Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has revealed that Mick Schumacher was delighted when he was told he would be partnering Kevin Magnussen this season.
Schumacher was initially going to be paired with Nikita Mazepin for the second year running having out-qualified the Russian 20 times last year, but the 23-year-old was dropped amid his country’s war on Ukraine.
In Magnussen, the German has an established team-mate who has experience of racing alongside Jenson Button at McLaren, as well as Romain Grosjean in his first spell with the American side.
He also spent a year learning from Button and Fernando Alonso at the British team in 2015 when he was test and reserve driver before joining Renault, so the Dane is a much more realistic benchmark for Schumacher to aim at.
The 29-year-old has out-qualified the youngster nine times in 11 races so far this season, and it took the young German until the 10th round of this year to score his first points in F1.
After his eighth-placed finish in Silverstone though, he has looked an entirely different driver to the one that was heavily criticised having gone 31 race entries without scoring, and he has now out-performed the podium finisher at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix seven times in race trim in 2022.
It is fairly safe to say that the 23-year-old has learned a lot from his more experienced and proven team-mate this season.
“It’s the best thing that could have happened to him,” Steiner said in the Red Bulletin ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.
“He was very happy when I told him that we had signed Kevin, because Kevin is very collaborative, he looks after him, he tries to help him when he can, and he’s not trying to fight him,” he added, seemingly in a thinly veiled jibe at ex-Haas driver Nikita Mazepin.
“Mick is very lucky to have a team-mate like Kevin; he can learn from him as a person, as a driver and by looking at his data.
“Mick is in a much better spot than last year, having Kevin here, there is no negative… except having Kevin here!”
Steiner was vocal in his criticism of some of the mistakes Schumacher was making in the opening nine rounds of the season, particularly when it came to the huge shunts he suffered in Jeddah and Monaco.
The former of those incidents was so bad that the Banbury-based team exhausted their damage budget with less than two rounds of the season gone, so this year has certainly not been plain sailing for Schumacher.
Some might not like the way that Steiner has publicly addressed the German’s early performances, but that is not his problem.
“Look, I can’t just say: ‘Oh, it was great that he crashed into the wall’. Why? Because we didn’t score any points and he didn’t progress as a driver, it’s no good,” he added.
“I’m a little bit more outspoken than most people, a little bit more direct, but who cares?
“If you have a problem with that, then just don’t speak to me, there’s so much interest in what Mick is doing because of who he is (Michael Schumacher’s son), but to me he’s just like any other driver – it has to be that way.”
Schumacher has risen to 15th in the drivers’ Standings by virtue of the 12 points he has collected in the last two rounds, while Magnussen continues to run 11th, seven points adrift of 10th-placed Alonso.