On Thursday, Haas released a statement that confirmed Mick Schumacher will not drive for the team in 2023. It comes as no surprise, given the questionable performance of the German, and the wide speculations about his place in F1. Nico Hulkenberg, respectively, has been announced as his replacement in another statement minutes later. He was poised to take Schumacher’s in the Haas F1 team for quite a while now.
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What went wrong for Mick Schumacher
The son of 7-time World Champion Michael Schumacher entered the sport at the wrong time, for the wrong team. 2021 was by far Haas’ worst season, not scoring a single point, and not being competitive whatsoever.
This year, however, the engineers have built a quite decent car. The VF22 started the season pretty close to the front, at times battling with the Mercedes guys. Unfortunately for Mick, Kevin Magnussen was the one to take full advantage of the new car.
What made the situation worse for Schumacher, is that the Dane was coming from a one-year sabbatical. A couple of costly crashes added further salt to the already wounded team-driver relationship.
“I would like to thank Mick Schumacher for his contribution to the team over the past couple of years,” said Guenther Steiner in the official statement from the outfit.
“Mick’s pedigree in the junior categories was well known and he has continued to grow and develop as a driver in his time with Haas F1 Team – culminating in his first F1 points-scoring successes earlier this season.
“While choosing to go in separate directions for the future the entire team wishes Mick well for the next steps in his career path and beyond.”
Niko Hulkenberg’s miraculous comeback to the sport
In a sense, Niko Hulkenberg has never been away. After he was released by Renault in 2019, he undertook a reserve driver role in Racing Point, which later became Aston Martin.
His stay there corresponded with the Pandemic, and he was needed for three races in 2020. This year, he had to deputize for Sebastian Vettel in the first two races of the season.
During his career, Hulkenberg has shown fantastic one-lap speed, which produced him a Pole Position. This happened in Brazil back in 2010 with an unfavorable Williams car. Then, in 2012, he was in contention for the win, before he spun off turn 1, crashing into Lewis Hamilton.
Another shot at a podium?
The German holds an infamous record in Formula 1. He has started 181 races in the sport, without ever getting on the podium. After 2019, we all thought that this record will stay forever. Thankfully, Hulkenberg will have another shot this year.
Guenther Steiner is pleased to welcome Nico Hulkenberg
“I’m naturally very pleased to be welcoming Nico Hulkenberg back to a full-time racing role in F1,” Steiner said.
“The experience and knowledge base Nico brings to the team is clear to see – with nearly 200 career starts in F1 – and a reputation as being a great qualifier and a solid, reliable racer.
“These are attributes, which when you pair them together with Kevin Magnussen’s experience, gives us a very credible and well-seasoned driver line-up which we believe will help push the team onwards up the grid.”
Have Magnussen and Hulkenberg buried the hatchet?
Haas’ 2023 F1 drivers have a history of not getting along too well. In 2017, Kevin made the famous “suck my balls” comment after a battle in the race in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“I think I’ve said many times now, that I don’t have a problem with Nico at all,” said Kevin in an interview a little while back.
“Actually I respect him as a racing driver. I don’t really know him as a person. But certainly, as a racing driver, I’ve always respected him. So I would have no problem.”
Haas and Nico have a lot of work to do
Hulkenberg said: “I feel like I never really left Formula 1. I’m excited to have the opportunity to do what I love the most again and want to thank Gene Haas and Gunther Steiner for their trust.
“We have work ahead of us to be able to compete with all the other teams in the midfield, and I cannot wait to join that battle again.”
Schumacher to Mercedes?
On the other hand, there have been speculations about Mick Schumacher’s future beyond Haas. His father obviously has connections with Mercedes, and Toto Wolff recently said that the Schumacher family “belongs” to Mercedes.
So it will come as no surprise if we see Mick take on a reserve role in Brackley. We hope that lady fortune will smile at him, and we’ll see Schumacher Junior in a race car sooner rather than later.