During the Formula One mini break due to the cancellation of the Russian GP, Mick Schumacher has been grabbing the headlines. He has no contract for 2023 and his team bosses latest comment on his chances of staying with Haas rate them at “50-50”. Mick has been backed by Ross Brawn who worked closely with his father for a decade, yet the former Ferrari chiefs observations were a back handed compliment at best.
“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,” said Brawn recently.
Alpha Tauri boss Franz Tost agrees young F1 drivers take time to mature these days given the technical nature of the cars.
“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,” Tost observed when announcing Tsunoda’s new deal for a third year with the junior Red Bull team
Yet Haas apparent indifference towards signing Schumacher for a third season does not bode well for the young German driver. Now Haas’ chief race engineer, Ayao Komatsu, has added to Mick’s problems when speaking this weekend to Germany’s Motorsport-Total.
Komatsu gives us a behind the scenes reveal on less than satisfactory events that unfolded during the Austrian GP.
During the Sprint race on the Saturday of the GP weekend, Mick found himself behind his team mate Kevin Magnussen. Schumacher believed he was quicker than the Dane and requested the team order Magnussen to let him through.
Schumacher missing the big picture
At the time Mick was defending fro a quick Lewis Hamilton and believed his team mate was compromising his position.
The team orders were not forthcoming.
Hamilton did pass Schumacher but finished the Sprint behind Magnussen which meant Mick lost the 1 point he was holding for position 8.
Having scored his first points in Formula One and received the paddock plaudits accordingly, Mick clearly feeling more confident from his Silverstone result went on the offensive with the press and criticised the lack of team orders in a coded fashion.
Haas team boss dismissed Schumacher’s apparent petulance stating:
“You know race car drivers, they’re all the same,” he added. “They always want to be in front of their team-mate. I always say you’re equals and the team decides what we’re going to do because the points are for the team.
“We need more points for the team to get into sixth hopefully, or fight at least for sixth. If we waste opportunities because you guys are fighting, it’s not good for the team and the only entitlement they have is to work for the team.”
Now Haas chief race engineer gives us further insight into what was going on with Mick and how his behaviour was “not right”.
Mick Schumacher unhappy with the team
Clearly the post race debrief was not a relaxed atmosphere.
“Mick was behind Kevin and that frustrated him,” Komatsu reveals.
“His focus in the sprint race wasn’t the right one. We talked about that afterwards. We talked before the sprint race about how we would do it as a team. But what he did after that wasn’t great. And what he said after that wasn’t great either.”
Schumacher raced his first season in F1 with another rookie but Haas believe he still has a lot to learn and can do so from his experienced team mate Magnussen.
“Sometimes Mick focuses too much on his team-mate,” Komatsu continues.
“Then I say to him ‘look, Kevin really likes to help you and he tells you things he would never have told Romain [Grosjean] before’.
“Then Mick thinks and realises the most important thing for the team is to get up in the Constructors’ Championship.
“I explain it to him: ‘Mick, come on, you’re doing well, focus on your own performance and not on this thing’. And then it’s fine again.
“It’s very good for Mick to have an established team-mate like Kevin. We didn’t know beforehand how good he is. Then Kevin came along and that gave us a reference. We think that with our 2021 car we would have been safe against Williams – we could have fought if we’d had Kevin back then. Mick would have benefited from that in his development.”
Schumacher mistake cost him 1 point
Of course during the Sprint, Schumacher was benefitting from the DRS he received from his team mate, which gave a false impression of his pace.
Mick defended from Hamilton for several laps before making a mistake which cost him a points finish.
Haas have been sending out mixed messages over whether they will resign Schumacher for 2023, but this latest reveal can’t improve his chances at all.
Conspiracy theorists would ponder whether Komatsu was sent by the team to deliver this insightful interview to manage expectations of their future lack of interest in resigning Mick Schumacher for 2023.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 26, 2022