Haas driver Nikita Mazepin has revealed his decision to kneel on the grid during the pre-race ceremony at the Spanish Grand Prix was to honour the Russian Victory Day.

The momentary pause ahead of the race for drivers to optionally kneel was brought in last season after Lewis Hamilton campaigned for equality in light of the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd in America.

Ahead of this season, the ethos of the moment was changed to focus on the three pillars of F1’s Environment, Social and Corporate Governance [ESG] platform, #weraceasone, which are: sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and community.

As this now allows drivers to mark the moment however they deem appropriate, Mazepin exercised his right to pay respect to Russia’s Victory Day which celebrates the end of the Second World War, which coincided with race day in Spain.

Mazepin, who had not taken a knee this season prior to Sunday, explained: “In Russia, May 9 is the anniversary of winning the war and I just felt the need to take respect for my nation.

“There were over 25 million people that died in the war, and my grandfather and grandmother were also fighting, so it was also respect for them.”

Mazepin trailed home 19th and last of the classified finishers in the race, blaming balance issues in his underdeveloped Haas VF-21 for his lack of pace.

Commenting on his race, Mazepin added: “It was very difficult. The balance shift was very strange.

“We struggled a lot with mid-corner under-rotation in qualifying and then it went to extreme oversteer on all the sets we used in the race.

“We need to analyse why the shift was so big, maybe it was the wind. Now we need to come back stronger for Monaco.”

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