Haas Formula 1 team principal Gunther Steiner believes Nikta Mazepin is trying a “little bit too hard” as his error-strewn start to the season continued in practice at Imola.
Mazepin’s debut F1 weekend last time out in Bahrain proved eventful as his suffered a series of spins in practice and qualifying, before crashing out on the opening lap.
During Friday’s first practice session for this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the Russian spun on his installation lap and crashed at the final corner.
Amid the difficult start to Mazepin’s rookie campaign, Steiner says his driver will have to do some “painful” learning in order to turn things around.
“At some stage, they [the spins] need to be reduced, but he’s trying very hard for that – and I guess he’s trying sometimes a little bit too hard,” said Steiner, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“He needs to find that limit. But that’s for him to find, not us. We can help him in doing that, but it’s one of these things that I’ve said before: learning is painful.
“It comes with pain, but at some stage that will hopefully stop and he will be in a good place.”
Confident that Mazepin will soon cut out the errors from his driving, Steiner feels Haas’ wind sensitive 2021 car hasn’t helped matters.
“In Bahrain, I would say that he had to learn also the wind conditions, and in Bahrain [they] were very rough,” Steiner said. “Our car was already last year very bad in wind conditions, so just to understand that, that caused a few spins, and Mick had one in the race as well.
“Obviously, we’re not planning to spin the car, but on the other side it’s part of the learning. So I don’t want to put a number or time on anything of this. This will sort itself out in my opinion.”
Steiner refuted suggestions that Mazepin was struggling to adapt to F1 machinery, but felt he needs reminding the team’s car is not as easy to drive as a Mercedes after Mazepin’s private test for them last year.
“I think we jump to a conclusion too early,” Steiner said. “We are in our second FP1 this season, so to judge somebody on this, it’s a little bit early. But for sure in Bahrain he had a few spins.
“Maybe F2 to F1 is still a difficult step, but Bahrain was very difficult conditions as well. And him driving the Mercedes last year? I think he learned something.
“But also he has to learn our car is not as good as a Mercedes. I mean, I’m very open about that one. I’m not trying to hide that. For sure the Mercedes is a little bit less temperamental than our car.
“But again, I just can repeat, we are here and we have got the whole year to learn. Hopefully we haven’t got the whole year to spin, but we are here [to learn]. That is what we are trying to do this year.”