Spanish GP: Nikita Mazepin penalised by stewards for impeding McLaren's Lando Norris in qualifying
Lando Norris was delayed by the Haas rookie at the end of his first lap in Q1 amid traffic jam at the final chicane; Mazepin, who qualified last, given academic grid penalty but also picks up a superlicence sanction point
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 08/05/21 8:13pm
Haas driver Nikita Mazepin was found at fault and handed a penalty by Spanish GP stewards for impeding McLaren's Lando Norris in qualifying.
Norris found himself having to negotiate a sudden traffic jam as he entered the chicane at the end of his first timed lap in Q1, with Mazepin's Haas causing a particular delay. Norris had been on a strong lap but his final sector was compromised as a result and the Englishman had to take another set of tyres to secure his place in Q2.
Although stewards noted that Mazepin found himself in a "difficult situation" having just been overtaken by Kimi Raikkonen and Yuki Tsunoda approaching the chicane, they ruled that the Russian should have handled things differently in front of the oncoming Norris.
Stewards handed Mazepin a three-place grid penalty - rendered academic by the fact he had already qualified 20th and last - and a superlicence penalty point, his second in the first four races of his rookie season.
"During the Qualifying 1 session, Mazepin was setting up for a fast lap. 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 to the incident," read the stewards' verdict.
"Mazepin then slowed to maintain the gap to Schumacher ahead of him with both setting up for their fast laps. 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 re-pass Raikkonen and Tsunoda clearly impeded Norris, who lost significant time.
"The Stewards recognize 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."
Mazepin will line up on the back row just behind Nicholas Latifi after Haas team-mate Mick Schumacher got up to 18th after outqualifying the ostensibly faster Williams for the first time this season.