An error with the Haas of Nikita Mazepin meant the young Russian driver couldn’t see anything on his first lap of the United States Grand Prix.
It hasn’t been the easiest season for the American team, with Mazepin and his teammate Mick Schumacher finishing at the back of the grid each race.
Mazepin was starting from 17th last time out after numerous power unit penalties were dished out to George Russell, Fernando Alonso, and Sebastian Vettel.
Their penalties were of benefit to the Russian who was given a boost in the field before lights out, however, it was short-lived because by the second corner his vision became obscured by an issue with the headrest.
Speaking after the race, he confirmed; “Unfortunately not very busy because in Turn 2 the headrest came off in my car!
“That did two things. One it was quite a sketchy first lap because it lifted the back of the headrest and blocked both mirrors, so I had to ask the team if there were any people around me – hoping that there wasn’t because I didn’t know where I could turn in and not.
“And the second thing was that obviously adds over 25 seconds to our race time for an unnecessary pit stop, so it made it pretty difficult from there onwards because I was just driving on my own and trying to make one pit stop work but with these temperatures and these tyres it just wasn’t possible.”
The team believes the headrest shifted when Mazepin got into the car before lights out, and Team Principal Guenther Steiner said it was surprisingly the only major problem for the team on Sunday.
“The only issue we had was with the headrest of Nikita,” he said.
“It just jumped out, it wasn’t properly in, that was the only unfortunate thing that happened.
“All the rest, I would say, went to plan. We learned some things, especially the drivers, how to manage these tyres, they were difficult to manage but that was for everybody. I think they did a good job, they got the best out of what we’ve got.
“Apparently what the guys told me when they put it on the grid, there are two pins in the back which weren’t engaged completely so, therefore, we didn’t have to take the headrest off when he got in the pits, they just pushed it down and in.
“It didn’t engage. I don’t know the exact details but it didn’t engage. It came off in Turn 3, I think he said Turn 3 or 4 and you need to come in the pits because otherwise, you get a black flag for safety reasons. It’s part of your protection here so we called him in immediately but again it was difficult because if the headrest is up you cannot see in the mirrors.
“Anyway, we got him in and they just pushed it in and off he went and we changed tyres obviously when we had the chance.”