A track limits violation cost Mick Schumacher a place in Q2 during the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix qualifying, and the German reveals how team boss Gunther Steiner reacted to the error that saw Mick lose an incredibly important and potentially career saving P6.
For Mick Schumacher, it could have been a victory. At least that’s what it looked like for a short time in Formula 1 qualifying for the 2022 Mexico Grand Prix when the Haas driver crossed the line in Q1 with a time of 1:19.695 minutes. But no sooner was Schumacher recorded in P6 with this time than the time disappeared again: track limits. Schumacher lost the lap and retired.
That was “a great pity”, said the German in an interview with Sky Sports Germany. He had already seen himself “around seventh, eighth place” and thus in Q2, “which would even have given us hope for Q3”.
But the fact that he was not in qualifying right after the first session was “frustrating, because the performance is there”, said Schumacher.
“I misjudged it…” blames bollard
However, he denies the accusation that he might have tried too hard in the first sector, taking too much kerb.
“The way the kerb is designed, it becomes easier for the car the more you go over it. And in my view, it was so the rear wheel would still have been on it.” But he had “probably misjudged a bit” admits the German.
“I took the bollard as a reference,” he explained, criticising the track design and the location of the corner bollard when he said, “If we have a bollard like that, it would be great, it’s in such a way that you can’t take a shortcut. That would then be a help for everyone.”
The general consensus is that by cutting the corner like Schumacher did, the advantage would be negligible.
How team boss Steiner reacts to Schumacher’s mistake
According to Schumacher, not in anger: “Well, he saw that I was fast and said it was a pity.”
Asked what this might mean for his contract situation at Haas, Schumacher said simply:
“The speed is there.”
However, a small criticism may be hidden in Steiner’s words, who goes on to say about Schumacher: “With this time, he would have easily finished in the top 10.” And: “The starting position before the race is disappointing”.
Words from a team boss who already knows that Mick Schumacher is very likely leaving the team, and probably Formula 1, due to lacklustre performances.
As a result, the Haas drivers Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen – the latter after being demoted by five places – are only 17th and 19th on the grid for the Mexico Grand Prix.
Mick blames other drivers on track
Schumacher did not manage to set a fast enough lap in his final attempt in Q1 to make it into Q2. He himself blames this on a less than optimal preparation for this last attempt, pointing the finger at other drivers.
“It was difficult either way,” says Schumacher. “But apart from that, the gentlemen’s agreement was not respected, by three or four cars. That was really stupid. Because at least that affected my preparation for the lap. I hadn’t warmed up the brakes as much as I should have. So that made turn one a question mark.”
Esteban Ocon in the Alpine and Lando Norris in the McLaren had overtaken Schumacher on the back straight, while still in the stadium area Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri also briefly passed Schumacher.
According to Steiner, however, it was not only these episodes that cost Schumacher. The repeated attempt to set a fast time on the same set of tyres simply didn’t work, “because the tyres didn’t allow it,” explained the team boss, but the remaining time in Q1 wasn’t enough for a tyre change.
According to Steiner, only Magnussen’s result was positive
Schumacher, eliminated in Q1 with a time of 1:20.419, the same time as Sebastian Vettel directly behind him. Magnussen, 0.126 seconds ahead, just managed to get further into Q2.
And that was “the good news” for Haas in Mexico, says Steiner: “We made it to Q2 here for the first time.” The demotion, however, makes this result “not so great” either.
Magnussen takes it in his stride: “Because of the penalty, qualifying didn’t really matter.”
In addition, a last-minute change of front and rear wing, as well as the floor before qualifying, had already ensured that the balance was “completely off” and required a correction.
“And now we have to see what else is possible from far back.”
Steiner is confident: “I think we should have a good pace in the race. So hopefully we can make up places, like we did in Austin.”
Schumacher thinks similarly and hopes for a “position from which we can score points”. Magnussen achieved the latter in Austin with P9, albeit starting from 13th on the grid.