Ex-Mercedes boss defends Mick Schumacher, tears into Haas for controversial decision

Antonio Giovinazzi will get two practice outings with Haas in 2022.

Former vice president of Mercedes Motorsport, Norbert Haug, disagrees with Haas’ decision to run Antonio Giovinazzi in practice sessions at the Italian and United States Grand Prix.

The former Alfa Romeo driver spent three seasons in Formula 1 with the Swiss team, having also taken part in a practice session with Haas at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2017, where he crashed.

Giovinazzi scored points nine times in 62 race starts with the team, which included two at the beginning of 2017 when he filled in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein.

Antonio Giovinazzi in Qatar, 2021 after being fired.v1

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At the end of last 2021, he moved over to Formula E to join the Dragon Penske team for season eight of the all-electric series.

Sadly, things did not work out as planned for the Italian in a woefully underperforming car and, despite glimpses of exceptional pace and race craft, he retired from eight of the 15 races he contested, and finished outside the points in the seven rounds he did finish.

To rub salt in the wound, he was unable to contest the final round of the season in South Korea after injuring his hand in a crash in the first of the two Seoul rounds.

Giovinazzi still has his role with Ferrari as test and reserve driver though, and he is performing those duties alongside Haas’ Mick Schumacher.

The German is trying to secure a contract for next season after a disappointing start to the season that saw him fail to score in the opening nine rounds.

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This was partly down to the fact that he suffered major incidents in Baku and Monaco, although it is likely that he would not have been able to score in Monte Carlo given the poor weekend Haas had suffered.

The 23-year-old’s team-mate, Kevin Magnussen, has scored points four times to Schumacher’s two, and the Dane leads by 10 points in the Drivers’ Standings.

Magnussen also leads the qualifying battle 11-2 heading into the final nine races of the season, but Schumacher’s form has been improving massively.

He has looked more competitive ever since Canada, and he scored points with fine performances in Silverstone and Spielberg, strengthening his chances of being given a new deal with the American side.

He will need to sit out at least one practice session though as he continues to find consistent form, and he will do so to make way for a driver who already has experience in F1.

This makes little sense to Haug who, despite appreciating the Ferrari links Giovinazzi has, believes the move is a disruptive one from Haas.

“Every kilometre a driver doesn’t get, doesn’t help him on the race weekend,” he told Sky Germany.

“I don’t know if there is possibly a contractual agreement with Ferrari, focusing on its own drivers is something a team like Haas would need.”

The German believes that his young compatriot has shown enough to convince Haas that he is worth a new contract, but he implores the team to show Schumacher more support.

“If I say on one side ‘I expect more points’, then a driver must also be able to say ‘I expect more practice’,” added Haug.

“He fought with [Sir] Lewis Hamilton in Austria, he was on a par with a seven-time World Champion. 

“Anyone who can do that is certainly not an untalented backseat driver, if you support a driver and give him the opportunities, then things will progress. 

READ: Guenther Steiner tells fans not to ‘judge’ Haas upgrades in Spa and Monza

“A driver is a racehorse, not a plough horse, you have to encourage him.”

The Belgian Grand Prix is of great significance to the Schumacher family, as it is where seven-time champion Michael made his debut with Jordan in 1991.

Mick won three Formula 3 races, including a feature race, at the iconic race track, scored podiums in Formula 2 during his title winning campaign in 2020.

As a result, Haug believes Schumacher will perform well this weekend. 

“Spa is one of his favourite circuits, he made big breakthroughs there in Formula 3 and Formula 2,” he explained.

“I have a lot of confidence in Mick.”

The 34 points scored by Schumacher and Magnussen this year have helped them to seventh place in the Constructors’ Standings after 13 rounds of the season.