Ross Brawn hopes Mick Schumacher’s Formula 1 career continues – whether still at Haas or with another team.
At the age of 23, Schumi junior already looks to be at a crossroads, Haas boss Guenther Steiner openly discussing in the media that the team are deliberating whether to replace him, potentially with a more experienced driver.
Schumacher failing to score points in his debut campaign was no surprise considering how uncompetitive the Haas car was, but this year the German recorded back-to-back top-10 finishes in Britain and Austria.
He still finds himself outscored 22-12 by team-mate Kevin Magnussen having crashed too often for Steiner’s liking in the opening third of the campaign, but has won the internal head-to-head battle in seven of the last nine races.
That suggests Schumacher is responding to the challenge of knowing his future is under threat, with Steiner having highlighted a lack of consistency.
Brawn will naturally side with the son of the seven-time former World Champion, with whom the Briton worked closely and enjoyed great mutual success at Benetton and Ferrari, and he very much hopes that be it at Haas, Williams or even Alpine, Schumacher can find a place that does not mean him dropping to the sidelines.
“Mick has improved enormously this year,” Brawn, Formula 1’s motorsports managing director, told SPORT1.
“He has a really good reference in Kevin Magnussen as a team-mate and he is now at an important crossroads in his career. He certainly deserves to take the next step in his career. And that’s what he’ll be judged on then.”
Comparisons between father and son are difficult, not to mention unnecessary at this early stage, but Brawn is aware of certain differences that are evident to those who take a keen interest in the sport.
“He’s different from his father, who was always on the limit straight away,” added Brawn. “Mick takes a bit longer, but in the end he won the titles in the junior classes.
“He’s very talented, has 100% adopted the work ethic from his father and is extremely capable of improving. That’s crucial.”
Brawn also compared Schumacher’s situation to that of Max Verstappen, whose father Jos was Michael Schumacher’s team-mate at Benetton in 1994.
“Max’s big advantage over Mick is that his father was also a hero in the Netherlands but he didn’t win, wasn’t a seven-time World Champion and isn’t an icon like Michael is in Germany,” said Brawn. “Of course, this increases the pressure on Mick even more.”
Does Mick Schumacher deserve to be on the Formula 1 grid in 2023?
It would seem very harsh if Schumacher’s F1 career was snuffed out at this stage, by way of being dropped by Haas and unable to find a way back into the sport in future years.
When Magnussen returned to the sport this season, he was given a multi-year deal by Haas but has not really kicked on following a bright start.
Schumacher has been generally the team’s stronger driver certainly since the Canadian Grand Prix, where Steiner said he noticed a different approach following a big crash in Monaco.
With the more experienced Nico Hulkenberg, Antonio Giovinazzi and even potentially Daniel Ricciardo waiting in the wings, Schumacher needs to hope the loyalty shown by Haas to Magnussen and Romain Grosjean during their four years at the team – perhaps a little too much faith – still exists.
If he is turfed out by Steiner, Williams could be a good option – a sideways move would be appropriate for Schumacher as he has not done enough, in our opinion, to warrant a step up to Alpine.
Up against Alex Albon, that would be a suitable benchmark to determine whether Schumacher truly has what it takes to enjoy a lengthy F1 career.