Nikita Mazepin and Antonio Giovinazzi were left in a disagreement following Mazepin’s overtake on the Alfa Romeo driver at the end of Q1 at Imola.
With just over five minutes left on the clock, Haas sent Mazepin out onto the circuit on a fresh set of Soft tyres, where he circulated before joining the queue as the remainder of the cars emerged to complete their final efforts.
Mazepin was in the queue behind Giovinazzi, and with 15 seconds remaining on the clock, they rounded the final corner.
As they both crossed the line five seconds before the chequered flag was shown, Mazepin overtook Giovinazzi, forcing the latter to abandon his lap. Behind, George Russell passed the line with two seconds to spare, while Daniel Ricciardo was too close to the Williams driver to set a meaningful lap time.
“In F1 it’s a bit difficult,” Mazepin said. “There are 20 cars in segment one, which is where we are.
“Everyone is going out at the same time, the track is just not big enough for all of us.
“When there are three seconds on the clock, it’s either you go or you’ve got to box. I don’t think there’s an issue with it, I’m here to do my laps.”
However, Giovinazzi says Mazepin didn’t respect the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ of halting overtakes while cars queue in preparation for hot laps.
“It’s quite clear, we respect each other starting the lap and he didn’t respect [it],” Giovinazzi said. “This is really not correct for a qualifying lap. I didn’t make my last lap.
“Drivers normally respect each other on track but that was not the case today – Mazepin just failed to leave the space to the car ahead that all other drivers always give and destroyed my lap.
“I haven’t spoken with him yet, but this is not the behaviour we expect from each other on track. It’s a shame as the pace we had in the car yesterday was really good and we could have got a good result here.”
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner defended Mazepin’s actions, insisting Giovinazzi could have gone quicker ahead of Mazepin to create a gap.
“I think the car in front knows we have been on the receiving end as well a few times, so in the end you need to do what you need to do,” Steiner said.
“We are not doing it on purpose but it is getting very busy at the end of the session, in sessions like this.
“So you just have to go and hope for the best, because if you don’t go you lose the lap anyway.
“I don’t think you can call this a gentleman’s agreement because then again Antonio could have gone faster as well, he knew that Nikita was behind him and needed to make the chequered flag, or miss the chequered flag.
“So it’s unfortunate, no-one’s doing this on purpose or anything but it’s racing and if you are here racing you need to try to take every opportunity you have got.”