Mick Schumacher is the Formula One story that just won’t go away. The son of the legendary F1 driver Michael, who set the bar being the first to rack up seven driver world championships, back racing in F1 is the romantic ending to the story for many given the sad demise of his dad during a Ski holiday.
Whilst Haas F1 offered Mick an opportunity to enter F1, the team was not in best shape when he arrived having run out of money and ditched their experienced drivers for two who could provide additional funds.
Haas cost Schumacher an F1 opportunity
Further, Gunther Steiner never wanted to blood rookie drivers in his F1 team knowing it would hamper the progress he envisioned for the future.
This was evident because as soon as the opportunity arrived for Steiner to ditch Nikita Mazepin he did so, following the invasion by his home country of Ukraine and the global sanctions which followed were the perfect excuse to pet company with Nikita and his billionaire Russian father.
Haas F1 brought back one of their previous drivers Kevin Magnussen who then provided a benchmark for how young Schumacher was progressing. And while things didn’t end well for Mick who struggled to match his experienced team mate throughout 2022, the points he scored in Austria and Silverstone provided hope he would someday return to the F1 grid.
Schumacher may well have retained his place in Formula One but for Haas messing him around until the final race of last season when they announced he wold be leaving the team. Williams at the time had a vacant slot having decided to part company with Nikolas Latifi.
Wolff snaps up Mick’s services
Yet with Mick’s future still in the balance at Haas, the outgoing Williams team boss announced with three races remaining that their new driver for 2023 would be American Logan Sargeant.
Having lost Nyck de Vries to Red Bull, Toto Wolff decided to replace his reserve driver with the now available Mick Schumacher. The Mercedes boss was quick to explain the reasons for this move.
“You can see his junior career track record was very good and I believe that if we can give him a safe environment to further develop, he can be a good racing driver in a permanent seat in the future.”
Whilst Toto didn’t expect Mick’s next opportunity to come with Mercedes, he was confident another opportunity for the young German would come sooner rather than later.
Mercedes believe Schumacher will move on
“In the same way we have let Nyck de Vries go in order for him to achieve a career, that could be something that could happen to Mick.”
Mercedes have repeatedly made positive noises over Mick Schumacher’s contribution this season. The W14 car has continued to be difficult to set up for Grand Prix race weekends and following Friday practice Mercedes have regularly been well off the pace of the leaders.
However, the former world champions have become the F1 bounce back kings with their performances on Saturday and Sunday regularly defying their Friday form.
Much of the credit for this repeated turnaround has been awarded to Mick Schumacher who works through the night back in Brackley to understand the W14 setup in the simulator and provide better options for the team before final practice on Saturday morning.
Mick ‘high praise’ for his setup work
Following Mercedes only double podium finish of the season in Barcelona, both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were highly positive over the role Mick Schumacher had played during the weekend.
“Friday was a real struggle with the balance, it was way out of the window,” Hamilton after the race. “It was very hard to drive, very unpredictable. And then we did some great work overnight.
“We’ve got a great team, with Mick back in the simulator on Friday night, and he did some great work, which helped us get on the right track on Saturday.”
Toto Wolff echoed these sentiments as he explained the impact of Mick Schumacher’s world for Mercedes.
Mercedes relationship with Williams strong
“In the simulator with his feedback, that is of tremendous advantage. At some of the European grands prix, having him on the sim overnight [on the Friday] and providing data for the Saturday is a super advantage for us.”
Having delivered again for Mercedes at the Canadian Grand Prix, Toto Wolff eulogised over Schumacher’s influence. “I think teams are missing out, to be honest. I think he was burned last year,” said the Mercedes boss.
Mercedes placed their young driver George Russell with customer team Williams to develop his skills before promoting him alongside Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff is piling the pressure on their team principal James Vowles to recruit Schumacher for 2024 as reported by Sport1 back in May.
Vowels who was senior Mercedes team member responded by applauding the job Sargeant was doing and claimed he would get better as the year progressed.
Sargeant almost certainly ‘finished’
Yet the American is now the only F1 driver who has started each Grand Prix weekend this year and is yet to score a point. His latest crash at the Zandvoort event then saw him hiding from his team at a marshal point for the remainder of the race rather than return to the pit lane to debrief the reasons for his driver error.
Meanwhile Sargeant’s team mate Alex Albon had qualified his car in fourth and poor team strategy saw him finish in just P8 when another couple of places was eminently possible.
Toto Wolff is now again cheerleading for Mick Schumacher’s return for F1 next year. When asked in Zandvoort whether Schumacher should replace the failing Logan Sargeant, Wolff dodged the question but once again reiterated his praise for Schumacher and emphasised he should be back on the grid next year.
“I think he deserves to be on the grid,” the Mercedes boss told assembled media continuing to outline Schumacher’s pedigree by adding, “If you win F3 and F2, there is high potential.”
Mick will stand in for Hamilton
Toto repeats his view that Mick’s time at Haas was more than unhelpful: “The moment you’re not feeling confident in a car over a prolonged period, the more pressure you put on yourself [to] perform – and this has happened at Haas.”
Wolff reveals he will have no hesitation of putting Mick in either Mercedes car should the opportunity present itself.
“And I’m glad we have a third driver that I know will do the job if one of ours eats a bad fish, but the contribution in the in the simulator is tremendous – and that makes us sometimes do these big jumps from Friday to Saturday because he’s driving socks off overnight.”
Schumacher set for Williams F1 return
With nine races to go this year, Logan Sargeant requires a miracle to save his seat at Williams and James Vowles will come under increasing pressure from the team’s investors to recruit a driver capable of contributing to the excellent work of Alex Albon.
Next time out is the Italian Grand Prix in Monza and the slippery low drag Williams car is expected to do well. This may be Sargeant’s last chance to impress before the fly away races to conclude the season begin with the trickiest of circuits in Singapore.
The paddock expectations now are that Schumacher will replace Sargeant for 2024 and with Toto Wolff continually backing his cause it will be hard for the Williams team boss to argue against.
Getting a split-second pit decision right can win you the race
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 28, 2023