Michael Schumacher is considered one of – if not THE – greatest driver in Formula One history, but his son Mick is a different kettle of fish. After just 2 years in Formula One Mick is at a crossroads in his career with only a “50-50” chance of retaining his drive with Haas according to team boss Gunther Steiner.
Mick’s father Michael took an unusual route into Formula One only competing in junior single seater series Formula Ford and Formula Konig in Germany – winning the latter – before signing for Willi Webers F3 outfit at the age of 20. In his second season Michael won the championship.
However, during that season Michael joined the Mercedes junior driver programme and competed in the World Sportswear Championship. This was unusual for a driver of Formula One aspirations at the time because the natural stepping stone from F3 was into Formula 3000.
Michael took a different route into F1
Willi Weber believed Schumacher would benefit from driving fast cars very long distances together with the media exposure it would bring, rather than competing in F3000.
The same season Michael won the F3 title, he also won the final round of the Sportscar Championship in Mexico and was with in the drivers championship despite having competed in just 3 of the 9 races that season.
The following year in 1991, Michael continued with Sportscars and competed in Le Mans finishing 5th.
During the same year, Michael got his F1 debut with the Irish Jordon-Ford team driving car 32 as a replacement for the imprisoned Bertrand Gachot. As a contracted driver to Mercedes they paid team boss Eddie Jordon $150,000 to put Michael in the car.
Having impressed technical director Gary Anderson at a Silverstone test the week before, Schumacher learned the Spa circuit by cycling it on a fold up bike and then qualified the car P7. This was the equal best position a Jordan had started all season.
Michael was known in F3, Sportscars and his F1 debut to adapt quickly and be on the limit in no time.
The comparison to his son Mick is like chalk and cheese.
Despite winning F3 and F2 titles in his second season, Mick was a slow starter. In his first F2 season he won only one sprint race and finished the championship a distant 12th.
His title winning F2 year saw Mick win just 2 races from 24, but he was a model of consistency though not considered particularly quick.
F1 Haas crisis an opportunity for Mick
Haas were in financial crisis for 2021, so signed Mick Schumacher who brought considerable sponsorship money to the team. But the car was not particularly good and he battled most of the season with Russian team mate for either last or second last position in the F1 races.
For 2022, Haas resigned Kevin Magnussen alongside Mick and with the new car design regulation shakeup, Haas delivered some impressive early season results. Unfortunately for Mick it was his team mate scoring the points.
The young German finally broke his duck and scored points with an 8th placed finish at Silverstone following this up with a P6 at the next race in Austria.
Yet Kevin Magnussen has scored 22 of the teams points this year while Mich has just 12.
Speaking to F1 insider Ross Brawn who worked with Mick’s dad at Benton and Ferrari for almost a decade believes Mick is at a “crossroads”.
“Mick has improved enormously this year,” Brawn said.
“He has a really good reference in Magnussen as a teammate and he is now at an important crossroads in his career.
“In any case, he deserves to take the next step in his career. And by that he will be measured.”
Haas are currently evaluating their options for 2023 with Antonio Giovinazzi or possibly Daniel Ricciardo in the frame to replace Mick.
Brawn backs Mick
Despite the extreme differences between Mick’s progress and that of his father in Formula One, Brawn believes Mick deserves another chance.
“He’s different from his father, who was always immediately on the limit. Mick needs a little longer, but in the end he also won the titles in the junior classes,” says Brawn.
“He is very talented, has 100% inherited his father’s work ethic and is extremely capable of improvement. That is crucial.”
Of the available seats left to be determined for 2023, Alpine looks a long shot as does Alpha Tauri if Alpine secure the services of Pierre Gasly. This leaves Williams and Haas available to Mick with the latter presumably his best hope.
When discussing the future of Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauri boss Franz Tost commented:
“You can’t expect that a rookie knows everything from the very beginning onwards. That’s why I always say a young driver needs three years to understand this complicated Formula 1, because Formula 1 has become much more complicated than it was years before.”
Haas team owner Gene apparently calls the shots on driver contracts has been known to be less patient.
So despite being backed by one of the most successful Technical Directors F1 has ever seen, for now Mick’s future still hangs in the balance.
Pumped up by his best-ever finish at the time, P4! 💪@Carlossainz55 has had loads of success since 2017… but that first 'Boomshakalaka' will always have a special place 😜#SingaporeGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/Um8N8XhIcQ
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 25, 2022