Nikita Mazepin has been handed a three-place grid drop and another penalty point on his licence for impeding Lando Norris during qualifying at the Spanish Grand Prix. The penalty means Mazepin will still start at the back of the grid after qualifying in 20th.
After hearing from both Norris and Mazepin, the Stewards decided that Mazepin was at fault. However, the decision was a little more complicated as a result of heavy traffic on the lap.
“The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 9 (Nikita Mazepin), the driver of car 4 (Lando Norris) and team representatives and reviewed multiple angles of video evidence, telemetry and team radio.
“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.
“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.
“The Stewards therefore order the usual penalty for “unnecessary impeding” of a three grid place drop and a single penalty point.”
This penalty might come as a surprise to Nikita, who told F1 after qualifying that this “was my second clean qualifying so I am pretty satisfied about it.”
Lando Norris will start the Spanish Grand Prix in ninth. Mazepin will start the race at the back of the grid in 20th.