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Mick & Nik: Rivalry or Friendship Behind Haas‘ Garage Door?

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It’s an open secret that Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher are great rivals on the race track, despite piloting an uncompetitive Haas.

They only race against each other, first and foremost. This causes problems for the peace in the team and has already become clear during the race in Baku. Then, on the last lap of the race, Mazepin made a very late move in the direction of the German, who wanted to overtake him. Only because of quick reflexes and good braking, Schumacher could avoid a rear-end collision at top speed. After the race in Zandvoort, where there was a similar incident, there was a need for internal team discussions.

But how did this relationship become so heated?

Nikita Mazepin made his Formula 2 debut in 2019, driving alongside Nyck de Vries for the ART Grand Prix team. He finished his first season in the junior class in 18th place with 11 points. The following year he moved to Hitech Grand Prix, a new team in the series. He finished that 2020 season in 5th place with 164 points. He attracted attention with a bout of very reckless behaviour after the race in Spa: he came too fast into parc fermé, so that he ran over the sign for the second-placed Yuki Tsunoda. The same sign almost hit the Japanese driver. A grid penalty followed for the Russian and the media focus now shifted towards his transgressions.

Mick Schumacher’s Formula 2 career also started in the 2019 season, driving with Sean Gelael for Prema Racing. He finished 12th with 53 points in his first season with the team. In 2020, his team partner was replaced by Robert Shwartzmann. Schumacher won the championship that year with 215 points.

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Credit: Haas F1 Team

In fact, Schumacher and Mazepin have known each other much longer than their Formula 2 days. They already raced together in karting series and their paths have also crossed time and again in other junior classes. The first time they raced together was in 2013 at Tony Kart as team-mates. So, it’s safe to say that they have known each other’s driving styles for a very long time now.

Currently, they are both racing at Haas and fighting for any recognition in a team that has taken the spot of the permanent backmarker. This has already led to some dangerous incidents, as mentioned at the beginning.

Mazepin has also already admitted that the two are very different characters. In the official Formula 1 podcast Beyond the Grid, he says that things were already not particularly rosy between the two in the kart races.

I met Mick later in my life, racing with him in karting, and it was the same. People don’t remember but it wasn’t a smooth ride, even then.

Mick also took stock after the incident in Zandvoort. He says about his team-mate to Sky F1: “[…] But I think if we go to the point where we defend very aggressively, against a team-mate where you don’t have anything to gain, I think that is maybe not the right approach.

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Credit: Haas F1 Team

It is understandable that neither driver wants to play second fiddle in the team. Both want to show what they are capable of, even though they are in their rookie year in Formula 1. After alleged talks between team principal Günther Steiner and the drivers, both seem to be more conciliatory towards each other again. Nikita says in an interview with Bild:

For me, there are two Micks. Off the track, I really like him. We are the same age, ambitious and talented. If he ever needs help, I would always try to support him.

Not everyone buys that, though: in an interview with Ziggo Sports after the race in Turkey, the reporter reacted to Mazepin’s answer that Schumacher is his closest friend in Formula 1 by laughing and calling the Russian a liar. Nikita then replied, “Why am I a liar? He’s the closest to me in the garage. He’s coming to visit me in Moscow on vacation. He wants to see the snow and the bears.”

There seems to be an eternal up and down in the relationship between Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. How that will play out on the race track remains to be seen. However, one has to hope that the two drivers will not let their rivalry get the best of them to the point where one of them gets hurt.

Side by side, they’re driving the fastest cars in the world, after all.

Headline Image Credit: Haas F1 Team

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