Feature image: racefans.net
It is no secret that Haas F1 are in a tough spot at the moment. They’re coming off their worst performing season since the American constructor joined the grid in 2015 and their second driver has been in the midst of a lot of controversy on and off the track since his extremely questionable promotion into Formula One.
However, one of their more positive notes for the 2021 season is their addition of Mick Schumacher on the back of his Formula 2 championship winning campaign in 2020. Finally, a Schumacher is back in the sport in which his father had dominated for so long and he may be the key to saving Haas’ season before it has already begun.
As fans of the Formula One feeder series would know, Schumacher isn’t where he is because of his name. In fact, during his karting days he would race under his mother’s maiden name of ‘Mick Betsch’ to avoid the obvious attention he would likely attract.
The talent he shows on the track makes it clear that regardless of if he was a Schumacher or not, Mick would be in that Haas seat and his previous successes prove that. Being both a Formula 2 and Formula 3 champion, he puts himself in with a select group of Formula 1 drivers who share success in both, including seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton as well as Charles Leclerc and George Russell.
One thing that caught the eye of many during Mick’s championship winning season was his electrifying starts. He was by no means the fastest driving in the Saturday morning Qualifying sessions. The Formula One rookie averaged a starting grid position of only P8. With no pole positions to add to that, it meant he was only the sixth fastest on average when it came to the grid starting positions.
His first of two victories last season came at Monza, a track in which his father co-holds the record for race victories. Starting in P7, the German got an unbelievable start to put himself into P2 before they had reached the first chicane. Towards the end of the season in Bahrain, Mick went from P10 to P5 after only the first corner, a moment which put the championship in his grasp.
Looking through Mick’s past results, there is a lot of opportunity for him to build on them in Formula One and drive Haas’ season forward. At the third round of the 2020 season in Hungary, Schumacher was on the third step of the podium in both the Feature and Sprint race. The Hungaroring was also the same track he tasted victory for the first time in Formula 2 in 2019 and for the recent Formula 1 season, it was where the departing Kevin Magnussen picked up his first and only point in the Haas VF-20.
Now, obviously past victories and a few great starts here and there doesn’t mean that he’ll be competing for the title anytime soon. With these recent successes, it is also no secret that it can take the young German a bit of time to find his feet in a new series. It took him a second season in both Formula 2 and Formula 3 to take the crown, finishing 12th place in both of his first seasons and this has been noted by those watching him.
At a virtual press conference at the end of last season, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto expressed a bit of concern for Schumacher, stating “I think it will be very difficult for him at the start.”
The Scuderia team boss later added, “the way he has developed himself is learning a lot in the first season and becomes very strong in the second half of the second season. That’s why I think two seasons will be important for him.”
Being the latest product of the Ferrari Driver Academy, Binotto has high hopes that Mick will be able to prove himself enough to get drive at the Scuderia in the future, stating “today it is too early to decide but there are the premises to see Mick in red in 2023.”
With Haas F1 being a customer team for the Ferrari power unit, Schumacher’s presence at the team will more than likely help the relationship between Ferrari and Haas, similar to that of George Russell with Williams and Mercedes. This will benefit Haas tremendously as due to the disturbing actions of their other driver they have lost out on a sponsorship with Jack & Jones who pulled out of renegotiating another deal with the American team. If Schumacher can keep up the consistency he showed throughout his Formula 2 winning season, he can help Haas get back into the midfield fight that they have been missing from in recent years.
[This was originally posted in January 2021 on DriveTribe.com]