Plenty has been made of Haas driver Mick Schumacher’s Formula 1 career so far, but with indications flying around that he might leave the team at the end of the season, is there a possibility that the American side might drop him?
Schumacher has now gone 29 races without scoring a point in the pinnacle of motorsport but, just as striking as that is the over $2 million of damage he has cost the team with various crashes since his arrival in 2021.
He has suffered two major accidents so far in 2022, the first arriving during qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, and the latest coming last weekend in Monaco.
In changing conditions, the German put a tyre on the wet stud through the swimming pool chicane, and that sent him head on into the barrier, before the car slid across into another wall, snapping the back of the car off.
Thankfully, he was unharmed, but the same cannot be said for his pride or the car itself, of which there are likely few usable parts left.
He received criticism from team principal Guenther Steiner after the race, and former Formula 1 driver Christian Danner warned that his compatriot has to get it together.
“He can keep up in terms of speed, but things can’t go on like this with the incidents,” he said.
“He’s causing millions in damage, and a team like Haas can spend that money more wisely.
“He needs to find the solution for himself – no advice would help him but he has to finish a race without incident. Gunther will be reading the riot act.”
Schumacher confirmed after the incident that he was okay, and explained how the incident came to happen.
“I’m feeling alright,” said the 23-year-old in the media pen.
“Obviously it’s very annoying.
“I think in terms of pace we were definitely there, it’s just a matter of keeping it on track and unfortunately I just wasn’t able to do that.
“The pace felt strong and it felt like we were able to attack and push. Unfortunately we just ended up being a bit too wide, maybe a matter of 10 centimetres at the end.
“That’s enough to lose all grip that you thought you had and unfortunately then the result is as it happened.”
As for his form, the 2020 Formula 2 champion is optimistic that he can find his feet and start scoring points along with team-mate Kevin Magnussen, who has now out-qualified him five times this year and has been in the points on three occasions.
“The season is still long – the tide can turn very quickly, I’ve shown what I can do before and I’m sure we’ll show it again this year,” added Schumacher.
He will need to find this form quickly if journalist Joe Saward’s suggestion is anything to go by, as he believes patience is “wearing thin for Haas and there is talk that it would probably like a different driver next year, although Ferrari does have a say in the matter.”
Former F2 driver Robert Shwartzman might be an obvious choice to replace Schumacher given the contract Haas have in place with Ferrari, dictating that they have to run a Ferrari junior in in return for engine supply.
There are further options though. F2 championship leader Felipe Drugovich, somewhat unbelievably, does not have any F1 affiliations at present, making him a very plausible option for Ferrari to approach.
Marc Armstrong has also impressed in the feeder series this year, and Callum Ilott has gained a lot of experience over in IndyCar.
Both of those drivers have left the Ferrari system in recent years, but there is every possibility that they might re-join given the potential of a seat in the pinnacle of motorsport opening up.
For Schumacher, an option might be Aston Martin as Sebastian Vettel continues to mull over his contract which expires at the end of this year.
The four-time champion is languishing on the fringes of the points in an underperforming car at present, and with Audi reportedly set to buy the British side by 2026, having a young German driver in their ranks would be ideal for their brand.
But Vettel remains full of belief that his good friend and compatriot can turn his form around; the media just need to “leave him alone for a bit.”
Further, AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost pointed at the young German’s junior career, during which he won 11 races in European Formula 3 and Formula 2, winning the title at the second bite of the cherry in both series.
The Austrian affirmed that this success “doesn’t happen by accident,” so warned that it would be ill-advised to write him off at this stage.
Schumacher is a level-headed driver who does not need anyone in the paddock or on the outside to tell him that his performances need to improve – he knows that.
Could he be released at the end of the year? The truth is that it is far too early to write off a driver of the calibre he has shown in recent seasons, so we will need to wait for some more races to unfold.
What can be said is that there has perhaps been a slight overreaction to his form given his run of not finishing in the top 10, but those results will eventually come.
The pace of the 23-year-old is undeniable, he simply needs to find some consistency and try to limit his mistakes, and he should be just fine.