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Why Haas must say goodbye to Schumacher after this season

Why Haas must say goodbye to Schumacher after this season

16 August - 14:41
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GPblog.com

There are still a number of Formula One seats available for the 2023 season, including Mick Schumacher's Haas seat, but does the German deserve to stay on for another year?

There have been rumours for some time that Schumacher must fear for his place at Haas. The German is said to be under a lot of pressure within the team. Team boss Guenther Steiner is in no hurry to start talks with his driver about a contract extension, and that perhaps says it all. After the summer break Schumacher can expect the first negotiations.

In 2021, Schumacher drove his debut year in F1, but the young driver could not really compete with the rest of the field. The Haas car was so bad that both Schumacher and then-teammate Nikita Mazepin ended the season with zero points. This season, Schumacher has been given another chance to prove himself at Haas, but this time alongside new recruit Kevin Magnussen, who made a surprising comeback after Mazepin's departure. The Russian didn't really compete with Schumacher in 2021, but with Magnussen on the team that's a different story now.

Schumacher no threat to Magnussen

After a year out of the sport you would think Magnussen would need time to get back on track, but it was Schumacher who had a poor start to the season. Magnussen opened the season with fifth place in Bahrain, while Schumacher finished just outside the points with eleventh. The Haas car looked surprisingly fast after a dramatically bad season in 2021, and Magnussen was able to take advantage of that in the first few races.

In qualifying, the difference between Magnussen and Schumacher becomes very clear. The Dane wins the qualifying duel with eleven sessions in his favour, while Schumacher has only finished ahead of his teammate twice on Saturday. In addition, Magnussen has finished in Q3 seven times, while Schumacher has only managed this three times. In the driver's championship Magnussen is currently eleventh with 22 points. Schumacher is fifteenth with twelve points. With the return of Magnussen, Haas has in my opinion found a strong leader, even though the Dane is a rather aggressive driver who is sometimes involved in incidents with other drivers. Still, Haas can rely on him to score points regularly and he doesn't end up in the wall as often as his teammate.

Schumacher showed temporary improvement

From the Canadian Grand Prix onwards, Schumacher suddenly impressed with his best ever result in qualifying (P6) and two races in a row where he finished in the points. Still, he had to rely mainly on mistakes and DNFs from others to finish in the points, such as the heavy crash of Zhou Guanyu, George Russell and Alexander Albon in Silverstone. It seemed for a while that the German had found himself, but things went downhill again with a fifteenth and fourteenth place in the last two races before the summer break.

Schumacher has also cost Haas a little too much this season. With his heavy crashes in Saudi Arabia and Monaco, Haas had to spend a lot of money replacing parts, but the team cannot use that on its already low budget. Of course, the Haas is still not the best car on the grid, and Magnussen too sometimes struggles to get better results than the competition. Still, Schumacher will not be able to use the argument of a bad car for his mediocre performance forever.

Is Schumacher convincing enough?

Looking back at Schumacher's results in Formula 2 and Formula 3, it is notable that the German only performed well in his second season. In F3, Schumacher finished 12th in his first year and only managed to take home the championship in his second season. He repeated exactly the same results in his two seasons in F2. Schumacher was thus not an immediately convincing talent.

Compared to other juniors who want to make the step to F1, their performances are, in my opinion, just a little bit better. Take Oscar Piastri, for example, the driver currently embroiled in chaos at Alpine and McLaren. The Australian won his debut season in both F2 and F3 in convincing fashion, and he is sought after by several F1 teams. The same goes for George Russell and Charles Leclerc, who were seen as big talents before they made the step to F1 with their strong wins in F2 and F3. Schumacher's winning of the competitive classes is certainly a good thing, but when we look at the best talents in F1, the drivers who were convincing from the start have now ended up with a top team.

After his debut year in F1, it was clear that Schumacher still had to get going, but even in his second year in the sport he is underperforming. He has had many mediocre weekends with a few highs in between, but actually just as many lows. Schumacher occasionally shows how good he can be, but that is not enough in the highest class of motorsport. If Haas is to progress further, the team will need a driver who can consistently perform well. Schumacher may be able to continue his brief improvement of the first half of the season after the summer break, but otherwise I don't think it would be wise for Haas to extend his contract beyond 2022. It's nice to see the iconic Schumacher name back in F1, but it won't be enough to keep his seat in a sport with few seats and lots of talented junior drivers. 

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