Nikita Mazepin explained that the headrest of his Haas VF-21 worked its way loose just two corners into Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix.
Haas returned to home soil after a year’s absence and occupied its expected position at the rear of the field in terms of performance.
But Mazepin started from 17th on the grid owing to a trio of drivers – Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and George Russell – taking on fresh power unit components.
However Mazepin’s race unravelled at the start as he was forced into making an unscheduled pit stop that left him adrift of the pack.
“In Turn 2 the headrest came off in my car and it was quite a sketchy first lap as it lifted the back of the headrest and blocked both the left and right mirrors,” said Mazepin.
“I had to ask the team if there was anyone around me and hoping there was nobody as I couldn’t know where to turn in or not.
“That [pit stop] added over 25 seconds of race time so yeah that made it pretty difficult as I was driving on my own, trying to make one stop possible, but with these temperatures and these tyres it was just not possible.”
Haas boss Guenther Steiner explained that “there are two pins on the back [of the headrest] which were not engaged completely.
“Therefore we didn’t have to take the headrest off [at the pit stop], just [push it] down and in.
“You need to come into the pits else it is a black flag for safety reasons. We called him in immediately.”
Mazepin went on to classify as the final runner in 17th position.