Haas F1 rookie Nikita Mazepin says he “almost crashed” during testing when he decided to briefly try and follow Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi in order to simulate the loss of downforce encountered behind another car.
Mazepin, who completed the morning session for Haas, is stepping up to Formula 1 after two seasons in Formula 2.
Mazepin explained that he wanted to evaluate the amount of downforce lost when following an opponent – particularly given Haas’ expected position towards the rear of the field.
As Mazepin followed Giovinazzi through Turn 3 he pulled out of the slipstream and encountered a dab of oversteer, accepting that it was a “worrying moment.”
“Antonio was on a lower fuel run and he was not doing consecutive laps,” said Mazepin.
“And I was going for the whole race distance and my pace was slower. He overtook me and I wanted to stay behind and learn.
“It is a known topic that F1 cars have a lot of downforce and lose a lot of downforce when they follow other cars.
“With such limited running and a lot of cars being most likely in front of me at the start the race in Bahrain, I wanted to experience the amount of downforce that I would lose. I did get to experience that.
“I almost crashed because the wind snap was huge. It was a bit of a worrying moment but good to try.”
Mazepin reiterated that gaining as much experience as possible remains his and Haas’ main ambition for testing.
The Russian completed 76 laps during the morning session.
“We are in the situation that we are in, and regardless of the teams plans the driver’s job is to maximise it, and my goal is to go as forward as I can possibly go,” he said.
“It was important to make a lot of laps because we are very limited with the amount of running we are going to get this year so the more laps I do the more familiar I am with the car and competing with guys who have raced over 10 years in F1.
“That is a big advantage that I will gain by completing 70 laps that I’ve done today. In regards to know development, I think we have a good foundation with the car to build and hopefully that foundation will help us go even further in development in 2022.”