Mick Schumacher’s fate will be announced prior to the upcoming Brazilian Grand Prix, with Haas team principal Guenther Steiner having announced prior to an event in Las Vegas that the team are “getting closer” to their decision.
If Schumacher keeps his seat for 2023 and is offered a contract extension by the Americans, then it would come as a huge shock to ‘veteran’ Nico Hulkenberg, who is “optimistic” that he will be announced as a 2023 Haas driver.
The vacant seat at Haas has been between Schumacher and Hulkenberg for some time now, with the Americans hierarchy having to decide between youth, or experience.
Given how much criticism Schumacher has received only recently from Haas owner Gene Haas, it looks increasingly likely that the side are opting for the experience that Hulkenberg offers, despite the 35-year-old having not held a full-time seat since 2019.
A decision is expected in the next few days, as confirmed by Steiner himself.
“Hopefully, we can close it all off and make our decision in the next week,” Steiner said.
Despite having said multiple times that there was no rush to make a decision, the side are clearly increasing the pace on the process of confirming their second driver, with the season’s end just a fortnight away.
Steiner is looking to make a decision so that whoever they announce can take part in the post-Abu Dhabi test, where it’s likely Hulkenberg will be seen getting to grips with the VF22.
“We are getting closer because the season is almost over. It would be good if we get decided on a driver before we go testing. After Abu Dhabi there is a test and you want your driver in who is going to be racing next year,” he said.
Schumacher’s best bet at retaining his seat was to claim some points finishes; however, he hasn’t achieved that since the Austrian Grand Prix.
In fairness to the German, he was set for a top 10 in Singapore, before he was hit by George Russell.
Whilst it would be sad to see Schumacher depart the championship, its likely to not be a permanent goodbye, with the German tipped to sign for Audi in 2026.
Some have said that a strong result in the season’s climax could see Haas retain Schumacher; however, Steiner has revealed that “one race” can’t save him, with the team’s decision coming down to “what is best” for Haas.
“It is not about one race anymore,” the Haas boss added.
“I’m not a guy who says, ‘if you do one good race or one good test then you get a seat.’
“That would be too simplistic, that was maybe done 20-30 years ago, these days you have to see the big picture,” he said.
“The sport is getting more and more complex. You need to see what is best for the team, to take it forward, where do we want to be? What we want do?
“Then it’s a decision (about) is Mick experienced enough with two years under his belt to take the team forward? Or do we have to bring someone in who is more experienced, that is the big question,” he said.