To the disappointment of thousands of Mick Schumacher fans, it is looking all but certain that the young German will be dropped by Haas when his contract expires at the end of the year, with an announcement confirming Nico Hulkenberg rumoured to be taking place before Saturday.
2022 really hasn’t been the best of years for the 23-year-old, who came into his sophomore F1 season on the back of a solid rookie year, where he over-achieved in one of the worst F1 cars in modern history.
The VF-21 was truly tragic, as a result of the side carrying their 2020 design into 2021 to fully focus on preparing for this year’s new aerodynamic regulations.
At the start of the year, it appeared their strategy had worked a treat, as Kevin Magnussen finished sixth at the season opener; however, it soon went rapidly downhill.
Two big crashes for Schumacher at Saudi Arabia and Monaco left a huge repair bill for the Americans, who are under-financed as it is compared to the rest of the paddock.
The German never really bounced back from that, although, it had appeared that he turned a corner at Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring following back-to-back points finishes.
Haas’ first upgrade of the year in Hungary somewhat put the team further down the order, with Magnussen’s recent points finish at the Circuit of the Americas having been the team’s first since Austria.
Despite this, Schumacher has been the better driver in the second half of the season but has usually been caught out by a poor strategy another driver’s error.
Haas boss Guenther Steiner had recently said that the German had a “50/50 chance” of being retained; however, the odds are looking increasingly against him.
It has been noted that by signing Hulkenberg, who is 35 years old and hasn’t occupied a full-time seat since 2019, the side are choosing experience over youth.
Former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone thinks the side are in fact choosing between “mental state”, not age.
“It’s not about age, but mental state,” Ecclestone said.
“Look at Juan-Manuel Fangio – he started at an age when everyone stopped long ago.”
Ecclestone is all but certain that the son of Michael Schumacher won’t be in F1 next season and has even suggested that he should “forget F1”.
F1’s former supremo has tipped Schumacher to claim glory in another category, where he ultimately doesn’t have to live up to what is perhaps the most famous name in motorsport.
“I don’t think he will be there,” admitted the former F1 CEO.
“People were disappointed with his performance.
“We don’t know whether it was because of him or the team, but of course it’s difficult to find someone to put him on a winning team. Because he’s not in one at the moment.
“Maybe he needs to forget F1 and focus on the other motorsport categories. His name is his biggest burden, but he tries to live up to it as best he can. And that’s what gets him into all his troubles.
“Therefore, forget it and win in another category,” Ecclestone added.
Others have questioned if the driver is being managed correctly, with his management team being led by his father’s former manager Sabine Kehm.
Ecclestone doesn’t think there is an issue with how he’s being managed, due to predicting the number 47 as being someone who likes to be surrounded by people.
“Travel with them, talk to them when they’re down. I think he wants a person like that,” he said.
“But some don’t need it. If you threw Verstappen into the sea, he would survive even if he couldn’t swim.”