Mick Schumacher, son of legendary Formula One driver Michael Schumacher has been the subject of much debate and speculation over the last 12 months, with many asking does he deserve an F1 seat?
He has recently joined the Mercedes team as a reserve driver for the 2023 season and while this will be an ideal learning situation, it is suboptimal in terms of gaining on-track experience.
Let’s look at Mick Schumacher in a bit more detail and discover if he should have an F1 seat in 2024.
Being the Son of Michael Schumacher
It is impossible to look beyond the fact Mick Schumacher is the son of 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher.
This has both advantages and disadvantages for the young driver. The main disadvantages are:
- There are going to be comparisons drawn with high expectations of Mick to hit the ground running,
- Failures will be scrutinised more heavily compared to other rookie drivers.
Mick Schumacher has a number of advantages being Michael’s son:
- He has a name that carries weight with sponsors, teams, and the sport overall,
- Mick Schumacher has a Formula One experienced management team behind him,
- He will be given opportunities other rookie drivers might not have.
How Did Mick Schumacher Achieved Before Formula One?
To his credit, Mick hasn’t rested on his family name to get a seat in Formula One. In a sport with plenty of paid drivers, he hasn’t bought his seat at a team despite having more than enough money to do so.
For example, at the end of the 2022 season it became clear he wasn’t going to have his seat at Haas renewed. He could have paid for a seat at a team like Williams and been racing in 2023 with no problems at all.
Before Formula One, Mick carried the same mentality and chose to work his way up through the rankings in F3 and F2.
After a reasonably successful karting career (where he refused to use the Schumacher name) Mick joined Formula 4, competing in the Italian F4 Championship and ADAC Formula 4 Championship.
He did this so he could progress through to the Ferrari Driver’s Academy and finished 2nd in both competitions.
Finishing 2nd in two Formula 4 championships enabled him to progress to Formula 3 where he initially struggled and finished 12th in the 2017 Formula 3 Championship.
The next year he had become accustomed to the new cars and championship and won the 2018 Formula 3 Championship. This is a pattern Mick seems to follow, initially struggling to adapt before figuring everything out and excelling.
Formula 2 followed the same pattern as Formula 3 and his first season in the category was underwhelming with a 12th place finish.
His second season, once again he developed and finished first in the Formula 2 Championship. It is worth noting, Mick’s team was Prema Racing throughout his Formula 3 and Formula 2 career, so it wasn’t a matter of him getting into a better car and winning.
Mick is clearly a driver who needs to familiarise himself with a championship before achieving great results.
Moving to Formula One
Ferrari decided to continue Mick’s Driver Academy contract and move him to the Haas F1 team, a feeder team to Ferrari alongside Alfa Romeo.
In hindsight, this was a bad choice for Mick, as Haas would prove to be a fruitless experience and Ferrari would mismanage his time in F1.
Mick Schumacher at Haas 2021
The Haas car for the 2021 season was frankly shocking. They had accepted a pay drive from Nikita Mazepin in order to secure funding and build a more competitive car for future seasons, but this didn’t help in the 2021 season.
Mick consistently outperformed Nikita Mazepin, but this was to be expected. Most paid drivers are not good drivers – otherwise they would be able to get into the sport on merit.
Haas and Mick Schumacher in 2022
The 2022 season had more promise than the 2021 season as Haas turned up with a car that could compete among the midfield on certain tracks.
Nikita Mazepin had been replaced by Kevin Magnussen, a Formula One veteran who many felt had no way back into the sport.
Magnussen made the most of this new opportunity and did well initially, securing points and providing competition for Mick.
Mick struggled initially, and I think this is for a number of reasons:
- Mick was used to being the preferred driver, so when Magnussen took the number 1 seat, he didn’t adapt well.
- Magnussen performed well from the get go and Mick hadn’t yet got used to the new car.
Uneasy Relationship with Haas
There are a few factors Mick Schumacher is responsible for in the deterioration with the Haas team:
- Two crashes that cost the team a lot of money,
- Not scoring points early in the season.
With that said, these two problems would not have been a problem with most other teams. If Mick Schumacher had crashed in any other Formula One team, they would have put him in the reserve car, and he would carry on the race weekend.
Haas had no reserve car. The team is so cash strapped they turned up with a nuts and bolts outfit each weekend.
Equally, not scoring points early in the season isn’t the be all and end all, as long as the team supports the driver in point scoring opportunities and performs consistently over the season.
With Haas, this did not happen, and they let Mick Schumacher down badly.
How Haas are to Blame for Mick’s Poor 2022 Season
The biggest failing of Haas was to crack under pressure. Instead of supporting their rookie driver, they put him under extreme pressure.
A team publicly criticising a driver of any level is generally a bad thing to do. If the likes of Max Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton were heavily criticised by their team, it would not make for a happy driver. Haas were always extremely critical in public about Mick Schumacher, and many forget he is a rookie driver.
This was unforgivable on the part of Haas and specifically Gunter Steiner.
Team Strategy Was Poor
Mick qualified reasonably well throughout the season, putting his car further up the grid than it should have been given performance.
Each time he did this, race strategy on the part of the team had a distinctly ‘Ferrari’ feel and the car would go from a great starting position to dropping significantly after the first pitstop.
There were also instances where Haas simply hadn’t factored a strategy in for Mick and this came to bear when Mick should have been protected to score points in a sprint race. All Haas needed to do was ask Kevin to maintain a pace where Mick could stay in DRS range so the much faster Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton couldn’t overtake.
Mick expressed his frustration clearly in an interview after the sprint, which many fans cheered, seeing the echoes of his great father manifesting in the fired up Mick.
Mick Schumacher Had a Decent Season at Haas in 2022
When evaluating how well a driver does over the season you have to separate yourself from the drama and politics that get broadcast everywhere.
Here are the key facts of Mick’s 2022 Haas Season.
- Scored 12 Points (Compared with zero the year before).
- Finished 16th in the Driver’s Championship (Compared with 19th the year before).
- Had 2 DNFs (6th best overall – Magnussen had 4).
Let’s evaluate those details a bit more.
Points Scored in 2022 by Mick Schumacher
12 points in the context of all teams and even comparatively with Magnussen wasn’t excellent but it wasn’t bad by any means. When you compare where Mick finished in the Driver’s Standings it becomes easier to evaluate.
Mick outpointed ALL other rookie drivers on the grid (in a poorer car). Mick Schumacher finished ahead of Tsunoda, Zhou, Albon and Latifi.
Magnussen scored 25 points, with more F1 driving experience and preferential team treatment. Finishing three places above Mick in 13th. Would it be unreasonable to assume Mick may have scored closer to Magnussen with a more supportive team?
The DNFs Matter
Mick finished two more races than Magnussen and finishing 6th best overall in terms of drivers with DNFs.
It is clear Magnussen was doing two things. He was driving his engine (car) harder and wearing it out faster. He was getting hit on track.
Driving your car harder and taking more risks is great for getting more points but it has to be supported by a team willing to spend the money replacing parts.
Does anyone for a second believe Mick Schumacher was given the green light to go all out in the same way Kevin Magnussen did? In fact we know Mick was told to drive conservatively throughout the season.
And drive conservatively he did as his DNFs show. That doesn’t translate to points, and Haas only has themselves to blame for that.
Comparison to Magnussen
Magnussen had a good come back season to F1 and even managed to put the Haas on a pole position.
With that said, Magnussen had a very poor season overall. Let’s not kid ourselves, 25 points over the season for a Formula One veteran is a poor performance. In fact, Magnussen finished behind all other seasoned F1 drivers.
A good season for him would have been a top 10 finish in the Driver’s Standings – and in theory he had the car to achieve that.
Mick also underperformed on the points tally as we have discussed above, but for a rookie driver, he performed better at his respective level of experience than Magnussen.
What Does the Future Hold for Mick Schumacher?
The future for Mick is a I believe a bright one.
Having the reserve Mercedes seat gives him an ‘in’ with a big and competent team.
The grid for the 2023 season is also made up of a lot of drivers who are new (or still in the rookie phase). At least 50% of these drivers will fail to live up to expectation and seats will open up for Mick in the 2024 season.
I may do a 2023 driver’s prediction for my next blog post.
With the right team and car, I think Mick Schumacher can become World Champion in the next 5 years. Of course parts of the puzzle will need to fall into place, but Mick is on a sure footing going forward.
He may even one day dominate the sport in the way his father did. Time will tell, but for now, Mick needs to get his head down at Mercedes, learn all he can and select a team wisely for his 2024 seat.