After RTL’s claim that Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto is “not fully convinced” by Mick Schumacher, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has assured that his team are in full control of the German’s future with the team.
Schumacher followed in the footsteps of his father and seven-time champion Michael when he signed with the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) in 2019 while he was in Formula 2, and he has been part of their system ever since.
The 23-year-old made his Formula 1 debut at the start of last year when he signed with Haas alongside fellow rookie Nikita Mazepin, whom he out-qualified 20 times in 22 races.
He was set to race with the Russian this year too, but Mazepin was dismissed amid Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Instead, Schumacher was joined by the returning Kevin Magnussen, who leads the qualifying battle 11-2 over the opening 13 races of the 2022 season, and finds himself 10 points ahead in the Drivers’ Standings.
However, Schumacher has managed to finish ahead in race trim eight times, indicative that his performances, particularly recent ones, have been those of a solid and promising racing driver.
However, his early form in 2022 was starting to become an issue; the 2020 F2 champion did not score points until the British Grand Prix, and was involved in heavy, expensive crashes in Jeddah and Monaco.
There have been rumours that Schumacher is in danger of being replaced next year, as he is out of contract at the end of 2022.
He may well be one of the 14 drivers who has called Otmar Szafnauer regarding Fernando Alonso’s soon-to-be vacant seat at Alpine, but his future at Haas is yet to be decided.
When the decision is made, Steiner affirms that Ferrari will have nothing to do with it.
“No, we don’t have to wait to see what Ferrari say, we never decide the driver before the summer break and we will not do so this year,” he told Racer.
“Obviously I will start to speak with Gene [Haas] over the summer break and then you know how we do it.
“You will ask again at the next race in Europe and then we will tell you some time at the end of September or October what we are doing, and the same will be happening this year hopefully.”
Haas have a deal with Ferrari that necessitates one of their academy drivers to be put in the car, but it will be Haas who make the call as to which one it is.
“I don’t want to speak about our Ferrari deal because otherwise they get upset!” quipped Steiner.
“At the end of the day I don’t know the real deal between Ferrari and Mick, and I don’t need to know. If he decides to go somewhere else, I cannot change it.
“Only Gene and me are involved in that process.”
The American outfit signed Magnussen on a multi-year deal at the start of the season, and the Dane is 11th in the Drivers’ Standings having finished in the top 10 four times.
Steiner is happy to have the 29-year-old, with whom he has worked on and off for five years, sticking around.
“I’m very happy, at least it’s one headache less,” he stated.
“He’s doing a good job and he’s enjoying himself here — at least I think so!
“You’d have to ask him if he already regrets coming back but I don’t think so, I think he’s in a pretty good place.
“I don’t think he was expecting the car to be performing like it is, so for us to have him for next year is something less to think about.
“Let’s focus on getting everything ready for next year, but not on the driver.”
Haas are yet to run their first of the mandated two development drivers in practice sessions this season and, when they do, Ferrari junior Robert Shwartzman will likely be given a go with the team.