Ralf Schumacher has made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that he's not a fan of Nikita Mazepins' on-track behaviour after a weekend in which the Russian rookie's simmering feud with teammate Mick Schumacher started to boil over.
Schumacher, uncle of Mick, vented his anger about Mazepin's actions after the Russian defended extremely aggressively against Schumacher down the main straight at Zandvoort, coming dangerously close to pushing his teammate into the pit wall. The incident left Schumacher with front wing damage, necessitating a pit-stop for repairs.
It came just a day after a war of words broke out between the pair, with Mazepin feeling particularly aggrieved by Schumacher overtaking him on their outlaps prior to the final runs in Q1. Mazepin said the incident reflected Schumacher's "true nature", while the German said that he was permitted by the team to overtake.
"A rather unpleasant incident occurred during the race between Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, when the young Russian prevented Mick from overtaking at top speed by twitching his car to the side," Ralf Schumacher wrote in his column for Sky Sport Germany.
"Now Haas team boss Guenther Steiner is in demand. He has to write his own rulebook for his drivers to avoid such things, because it doesn't seem to work on its own."
Steiner refused to apportion blame on Mazepin, saying: "I think you can always say it's dangerous. You can avoid danger. I don't think it was a nasty move, to be honest. I looked at this scenario and it takes always two to tango."
This stance seems to have incensed the former Williams and Toyota driver, with Schumacher leaping to defend his nephew by questioning the motivation behind shielding Mazepin.
"You get the feeling that Steiner tends to take Mazepin under protection," Schumacher said.
"I can't say exactly why that is, but maybe it's because his father [Dmitry Mazepin, Chairman of Uralkali, Haas' title sponsor] invests a lot of money or even already owns shares. Exclusion of Nikita during the current season is not an alternative, because Mazepin brings a lot of money to the team.
"In my opinion, financial interests can be the only reason why the team boss keeps standing in front of Nikita. If you look at the Russian's performance, this cannot be a reason in relation to Mick. In addition, the sympathy and marketing effect with Mick is better.
"In Monza, I hope there won't be any more problems between the two. But if everything goes normally – even at the start – Nikita isn't anywhere near Mick anyway."
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