Haas team principal Guenther Steiner is excited at the prospect of Mick Schumacher eventually driving for Ferrari, and believes that he can mirror George Russell’s accomplishments as a Mercedes junior.
Schumacher has been part of the Ferrari Driver Academy [FDA] since 2019, joining during his first Formula 2 campaign in which he ended the Drivers’ Championship 12th.
The German then claimed the title in 2020 with Prema, before being signed by Haas ahead of the 2021 season.
Schumacher was joined by fellow rookie Nikita Mazepin at the Banbury-based team last season, as the pair replaced experienced drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean who headed off to race in America.
The 22-year-old has now been signed as test and reserve driver for the Scuderia ahead of the 2022 season alongside former Formula 1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi and, since Haas are essentially a part of the Ferrari development programme, Steiner has previously revealed that he is more than happy for his driver to deputise should either Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz miss a race in 2022.
Steiner acknowledges that the Italian team’s supply of engines to Haas is of great benefit to the team, and will gladly give back if Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto asks him to.
“When Mattia asked me if that is possible, I said, ‘Yeah, sure. It’s possible,'” Steiner told RacingNews365.com.
“In the end, he is an FDA driver, so why would that not be possible? I think it’s a good thing for Mick, because he was supported [for a] long time by Ferrari.
“Now Ferrari needs something back, and obviously Ferrari helps us so, in the end, it was just like we did it as partners: ‘Yeah, that will work’.”
Brazilian driver Pietro Fittipaldi stepped in for the injured Grosjean during the final two rounds of the 2020 season following the Frenchman’s horrific Bahrain crash, and Steiner says that any temporary departure of Schumacher will give the 25-year-old another shot.
“We have got Pietro. Pietro was happy, because it’s another opportunity for him, if Mick has to be the reserve driver for somebody else! So I think, in the end, I didn’t have an issue,” he explained.
The 56-year-old is not sure if Schumacher will eventually follow in his father’s footsteps in joining the Maranello squad, but reckons that he is developing nicely towards it.
“I think, if he makes it to Ferrari – which I don’t know, because I cannot decide that one – it’s already a good way into it,” he explained.
“Because he has to do some things already how they want them to do, for sure. They will make a seat for him, they will make all this, and he gets to learn [about] the people there, if one day he will be driving for them.
“So, I think there [are] no negatives for anybody. I think that it’s almost only positive for everybody.”
If either Sainz or Leclerc were to miss a race in 2022, the former Red Bull technical operations officer was asked if the Switzerland-born racer is ready to jump into the role.
“I would say so,” he responded.
“This guy, now he has done one year in a Haas. He finds his way around pretty well. He knows the people at Ferrari.”
George Russell became part of the Mercedes junior programme in 2017 before his Formula 2 championship success a year later.
During his Williams years between 2019 and 2021, the 23-year-old was required to replace Sir Lewis Hamilton at the senior team when the seven-time world champion came down with COVID-19.
The Briton performed exceptionally during the Sakhir Grand Prix and victory seemingly awaited him, but for a botched pit stop and a slow puncture sending him down to ninth.
However, he turned many heads during his one-off appearance and has now been signed to the Brackey-based squad to replace the departing Valtteri Bottas for the upcoming season.
Steiner believes that Schumacher can achieve “something similar” with Ferrari.
“How good of a job he does when he’s in a Ferrari? I don’t know. But look at when George Russell jumped into the Mercedes [in his second year in F1]. It’s the same thing, and George did a fantastic job.
“But I think Mick can do something similar if he’s given the opportunity.”
The 22-year-old partnered fellow rookie Nikita Mazepin last year and, after a rocky relationship at the team, Steiner compared running two inexperienced drivers at his team to “having children.”
Both have been retained for the 2022 season, which starts on 20 March in Bahrain.