Nikita Mazepin believes Nicholas Latifi was “stressed” after spinning at Imola, and that it contributed to their first-lap collision.
Latifi had spun on the opening lap of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, a first lap he branded “dangerous” with parts of the track bone dry while other areas had a lot of standing water due to heavy rain showers.
After his spin, the Canadian driver returned to the track but shortly after doing so was hit by Mazepin, causing Latifi to hit the barriers and wreck his Williams.
Latifi was not actually aware another driver had hit him, and replays showed there was very little Mazepin could have done to avoid the incident.
Thus Mazepin said it was simply an “unfortunate” crash for Latifi, brought about by the stress of spinning and trying to return to the track.
“He came back on the track, I don’t think he knew I was there, and with these cars if you go on the grass when it’s wet, you go into the wall,” he told reporters after the race.
“So I stayed and gave him all the room I had, but I don’t think he was aware I was there.
“You are obviously quite stressed when you go off and then come back to the circuit, and I think it’s just unfortunate for him.”
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After a very difficult debut in Bahrain which saw Mazepin spin twice in Q1 and then crash out on the opening lap, Imola was a clear step forward.
The Moscow-born racer finished P17, last of the classified runners and the only driver two laps down on race winner Max Verstappen, but it was valuable experience as Haas continued to lag behind the pack.
“Well, definitely better than last time,” he summarised.
“So much happened in this race, from starting on the wet tyres and not really expecting it because there was sunshine not long before the start, to then a red flag.
“So loads of things happening, but it’s a good learning experience from the back and to see the chequered flag was good.”
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