Formula One’s “silly season” is coming to an end. We are awaiting confirmation Pierre Gasly will be released from his contract with Red Bull Racing to join Alpine and that Alpha tour will replace him with the ex Mercedes superstar junior Nyck de Vries. The only point of contention with the deal at present is the price Alpine must pay to release Gasly from his contract a year before it concludes.
This will leave just two seats available for 2023. Mick Schumacher is out of contract at Haas and Williams have already confirmed they will part company with Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi.
It appears Mick Schumacher has an option to join the Williams team as TJ13 reported yesterday, however, despite Haas team principal Gunther Steiner appearing luke warm in recent weeks when questioned about retaining the German driver – today in Japan he appears to have thrown Mick a lifeline.
Schumacher F1 drive assured
It could be the fact that Jost Capito of Williams being so effusive about Schumacher’s potential this has caused a rethink at Haas.
Haas F1 joined Formula One for the 2016 with a driver lineup that included the experienced Romain Grosjean and relative rookie Esteban Gutierrez. For a brand new F1 tram they finished the season a respectable 8th in the constructors’ championship, but decided to beef up their driver lineup for 2017.
Haas strengthened their driver pairing in 2017 by replacing Gutierrez with Keven Magnussen and this partnership saw the team through until the end of the 2020 season.
The 2018 F1 season saw Haas finish a remarkable 5th in the constructors’ championship though this high water mark occurred as financial concerns were appearing on the teams timeline.
Haas F1 worst season
For 2019 the team partnered with Rich Energy as their title sponsor, but the British energy drink company failed to live up to expectations over funding.
Struggling for funds ins 2020 Haas looked for fresh money for 2021 and so Grosjean and Magnussen were out.
Incoming was a Russian billionaire’s son Nikita Mazaepin together with Mick Schumacher and the Russian energy business Uralkali became the team’s title sponsor.
Haas then registered their worst constructers result in the 5 years since they joined F1. They were last in 2021 which took some doing. They scored no points and their best finish of the season was a P12 in a chaotic Hungarian GP.
Haas F1 realise their mistake
Given the late February invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Haas were again thrown into turmoil. They had ton ditch their title sponsor Uralkali and their Russian driver and made a last minute decision to bring back Kevin Magnussen.
Haas have clearly seen the error of their ways. By chasing money and rookie drivers the team had it’s worst season in the sport of F1 and bringing back an experienced driver like Magnussen for 2022 has paid dividends.
Clearly Mick Schumacher now has a mentor in Magnussen and a benchmark for his own performances. He scored his first F1 points at the British GP and followed this up a week later with an impressive P6 in Austria.
It appears Gene Haas has learned his lesson recruiting rookies with big cash backers given Gunther Steiner in Japan reveals the teams future recruitment strategy.
“I would say I’m done in the moment with rookies for the foreseeable future,”
“But I mean, we need to see what is best for the team or who’s the best person or who is the best driver to bring the team forward.”
This is a significant shift in Haas mentality from their approach to the 2021 season. As to who will fill the driver roster for 2023 Gunther is still keeping us guessing.
“Still thinking, you know, we want to take our time to make sure that next year at no stage we think ‘we did this too quick’ – because we don’t need to be in a hurry now,
“There is not a lot out there anymore on open seats and drivers. There’s not a lot of options, so we just want to make sure that we take the right decision and have no regrets next year.”
The reality is if Haas have had their fill of rookies, then three realistic options remain.
Firstly they could retain Mick Schumacher and given Williams boss Jost Capito appears ready in the wings his kudos has risen over recent weeks.
Ricciardo or Hulknberg for Haas 2023
No rookies means just Daniel Ricciardo or Nico Hülkenberg are Haas remaining options.
Ricciardo bizarrely believes a year out as Mercedes reserve driver is his best option and so this probably rules him out of the Haas seat for 2023.
For a midfield team Nico Hulkneberg will do a similar job as Kevin Magnussen. Score points when possible and probably outperform the car.
Yet Mick is now 2 years in and not a rookie, so Steiners’ statement may well see the door open for the young German to retain his drive at the American badged team for another year.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 6, 2022
Senna ’89 vs Vettel ’19 👀
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 6, 2022