Formula 1: Another step in a dead end – or about-face at Schumacher?

Mick Schumacher used the time on the family ranch in Texas to switch off and have fun. He knows it’s getting serious now. He knows what has to happen. “Hopefully we can turn things around,” he said before the US Grand Prix in Austin (Sunday, 9 p.m., in the WELT sports ticker). When he says “we”, Mick Schumacher should also include the team’s blunders and mistakes that robbed him of better placings. With a view to the results, however, I think above all about myself – it’s about his future in Formula 1.

39 race starts for the Haas racing team and the cooperation for almost two years are not enough for the team bosses to judge the qualities of the 23-year-old. This is the remarkable concomitant of the hanging game. In the next four Grand Prix up to the end of the season, Schumacher should and must prove himself, while there is already public flirting and flirting with rivals. Dead end – or U-turn? WELT documents the field of tension in which Schumacher moves.

Announcement from the team owner

“If he wants to stay with us, he has to show us that he can still score. We’re waiting for that,” said team owner Gene Haas recently: “We want Mick to get a few points and we’re trying to give him as much time as possible to see what he can do.” Schumacher’s future will be “only from Mick decided,” emphasized the 69-year-old Haas.

Schumacher has scored twelve points so far and has not made it into the top ten for seven races. Teammate Kevin Magnussen has 22 points, but the Dane, whose contract has long since been extended, has been waiting for another point for six races. The 30-year-old from Roskilde, who had made a surprising comeback in the motorsport premier class after the departure of the Russian pilot Nikita Masepin from the US racing team, was not as publicly questioned as the son of record champion Michael Schumacher.

From young to old?

Team boss Günther Steiner and owner Haas decided on a daring experiment before the 2021 season. In Masepin and Schumacher, they bet on two newcomers in Formula 1 – there was nothing to be gained with the much too slow car anyway. In 2022, Haas wanted to attack. Then Masepin, who seemed overwhelmed anyway, had to go, and with him his father and team’s main sponsor in the wake of the Russian attack on Ukraine. In Magnussen, Steiner and Haas brought back an old acquaintance, he had been a regular driver for the US racing team from 2017 up to and including 2020.

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Mick Schumacher had Masepin under control in the rookie duel. 20:2 ended the direct comparison in the qualification. Now it is from the perspective of the German 5:13. But the costly mistakes of the first third of the season weigh more heavily when he was not even able to compete in the race in Saudi Arabia after a serious qualifying crash and when he dismantled the car in the race in Monaco. “I think Mick has a lot of potential, but you know he costs us a fortune and he’s crashed a lot of cars,” said Gene Haas.

It cost money they just didn’t have. So keep an eye out for alternatives. Steiner has now confirmed contact with Nico Hülkenberg on RTL. “We’re talking, but nothing has been done yet,” added Steiner. When asked whether the now 35-year-old Hülkenberg could still feel fire, Steiner replied: “I think so, otherwise we wouldn’t be talking, would we?!”

He previously gushed over Daniel Ricciardo in an AP interview. Both are – as of now – without a contract for the coming year. Hülkenberg, who contested 181 races without a podium finish, has only been used as a temporary driver since the end of 2019. Ricciardo, who could not convince at McLaren, is already 33 years old.

There are Schumacher advocates

“He deserves to drive in Formula 1, not because of his name, it’s an incredible name, but he has the ability to be here,” said Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali about Mick Schumacher. It is “extremely important that Mick Schumacher continues his career in Formula 1. As fascinating and important as the technology in Formula 1 is, the kids hang posters of the heroes behind the wheel in their room,” emphasized Formula 1 Director Ross Brawn at Sport1. Sebastian Vettel, buddy and mentor, has supported Mick Schumacher several times. Mick Schumacher is a “great boy” and “definitely someone who deserves to drive in Formula 1,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

But when more than just the two cockpits at Haas and the British Williams team were free, no racing team struck. That is also part of the truth about Mick Schumacher. First choice looks different.

If Haas does not extend the cooperation, Williams would remain. The racing team belongs to a US investment company, the team leader is the German Jost Capito. It is no coincidence that Logan Sargeant took over the car from Noch-Williams driver Nicholas Latifi in the first free practice session at the US Grand Prix this Friday. The 21-year-old from Florida, currently third in Formula 2, is reportedly the preferred candidate. However, his further path will only be decided in the final in Abu Dhabi, because he is dependent on points for the so-called super license, the Formula 1 driver’s license. Mick Schumacher will hardly have time to take a deep breath until then.

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