Written By Juan Arroyo. Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
Mick Schumacher’s second season in Formula 1 has been underwhelming by most counts. Having secured a spot at Haas last season, thanks to his links to the Ferrari Driver Academy, the German crushed teammate Nikita Mazepin and was expected to take that run of form into this season. But so far, he’s had to play understudy to his new teammate Kevin Magnussen, and the 23-year-old is reportedly being shown the door at the end of the season.
It’s been widely accepted around the paddock that Schumacher won’t be returning to Haas next year; Guenther Steiner has repeatedly stressed about the choice being Ferrari’s to make, although Haas gets the final word. Some would label this as unfair considering his run of form over the last few races. It’s also worth mentioning the fact he’s also a Formula 2 champion. Of course, none of what you did in Junior Formulae matters if you can’t translate that into the big leagues, but it’s unreasonable to dismiss a driver with a curriculum as good as his, over one low-key period.
Over the course of his career, Schumacher has built a reputation for being a diamond in his sophomore season, almost always coming back to win a series after struggling in his first year. This trend followed the former Prema driver throughout his junior career all the way up to Formula 2. Expectations were reasonably high going into 2022 for this reason, but this flower hasn’t bloomed as quickly as people hoped, and time is running out for him to secure a seat on next year’s grid.
The 23-year old is also parting ways with Ferrari at the end of the year, which will mean no more ties at Maranello, during times when it is crucial for drivers to have factory backing. Almost every driver coming into the world of Formula 1 nowadays is part of a driver academy. Without such backing, it’s near impossible to find a seat on the grid. Even then, you might still lose out to someone paying the big bucks; just ask Oscar Piastri or Nyck de Vries.
But it is Schumacher who has to make this bold move in order to save his career. Ferrari has partial control over who drives for Haas, and frequently uses the American team as a testing ground for their academy drivers. Support for Mick from the Ferrari camp has diminished in recent times, and with the likes of Antonio Giovinazzi and even Nico Hulkenberg said to be replacing the German, the latter now finds himself scrambling to find a seat.
Although Ferrari has a seat available at Haas for their junior drivers, Guenther Steiner still has the final say in who gets to drive. Schumacher still holds hope thanks to the faith put in him by the American team, but he’ll have to pay that faith forward with strong results in the upcoming rounds, in order to boost his chances of staying. Haas will be happy to retain him, should he achieve points finishes again before the end of the year.
Alpine looks the most realistic alternative for Schumacher. The French team recently lost Alonso and Piastri in a contractual blunder, so there is a position yet to fill there. Esteban Ocon has openly admitted to wanting Schumacher as a teammate in 2023, although team bosses would likely be inclined towards signing Daniel Ricciardo, should the Aussie choose to return to the Enstone-based team.
Williams, although a realistic option, looks a hard bet. No one knows for sure if Latifi is leaving at the end of the year. Should that be the case, Mercedes are likely to lobby for Nyck de Vries to get that seat. Considering Mercedes supplies Williams with engines, it’s hard to imagine Schumacher will get picked over De Vries, who further staked his claim after a one-off appearance and points finish in Monza.
Hence, it can clearly be seen that the future of Mick Schumacher clearly depends on how Formula One’s ubiquitous silly season plays out. Although there are still a number of seats yet to be filled, there are candidates aplenty, and Schumacher will need to put in strong performances, in order to convince a team to sign him for the 2023 Formula 1 season.