The 23-year-old has only known for a few days that Mick Schumacher will have to put his Formula 1 career on hold. However, the Haas team had been toying with the idea of parting ways with the German for several months after the team admits it didn’t trust Schumacher’s abilities for F1. At the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Schumacher’s successor, Nico Hülkenberg, of all people, spilled the beans.
Only team boss Günther Steiner and owner Gene Haas know exactly when Mick Schumacher’s departure from Team Haas was decided. In the past, both have always said that they gave the 23-year-old further chances to save his cockpit. Yet it seems patently obvious that the team had significant distrust of the German’s abilities behind the wheel for most of this year.
Although this account of ‘giving Mick a chance’ corresponds to the facts, behind the scenes those responsible had been working on a plan B for quite some time. More or less involuntarily, Schumacher’s successor, Nico Hülkenberg, of all people, revealed this on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
Mick was out of Haas in the summer
When asked how his collaboration with Haas came about, the man from Emmerich answered in a Sky interview:
“It came about after the summer, during the summer break. But that was then bit by bit.” In other words, Haas was already sounding out the market for a possible Schumacher successor in the summer.
At the same time, however, Hülkenberg also confirmed the account of those responsible for the team, who wanted to continue to give Schumacher the opportunity to recommend himself for a contract extension.
“Mick then suddenly performed better and was given time. And it all took longer and longer,” Hülkenberg gave a glimpse behind the scenes.
However, the deadline for Mick Schumacher did not really run until the penultimate race of the season. At least Hülkenberg explained that he had been “quite optimistic” about his contract with the US racing team over the last two months. But the 35-year-old added that he had never been really sure.
“Because now it went down to the wire and it was also only bagged a few days ago.”
Hülkenberg no longer believed in F1 return
Before the Haas managers contacted Hülkenberg, the German had more or less already closed the chapter on Formula 1.
“In the summer, I thought it was more likely that it wouldn’t work out than that it would,” said the veteran, who was therefore able to approach the subject “quite relaxed”.
Now, however, he is “of course happy” and looking forward to getting back into the car.
“This will be another more intensive year. Being third driver is more chilling. You don’t sit in the hot seat and have the pressure to perform. But I’ve had the break now and I’ve felt that I don’t want to close the book quite yet,” explained “Hulk”, who will already be behind the wheel in the coming weeks for the tests for his new team.