Schumacher impresses Ferrari as he makes light work of Mazepin

2021 team mate battles: Schumacher vs Mazepin

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Haas made it clear from the outset the 2021 Formula 1 season would be a learning year for their all-new, all-rookie driver pairing, in a chassis which had only been lightly tweaked over the winter in order to ensure it complied with the revised technical regulations.

Points never looked like a realistic possibility in any of the 22 races, even those which saw relatively high retirement rates among the front runners. With both drivers expecting to keep their seats for 2022 from the outset, the stakes didn’t seem high either.

Yet at times the contest between the Haas pair was conducted with a fierceness that would have made title contenders Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton blanch. For Nikita Mazepin at least, beating his team mate appeared to take on paramount importance, which makes it all the more striking that he failed to achieve that goal to a greater degree than any of his 19 competitors.

The extent to which differences between their chassis played a role in this was a point of debate during the season. According to the the team, both drivers had to make do with a slightly heavier chassis at times earlier in the year, which Mazepin called attention to prior to its replacement at the Belgian Grand Prix. While the heavier chassis undoubtedly had a negative effect on the lap times of the driver who used it, as team principal Guenther Steiner acknowledged, it’s unclear which driver used it when, and therefore what effect it may have had.

Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, Haas, Baku City Circuit, 2021
The Haas pair got too close for comfort at times
What is clear is this was the most one-sided competition between a pair of team mates on the grid. Mick Schumacher was faster than his team mate in every qualifying session he participated in, though he missed two after crashes during final practice sessions in Monaco and Hungary. When both cars finished he was usually ahead as well. Among the three exceptions were Monaco, where Schumacher lost time with a fuel pressure problem, and Brazil, where he collected damage tangling with Kimi Raikkonen.

Mazepin fought hard to seize any opportunity to put one over his team mate. A Safety Car and red flag in Baku allowed him to recover a 45-second deficit to his team mate and restart alongside him. Having nosed ahead at the restart, Mazepin swerved shockingly close to Schumacher as his team mate passed him on the way to the finishing line. Other, less severe incidents followed, notably in Zandvoort where the pair disputed track position during Q1, holding other drivers up as a result.

It must have been especially galling for Mazepin that his largest defeat to Schumacher in qualifying occured at his home event, where he laboured unsuccessfully to get his tyres into the correct temperature window in a rain-hit session. It was a similar story two weeks later in Istanbul. Even factoring out these huge losses as being unrepresentative, Mazepin still averaged over six-tenths of a second slower than his team mate on average over the year, the worst of any driver in the field.

What the two drivers have in common is a shared hope they’ll have something better to drive next year. Schumacher’s chances increased with the recent news the Ferrari Driver Academy member will serve as the team’s reserve driver at half of next year’s races. “If you are doing well, no doubt that you may have opportunities,” noted team principal Mattia Binotto. The clear daylight Schumacher put between himself and his team mate can only have helped.

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Mick Schumacher vs Nikita Mazepin: Key stats

Mick Schumacher vs Nikita Mazepin: Who finished ahead at each round

Mick SchumacherQ
Nikita MazepinQ

Mick Schumacher vs Nikita Mazepin: Qualifying gap

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Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time. Negative indicates Mick Schumacher was faster, positive means Nikita Mazepin was faster

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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28 comments on “Schumacher impresses Ferrari as he makes light work of Mazepin”

  1. I don’t think anyone expected Mazepin to be this far behind. He wasn’t this far behind Schumacher in F2

    Maybe they will have a car they can work more with next season.

    1. Maybe the other factor Mazepin mentioned a few times @napierrailton, is that Schumacher gets to use the Ferrari simulator to learn tracks and train his abilities while he himself is down to the F1 game for any simulation he gets, that certainly is not going to help.

      Especially with the clearly hard to drive and uncooperative car – when Grosjean and Magnussen who both have experience and have shown pace in the past, struggled with the car, these rookies must have had a rough ride indeed – it is hard to say exactly how good or bad either of the Haas drivers are.

      I am looking forward to seeing both in at least a decent car next year to be able to judge them better. But Mazepin did not impress at all, and his aggressive driving certainly did not do him any favours either.

      1. But how often would Mick get to use the Ferrari simulator given that prior to a race Ferrari were probably using it for their own purposes with their own sim driver?

  2. What is clear is this was the most one-sided competition between a pair of team mates on the grid.

    Disagree! And not just on the clarity, but e.g. Verstappen-Perez was more one-sided than this pairing IMO if you include the Sundays.

    1. Looking at the ‘who was ahead at each round’ table, Perez has only two wins against Verstappen, and one of those was Baku where Verstappen had the late puncture. Mazepin has three wins against Schumacher, and arguably should have five as Schumacher’s pre-qualifying crashes should count against him, in my opinion, even if they officially don’t. And Tsunoda only has four wins against Gasly, and one of those (Silverstone) was down to a puncture for Gasly. Tsunoda may have done well in Abu Dhabi, but for most of the season he was a very long way behind Gasly, and crashed too often. As much as I like Mick Schumacher, I cannot agree that this was the most one-sided competition on the grid, as Mazepin also cost the team far less money than his teammate through crashes, which for a team like Haas should mean something. I think this article is too harsh on Mazepin.

      1. I agree that Max-Perez and Gasly-Tsonuda were all huge mismatches, but you cant discount Schumacher’s performance against Mazepin as well. Considering that they both had no experience in F1 prior to this season, for one rookie to dominate another as convincingly as Schumacher did, honestly gets more brownie points for him that it does for Max and Pierre, who are seasoned F1 talents, with a strong standing in their team.

  3. Well I wasn’t impressed. To much simple mistakes, like imola spinning, and to be honest Mazepin is not a great driver. So how good he really is, is unknown for me atm. His driving in F2 was far from inspiring and I was surprised he even got a ticket to F1. So with that as reference Ferrari is only saying this because they want the name Schumacher still connected to the brand. And that is a sad thing.

    1. Surprisingly, Mick’s crash bill is higher than that of Mazepin’s. On planet f1, you can see it there.

  4. Ferrari were impressed by the name Schumacher. Driving was secondary

    1. You meant $chumacher.

  5. For all the talk, if we take away the last name, Mick is not even close to looking good, he has the weakest teammate on the grid. Everyone thinks he’s a potential Michael, but he’s more likely a discount Ralph.

    He’s made it into F1, congratulations, he may even become a Ferrari driver, but once the nostalgia and marketing team milk all they can, I see him slip out silently until he has a kid named Michael and the process begins again.

    1. Not everyone thinks he’s a potential michael, I said it before he could easily be a ralf given what he’s shown, but his car was so bad that it’s not fair to say he could be a great driver, let’s see him at ferrari or something before saying that.

    2. couldn’t be*

  6. It seems fair to cut both guys some slack; both rookies, the worst car by far, and, like Tsunoda, a whole list of tracks neither had ever been.

    Mazepin was the slower of the two, as expected, but he kept himself out of incidents. Mostly, anyway. Schumacher Jr. didn’t do his team any favours by crashing as often as he did, especially for a backmarker team those expenses are costly.

    I’d disagree with the assessmen that this was the most one sided match up. For that you’d only have to look at Red Bull.

    As for the Ferrari link, it’s somewhat faint praise. The team only nominated Schumacher Jr. for the races where Giovinazzi has other duties. And Giovinazzi himself never came anywhere close to a Ferrari race seat.

  7. Not sure if mazespin is the measure here to beat.
    Schumi made a lot of costly mistakes this year. Crashing an undrivable car a lot. Mazespin got a nickname as a result of his spins but did not make anywhere near costly crashes.
    For now the jury is still out on Schumi. More Ralph level then Michael for now.

    1. Yes, that’s what I think too, but when you have this bad a car it’s hard to emerge, look at russell, already did better this year with a more decent williams, not to mention his one merc race.

  8. Age old problem, how to rate a driver with so inferior gear.

    And his teammate was a Rookie, fairly unknown F1 quantity.. And car was a dog.

    Is Mazepin just bad and average driver looks good alongside him? Most F1 drivers. Have accolades from lower categories, so his GP2 title hardly counts for something.

    Kinda like Russel for few years at Williams. When he got in to a Mercedes he was quite spectacular.

    Similar results are almost impossible in Ferrari, if he were to replace LeClerc or Sainz.

    So at best we can see him wait at the back while his career ends up in a dead end.

    1. @jureo

      To be honest, I think Schumacher is getting lesser credit than he deserves for this season. In Russell’s rookie season he was paired up against Kubica, who was probably as experienced as a rookie having spent 8 years away from the sport, and was clearly not physically capable of being getting the most out of his machinery. Yet, Russell got a lot of accolades for outqualifying him every race weekend and making it to Q2 a few times.

      I think if Russell was paired up against Mazepin in his rookie season, he wouldn’t have given him any more of a thrashing than Schumacher did.

      1. Yeah, that is the problem.

        No matter how good a job he does, noticable results are off the table.

        Kubica has a name, even if not speed. Russel is now hot stuff of the future.

        If Mick keeps beeting Mazepin 20 : 0, will he get a Ferrari seat?

        The car needs to be a lot better, before driver can show his potential.

        1. He could still go to alfa romeo, that’s a bit better, good enough to show his talent.

  9. Hard to judge given they were only racing each other but Mazepin never really looked that fast and agree with the article, he seemed more intent on beating Schumacher than anything else. Kinda expected Schumacher to soundly beat him but didn’t expect him to be beaten this badly – given the investment Mazepin’s family has made into not just his career but the Haas team itself I bet they figured it’d look better too. Maybe next year Mazepin will improve but at the moment he looks like a wasted seat given the amount of decent drivers from last year’s and this year’s F2 without a drive.

    1. I agree, FORGET the zoomer fake reddit memes about him MAZ is F1 quality and actually good in F2 the only problem with him was his horrific red mist Pastor Maldonado anger and his disgusting off tack behavior (which was memory holed due to his billionare daddy who can make ‘stories’ disappear) .

      What i don’t like is that he is aware that everyone expects him to fail and not wanting to be future meme he consciously drives slower and never pushes the car 100% to get the car home intact similar to Max Chilton who genuinely talentless and only in F1 due to rich sub billionaire daddy and his AON insurance empire money. There is no way that he is 0.6 to one second slower than Mick nepotism in the same machinery.

      The main problem with modern F1 is that the grid is saturated with pay drivers or drivers where daddy is a big investors(in strolls case his dad owns the team…) which creates a huge gulf in quality when you have GOATs like Lewis racing against nepotism brats and drivers with meglomaniac billionaire dads spoiling them in attempt to satisfy their huge overinflated egos .

  10. Russel beats Latifi -> Wow, he’s a monster!
    Schumacher beats Mazepin -> Nah, not a benchmark

    Seriously, Mazepin did arguably better than Latifi in his F2 stint, winning races in his second season & fighting for the championship till the last few races.
    So why does everyone rate Mazepin lower than Latifi?

    I think Mick did a great job in most of the events this season.
    Some rookie mistakes here and there, sure, but also some unnoticed great quali & race performances with the worst package of the grid.
    Think it was a very positive debut season

    1. Mazepin had probably the worst introduction to F1 you could possibly have in the current era. Before he’d even set foot in the car he’d attracted the opprobrium of fans everywhere, thanks to his nationality, his extremely rich father and his genuinely disgraceful behaviour towards a young woman captured on video.

      When he actually hit the track, not only did he spin off by himself three corners into his first race, but seemingly every session there would be yellow/red flag disruption caused by Mazepin having an incident, usually on his own. In one of the early races (I forget which) he finished over a minute behind his teammate on an identical strategy. The car was clearly terrible, and difficult to handle, but it was clear enough in those early races that he wasn’t up to the task of driving in F1.

      As the season progressed he got slightly less terrible, to the point where he was able to consistently lap within sight of his teammate without spinning off, but first impressions count for a lot. From memory, Latifi had a much quieter introduction to F1, even if he wasn’t especially fast, which is probably why he doesn’t get as much criticism as Mazepin.

    2. thegamer23

      So why does everyone rate Mazepin lower than Latifi?

      It’s because Latifi has been running closer to Russell than Mazepin is to Schumacher kid, even in quali. If you factor out some heavy chassis and other misfortunes of a worse car, the gap decreases, but is probably still there. Latifi looks like a more well adapted Formula 1 driver than Mazepin.

  11. I think it’s kinda hard to drive such a terrible car as a rookie, especially if you don’t know half of the circuits. Nikita was not good this year, but it’s kind of hard to swallow if you are just trying to drive the car to the finish and keep costs at a minimal, cause dad is investing in next year, while your hugely overrated, pampered and favored (by the team and all journalists) teammate keeps thinking he is as good as the front runners and keeps crashing the car and burning money.

    Nikita never got the benefit of the doubt and I think he is half as bad as he seems.

    Mick on the other hand will have a hard time next year. People will finally see he is not as good as people hope he is.

  12. This comes from my own preconceptions, and obviously ill-informed. I’m not defending myself, quite the opposite, it’s just that I find Nikita’s accent very ‘jarring’. I expect him to sound like ‘the baddy’ from a James Bond film, because he’s Russian……. and I have an idea of what ‘Russians should sound like’.

    He sounds like a Butcher from Ipswich.

    I’m happy to express myself in other languages, but it’s evident to anyone native that my first language is English. They might not know if I’m American, British, Canadian or Australian. But I have an accent, and so does Seb Vettel, Pierre Gasly, Toto Wolff and you can probably pin-point what their ‘first tongue’ is after listening to a sentence from them.

    All F1 drivers seem to be able to express themselves in English, (perhaps Yuki struggles sometimes, but he still says more than Kimi, but I guess that’s Kimi’s choice).

    I presume Nikita went to an ‘International School’, but normally people end up with that ‘pan-atlantic’ accent from 1950’s films that people never actually sounded like. Why does he sound like, well that? It doesn’t matter at the end of the day. It’s just a voice.

    I’m surprised he was only 6/10ths off Mick, I feel like every time I looked at the timing screen he was a second and half off. But that’ll never surprise me as much as his Wetherspoons impression.

  13. Schumacher was only impressive in destroying property. Atop of damage costs this season. And then both of them are very mediocre. Schumacher is there just for the name. Best drivers of 2020 F2 season were Ilott and Shwartzman. Schumacher won that season thank to his luck and thank to his way of pushing contesters out of track.

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