Haas F1 driver Nikita Mazepin has taken the blame for his collision with Mick Schumacher, saying he had no qualms about apologising for “my mess-up”.
Mazepin punted Schumacher into a spin while trying to lunge down the inside of Roggia for 15th place on the second lap after the mid-race safety car restart, which followed the Lewis Hamilton/Max Verstappen collision.
He received a five-second penalty and would ultimately retire from the race with what he and the team have said was a power unit issue.
Tensions have been high between the Haas drivers as of late, with a number of public disagreements, but team principal Guenther Steiner confirmed the duo “cleared the air” about this particular coming together.
This was presumably helped by the fact Mazepin readily admitted he was at fault in the incident.
“I think that one is really simple, it was my mistake and I have no shame [in having] to apologise,” he said. “I’m sure he’ll make a lot of mistakes in the future and I will make a lot of mistakes in the future and the most important thing is to remain a human.
“It was my mess-up, no discussion on it, I deserved the penalty even though it wasn’t on purpose and I was fortunate he didn’t lose too much time by it, he was able to spin the car round straightaway.
“It was my fault, now I just say sorry.”
Mazepin said he lost “a bit of front wing” in the accident, which compromised his race even before the failure.
Elaborating on the collision, he said: “When you have a car that doesn’t have much downforce it’s difficult to stay close and you really only have one opportunity to go for it.
“I felt like Mick braked early so I put my nose there and then when my nose was there it wasn’t enough to say the corner was mine.
“It was just a racing thing, it happens a lot, you’ve seen it for so many drivers. I did totally deserve a penalty but I couldn’t have done anything when I was there.”
When asked for his take on the incident, Schumacher refrained from criticising Mazepin, having not seen the footage of the collision. He added: “Things happen, we race closely – I think obviously there was a lot of things happening in that race.”
As recently as the previous weekend at Zandvoort, Mazepin was aggrieved by Schumacher in qualifying and then incensed the German by blocking aggressively in the race – creating a situation that required a Steiner-initiated Thursday meeting at Monza in an attempt to control the situation.
Asked whether in this context it was a positive sign that Mazepin accepted responsibility for the collision, Schumacher said: “Yeah, again, I think that we don’t want to have an issue, because we have to work as a team, we want to bring the team forward, and that’s what’s important at the moment.”
“I think our two guys learned from the last races, now try to move on and try to take onboard the suggestions that we as a team give them and hopefully we have less of this coming in the future, even if today it happened,” Steiner said.
“If you are clear about it, it’s good, it’s part of learning and fortunately the car was not badly damaged.”