Fellow F1 journalist Joe Saward (coffee shop Joe as we like to call him) says the pieces are falling into place for the Australian junior driver Oscar Piastri who is expected to join Williams or Haas, which would not be good news for Mick Schumacher and his stumbling Formula 1 career.
With only four races into the 2022 championship and there is already talk of silly season. While Ferrari recently confirmed Carlos Sainz for two more seasons, with the Spaniard ruling Schumacher out of a possible promotion to Ferrari (as if that was ever on the cards), the other Spanish driver in Formula One could also cause a headache for the Haas driver.
Fernando Alonso is close to re-signing with Alpine, closing the door on reserve driver Piastri who is expected to turn to Williams or Haas for a race seat in 2022.
Saward wrote in his latest column:
“All signs in the paddock are that Fernando will soon sign a new two-year contract with Alpine, which means he will stay until the end of 2024. After that, the French firm may want him to join its LMDh sports car programme. Fernando is smart and knows that dropping him would be a negative thing for Alpine.”
“But with Oscari Piastri behind the scenes, Fernando needs not only to perform but to be supported. He has just announced a personal sponsorship deal with Castrol, Alpine’s oil sponsor, which makes it harder for Alpine to let him go. A smart move.”
But with Esteban Ocon also staying on until the end of 2024, it means Alpine must find a racing seat for Piastri. Saward says Williams is the “obvious choice” as the team needs a “second driver stronger than Nicholas Latifi”, with the Canadian’s 2022 championship nothing short of a crash-fest of late.
The only problem is that Williams wants to “build its own team of drivers” and Piastri “doesn’t fit” that philosophy.
Saward adds that Williams “would do better to go for Nyck de Vries, a Mercedes Formula E champion, who is looking for things to do in the future as Mercedes will soon leave the all-electric series and sell its team to McLaren. De Vries has been a driver at McLaren and has been sacked by the current management in 2019 and so would prefer to look for a job in F1, if there are options available.”
Would Piastri be willing to join the Williams team, or would he prefer a seat at Haas?
With Williams struggling again, Saward says the reigning Formula 2 champion “might think a stopover at Haas would be a better option”, putting Schumacher in danger of losing his seat.
Although he beat Nikita Mazepin last season, the German is losing out to the returning Kevin Magnussen this year. The pundits all say he must show he can beat the Dane if he is to have a future at Ferrari.
Saward believes he must beat him if he wants to stay at Haas:
“He now has to prove he can play in the big leagues,” he said. “The only way to do that is to beat Kevin – and Magnussen still has to prepare himself before he reaches full speed, because he took his place at the last minute and wasn’t fit enough.”
“If Kevin shows Mick where to go this year, Ferrari could abandon the dream of “Schumacher II – The Sequel”