Haas’ decision to put their trust in high-potential young drivers has now come to an end, with both Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher both having departed the team since their appointments in 2021.
Signing young drivers was a decision made by Haas in an effort to save money ahead of 2022’s major regulation changes, but regular crashes by both drivers made them too costly to the team to be worth keeping.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine saw Mazepin replaced by Kevin Magnussen before the start of the 2022 season and Schumacher’s inconsistent performances have now seen him replaced by 35-year-old Nico Hulkenberg, who had been serving as Aston Martin’s reserve driver.
This move was met by controversy, as the decision to swap a high potential 23-year-old for a 35-year-old who has not had a full-time race seat since his days at Renault baffled fans.
Hulkenberg has now suggested that the writing was on the wall for Schumacher at Haas, also explaining that he has a very limited friendship with his younger countryman.
“We haven’t spoken to each other since. We never really exchanged ideas before,” Hulkenberg told RTL.
“Mick is also a different generation. We never had a real relationship, something like he has with Sebastian Vettel.
“The story is now what it is. If it hadn’t been me, maybe it would have been someone else. F1 is about performance. If you convince and perform, you have a job, you are hot stock. If there is no performance, then it’s over very quickly.”
Hulkenberg has previously explained that his talks with Haas initially begun over the summer break, however the team eventually decided to give Schumacher more time to prove himself before finally announcing the switch prior to the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
While Hulkenberg takes over at Haas, Schumacher will spend the 2023 season with Mercedes, serving as the team’s third driver.
The opportunity to learn from the likes of Lewis Hamilton and be a part of one of F1’s biggest and most successful organisations will be hugely beneficial to the young German, as he looks to return to the grid in 2024 should an opportunity arise.
The 23-year-old is reportedly on Audi’s radar ahead of their takeover of Sauber in 2026, as a German drive would be a huge attraction for potential sponsors of the German car manufacturer.