot and what the rules say in the book is that unless there’s a significant portion of the car behind is side-by-side to you, you are not entitled to leave a car’s width and you’re entitled to make a move from the left to the right because you’re still in front and you can make your position safely.”
Asked about the content of the Haas drivers’ conversation with Steiner after Zandvoort, Mazepin said the discussion was best kept private.
“[It’s] good to know that I’m not in the bad books. So, that’s positive,” he commented.
“But, I want to respect the privacy of those discussions – the doors were closed. I don’t think it will be comfortable for all parties if it was an open discussion. So, I’ll keep it in that.”
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