The final unconfirmed seat on the grid is always a sought after prize, with this year’s spotlight being on young Mick Schumacher’s seat at Haas.
Team owner Gene Haas has been very vocal on the German’s performance this season, claiming in an interview at a NASCAR event earlier this month that Schumacher costs the team too much in damages to the car to be affordable.
Guenther Steiner has been slightly more sympathetic, suggesting that Schumacher clearly has the pace, but Formula 1 is a results business so if he fails to bring home a strong haul of points before the end of the season the team might have to look elsewhere for 2023.
The Haas driver looked quick in qualifying, with many tipping him early on to have a strong weekend in Mexico, however after cutting a corner in Q1 the 23-year-old saw himself knocked out without ever being able to show his true pace.
Schumacher comes from a rich line of drivers, with his record breaking father Michael not being the only other F1 driver in the family; his uncle Ralf also raced in the sport, and he has expressed his frustration at Mick’s Q1 error.
“I have to agree with Mick that he has the pace, but such mistakes shouldn’t happen,” he said to Sky Germany.
“It even happened to Hamilton, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. It’s a learning process but he has to be learning quickly.
“He was in a different world compared to his teammate [Kevin Magnussen], but that alone makes it more difficult for the team to make a decision.
“The team is relying on him, especially his pace,” he concluded.
Sadly for the German it seems the writing is on the wall for him to leave the team after Abu Dhabi, with even Ralf Schumacher admitting that Haas appear to have made their mind up already, with Nico Hulkenberg reportedly stepping up his training plan in anticipation of a return to the grid.
The 23-year-old will curse his luck, with a mistake in Mexico costing him a strong qualifying, and damage in Austin seeing him drop out of the points position as his car performance deteriorated.