Ralf Schumacher laments the significant damage done to Mick’s car in Jeddah last weekend, but is simply glad to see that his nephew walked away unharmed.
Schumacher suffered an almighty shunt during qualifying for the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as he tried to push to get his Haas into the third and final qualifying session.
However, as we had seen numerous times in Formula 2 that weekend, he got caught out by the raised kerb at Turn 11 and span into the barrier at 170mph.
The car bounced down beyond Turn 12, and there was immediate concern for the wellbeing of the German.
Thankfully, he walked away unscathed and said on race day that he would have been fine to race physically but his car had sustained too much damage, ruling him out of the running.
The 23-year-old is not the first young driver to suffer a big crash early on in his career. Sir Lewis Hamilton slammed into the barrier at the Nürburgring after a puncture in 2007, Max Verstappen was involved in a nasty collision in Monaco in 2015, and Mark Webber will have a great number of stories to tell of his close calls in racing.
Ralf Schumacher, who win six races in his own F1 career, acknowledges that Mick has now experienced his first big crash, and hopes he will learn from it.
“Mick’s crash looked very dramatic, but every driver ticks off this type of accident very quickly,” he told Speedweek.
“It was obvious that things didn’t end so badly for him, he’s also super fit. It is more about dented pride because he was on a fast lap and made a mistake.”
The teams are working with a $140 million budget cap this season, with the limit decreasing by $5 million from 2021.
They therefore have to be slightly more circumspect with the money and resources that they throw at the car, and the 46-year-old also indicated that they simply would not have had enough parts available to them for the Australian Grand Prix next weekend had they patched everything up ahead of the race.
“The team had to make a decision so there would be enough parts for the next race in Melbourne. Haas couldn’t take the risk of another crash otherwise they might not have been able to compete in Melbourne,” he confirmed.
The former Jordan, Williams and Toyota driver notes that missing a race will be detrimental to Mick’s experience, but he expressed his relief that he walked away from the accident unharmed.
“Of course, the risk after a crash like this is higher,” he stated.
“But the real problem for Mick is that now he’s missing one race of experience. The error had very strong consequences, very annoying. The most important thing, of course, is that nothing happened to him.”
Ferrari have developed a strong power unit this year and, and as a result, all customer teams of the Scuderia have looked rapid so far this campaign.
As a result, Kevin Magnussen was able to power past Hamilton in the closing stages of the race in Jeddah, and Schumacher is glad to see the Banbury squad back on the right course after a painful last couple of years that had yielded just two points finishes – both of them in 2020.
They spent much of last year developing for the new technical regulations introduced this season, and it appears to have paid off.
“Their car turned out very well this year. Last year nobody wanted a Ferrari engine and now it’s one of the most powerful engines in the field,” he explained.
Magnussen scored 21 points finishes in four seasons with Haas in his second spell in the pinnacle of motorsport, and Schumacher divulges that the Dane has always been an exceptional racer, but concedes that he was perhaps a touch aggressive before his return to F1 this year amid the sacking of Nikita Mazepin.
“Kevin has always been a huge talent, even during the Haas years. But then the team development went in the wrong direction,” he added.
“We’re seeing that now with Hamilton too, when things don’t go so well with the car, even he will only start from P16. That’s what happened to Magnussen for a long time in his career.
“In addition, he tended to make a lot of mistakes and aggressive overtaking manoeuvres that didn’t work. Now he drives much smarter. At first, I wasn’t so convinced of his return to Formula 1, but Gene Haas and the team made a very good decision, as it now shows.”
Schumacher out-qualified Mazepin 20 times last year and out-raced him on 16 occasions. The Russian was primarily in the team due to the money provided to the American racing outfit by his father, but Ralf is glad to see that his nephew now has a representative benchmark.
“What Mick can learn from Magnussen? To even further find his limit. He can certainly learn about dealing with the team dynamic and definitely also in terms of pure speed,” he said.
“Mick was on par or even faster than Magnussen until his accident; what would have happened next? We don’t know. But Magnussen is a different prospect to Nikita Mazepin, Mick has to keep up and be faster in the end.
“He is in the second year of his Formula 1 career, he can still learn a lot.”
Magnussen has scored points in both of the opening two rounds of this season, while Schumacher is yet to get off the mark in 2022.