Mazepin '100 per cent ready' to battle in F1's midfield


Nikita Mazepin says he's ready to take his performance to the next level in 2022 and race among F1's midfield contenders if given the opportunity.

Mazepin's maiden season with Haas alongside fellow rookie Mick Schumacher was all about learning the ropes of F1 and bringing up the rear.

While the pair were constrained by the US outfit's equipment, Mazepin was consistently outpaced by his teammate during last year's campaign.

However, the 22-year-old Russian was satisfied overall with his apprenticeship and vows to apply his learnings this year, hopefully at the wheel of a more competitive and "predictable" car.

"I feel 100% ready," said Mazepin when asked if he was ready to fight in F1's midfield this year.

"I had a few good battles this year with some faster cars and I felt comfortable," he said.

"For me, mainly fighting with people, I need to know exactly where my rear wing ends and where the front wing ends, so I know exactly how to position my car next to them.

Nikita Mazepin (RUS) Haas F1 Team VF-21. 21.11.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Qatar Grand Prix, Doha

"I feel like I have that confidence. I remember it was very scary in the first race in Bahrain because the cars are very long and wide.

"But now I'm in a good place, so driving a more balanced car and a more predictable car should make it easier and more enjoyable."

Mazepin admitted that while he took away a sense of achievement on occasion, finishing at the tail end of the field remained a mitigating factor in 2021.

"Ultimately for me, when I turn up to a racetrack, it's about going through that purpose of myself and going through racing and actually feeling like you can influence the result.

"But [in 2021] even if it is a good weekend finishing in front of my teammate, P19, it is a bit difficult to really go home satisfied."

Just like any young F1 driver, Mazepin is a work in progress. And the Russian equated his personal development in the sport to eating an elephant "bite by bite".

"F1 for me seems very similar," he said. "I think overall it [the season] was positive.

"We made huge steps forward in my confidence and in my understanding from the point where we started.

"I've had very good races in the beginning of the year, then some difficult ones and then some good ones as well and some difficult ones.

"So you know, life in F1 isn't consistent to anyone. But we always knew what we were going into, and '22 is the year when we put things together. And I think I'm in a good place to do exactly that."

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