The Russian made his debut with the Haas team after having finished the 2020 Formula 2 season in fifth position, with a 14th-place finish in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix his best result of the year in F1.
With the Haas proving the slowest car of the F1 field all season long, Mazepin struggled at the back of the grid, most of the time fighting solely against teammate Mick Schumacher.
Mazepin admits that while he is prouder of how he pushed through a difficult year, he could have done a better job adapting to the demands of the sport.
“I finished school four years ago and that’s the last time I was receiving marks and I don’t really miss it so much,” Mazepin said.
“I never think that you should get a five because five is excellence [as in Russian school marks are from 2 to 5], and I don’t know what excellence is. Today it might be excellent but tomorrow I realise I can do something more.
“So four is the maximum I can give myself. So I guess four for sticking through it because the times were really tough this year at certain points.
“Probably a three for adaptation, because that’s hasn’t been my strong point and I keep improving on it.”
Mick Schumacher, Haas F1, Nikita Mazepin, Haas F1
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Mazepin’s rookie season featured several mistakes throughout the year, including a crash at the start of the Bahrain GP that he admits was one of the lowest points of the campaign.
“I used a few different cars this year, so certainly when I used the cars that I have found difficult or heavy, it was the lower moments,” he said, referring to having had to use a heavier chassis in several races this year.
“Then I also made some mistakes like in the Bahrain race and some other events when I didn’t feel like I performed well or I tried too hard and then ultimately lost my lap time like in Brazil, when I believe that we had a chance out-qualifying Williams or going into Q2.
“That was definitely the low moments, but the high moments is a… many races. I had a good race in Silverstone, in Brazil and Mexico.”