Good news for German Formula 1 fans: The chances that Mick Schumacher or Nico Hülkenberg will be in the Haas in 2023 are increasing
The chances that at least one German driver will be on the grid in Formula 1 in 2023 are increasing. And Schumacher probably has it in his own hands to punch the ticket for himself
Team boss Günther Steiner and team owner Gene Haas stick to the announcement of the past weeks: “We are not under pressure. We want to make the right decision and we’re taking the time we need to do that.” To see, for example, even on a demanding street circuit like Singapore, to what extent Schumacher has developed since the start of the season.
“That’s one of the things you want to look at, of course: how does Mick do in the next races?” explains Steiner. Because from his point of view, it’s a matter of assessing whether the upward trend Schumacher has been showing for a few weeks now corresponds to the pattern familiar from Formula 3 and Formula 2, that he simply needs a little longer to master a racing series.
“He was much better in the second part of the season than in the first,” Steiner notes. “I don’t know if that means history repeats itself. But we still have a few races to make sure.” If Schumacher performs consistently well after a year and a half, as he did in the junior series, then his chances for 2023 are very good.
Steiner praises: Monza was a good race!
Possibly there is also a human gap to be bridged. That the atmosphere between Steiner and Schumacher’s entourage in 2022 was not always positive could be read between the lines several times. Most recently, chief race engineer Ayao Komatsu hinted that Haas was not happy about Schumacher’s behaviour in Spielberg.
But the team is trying to create a good atmosphere. Steiner has always emphasised that he never had a problem with Schumacher himself. And in the meantime, the team boss is not above praising Schumacher’s performance publicly: “Monza, I would say, was good,” says Steiner, for example.
“I know what the car can do and what it can’t do. And he drove a good race. Qualifying was difficult for him because we had so many problems. He didn’t drive the first practice because of Giovinazzi, in the second we had a problem with the electronics, in the third with the clutch. So you can’t count the qualifying. But the race he did well. “
Magnussen gets into trouble explaining
Slowly, the internal team dynamic at Haas is also changing. Kevin Magnussen was the perceived number 1 in the team after his outstanding fifth place at the season opener in Bahrain. But for some weeks now it has been dawning on the engineers that Schumacher’s potential could be greater than the Dane’s in the long run.
Magnussen seems to sense this. He gets into trouble explaining when asked about his recent performances: “It was difficult for me because we changed engineers so often. That’s when I lost my way a bit,” he says. In Singapore, he is working for the first time with Mark Slade, Kimi Raikkonen’s long-time race engineer.
Magnussen hopes for more staff consistency
“Sometimes,” Magnussen admits, “I tried set-ups that were maybe not strictly scientific, but more from the gut. But that’s not how you work in Formula 1 nowadays. It’s difficult when the engineer keeps changing. Maybe I have to take a step back now. “
In concrete terms, that means: “Trying it again like at the beginning of the season, just starting all over again,” says the 30-year-old. “I’m working with Mark now, then with Dom again in Japan, with Mark again in the US. There’s no peace in it. Hopefully we’ll get that in and I can work with Mark and then start well next year.”
As for who his teammate will be in 2023, Magnussen insists he doesn’t care: “I like Mick. I think he is a good driver and I think he has improved tremendously this year. He didn’t have the best start to the season, but he has really picked up and done a great job in the last couple of races. Especially in the races on Sunday. “
Haas in Singapore: Better than Spa and Monza?
As for Singapore, Magnussen expects an improvement on the high-speed races at Spa and Monza, where Haas was not competitive. Top speed is not the team’s forte, twisty tracks are. That would naturally suit Schumacher, who wants to recommend himself for 2023.
Magnussen predicts: “It’s definitely the case that low-downforce tracks don’t necessarily suit us. Medium and high downforce tracks are certainly where we are best. But we don’t have any guarantees there,” he says and adds: “But it’s true: in theory, Singapore should be better for us. “