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Why did Haas not renew with Mick Schumacher?

Published at :December 27, 2022 at 2:52 AM
Modified at :December 28, 2022 at 2:40 AM
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Chetan Anand

The team has officially announced Hulkenberg for 2023, leaving Mick Schumacher without a driving seat in F1.

Fair to say, the name Schumacher has a history in sports. The legacy was expected to continue when a certain Mick Schumacher clinched the Formula 2 title in 2020. But following the compared underperformance in 2022, he has been replaced by his 35-year-old compatriot Nico Hulkenberg. Being German and only 23, he will have his opportunities to get a place back in the starting grid. But for now, he will travel with Mercedes as the reserve driver.

Before the final race of the season, Haas announced that they have signed Nico Hulkenberg to race with Kevin Magnussen in 2023.

Underperformance in comparison to Magnussen

The final season standing said that Mick Schumacher hasn't even scored half of Magnussen this year. Securing his maiden F1 pole in Brazil, the Dane scored 25 opposed to the German's 12. Magnussen's F1 comeback was sterling as he racked up a good host of points in the opening two races. Whereas Mick scored his first points deep into the Silverstone. His Austrian GP weekend was also stellar. Both had a similar range of performances throughout the year. But when he actually started outperforming his teammate, the car wasn't up to the points. It was clear from the results that Haas wasn't as competitive as in the first half of the season. They scored only a total of three points post-summer break.

As the Haas management kept saying, Mick had his seat and Formula 1 future in his own hands. Team Principal Guenther Steiner said that the team's patience with him was one of the reasons why they were taking so long to announce next year's lineup.

It was reported from the paddock that Gene Haas had given him a certain objective to retain his seat. He was asked to deliver 'points' (emphasis on S) in the final three rounds. It was when his teammate grabbed the pole and he finished dead-last in Friday's qualifying that the game was set and done.

Wreckage Costs

Following his F2 triumph, the new-looking Haas signed him up alongside Russian pay driver Nikita Mazepin for the 2021 lineup. But the all-rookie lineup had a nowhere-competitive car and the team gave up early for the year. They shifted their focus to the new regulations in 2022. Even though Haas did not do as well as in previous years, what it did in 2022 was a major improvement in 2021.

"His Formula 1 future is still in his own hands. But he costs a fortune," said the team owner Gene Haas. In 2022 alone, he caused a total of 3 Million Euros due to his crashes. According to the German newspaper Bild, this was one of the reasons Haas considered a replacement for Schumacher.

He had a car-splitting crash in Monaco. He was out of the car all ok but it certainly took a hit of Haas' budget which is the smallest on the grid. As ESPN tweeted, the last time his car split into two cost 1 Million dollars. Referring to his crash earlier this year in the Saudi Arabia qualifying. He and his car missed the Grand Prix on Sunday.

Experience of Hulkenberg

Haas and Steiner prefer to experience. Team Principal Steiner has always emphasised the fact that he prefers to work with experienced players. In his recent Beyond the Grid podcast, he mentioned:

“We are the youngest team and the last two years we lost a little bit of our momentum when the pandemic came, and so on," he said. "So it’s [a question of] how can we bring the team back where we want it like in ’18 and maybe even ’19, which was better than the last two years? You know, Mick did a good job, but we needed to carry him, and we need somebody to carry us a little bit.

“We waited a long time because the decision wasn’t clear. The market went our way. Nobody really picked Hulkenberg up, so we waited a little bit longer than you do normally. But I think this is the best we can do for the team to move up again to where we want to be.” Steiner added.

Mick's pal Esteban Ocon had to follow a similar path when he had to spend a year in the garage after a two-year stint with Racing Point. He had to sit out for a whole different reason. Toto Wolff signed him up for the reserve role. He later signed for his home team Alpine. Similar things are expected for Schumacher when Audi will take over the signing process of Sauber in 2024.




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