There’s only one seat left on the grid, the second seat at Haas. The team has been tossing up whether or not to keep Mick Schumacher in the seat and it isn’t just about his skill as a driver, it’s about his costly crashes (at least, that’s what’s been inferred). Haas don’t have the largest budget on the grid so it makes sense that they would consider signing an experienced driver in the form of Nico Hulkenberg.
Haas team principal, Guenther Steiner, has recently stated that they will decide who will drive in their second seat before the season finale in Abu Dhabi. Whether Mick Schumacher will retain his seat is apparently a “50-50” toss-up.
As Steiner explained, “For me it’s no longer about one race, one lap. For me, it’s about what’s best for the Haas team in the medium to long term.
“It’s not like if Mick scores points now, he has the place or not,” added Steiner. The main factor is “who is capable of leading the team stably into the future.”
Rumours have been swirling that Schumacher will be replaced by Nico Hulkenberg, as Steiner confirmed that Hulkenberg was a possible candidate, and now that Hulkenberg is no longer Aston Martin’s reserve driver, his taking the seat seems more likely than ever.
Hulkenberg himself has remained quiet until recently. When speaking to Austrian broadcaster, ServusTV, he said, “At the end of the day, it’s not my decision. I’m not making it. There are still talks. I am relatively optimistic, but we will have to patient a little longer.”
Mick Schumacher is not a bad driver, but his mistakes are incredibly costly. He trashed the car in Jeddah, Monaco, and Suzuka. In Monaco, the car was basically ripped in two. That wouldn’t be so bad (drivers crash all the time), but Schumacher isn’t providing good enough results to make this cost worth it. When you compare him to his teammate, Kevin Magnussen, the points aren’t there. Schumacher sits at 12 points to Magnussen’s 24. Plus, Magnussen doesn’t trash the car as often.
It is perhaps pertinent to focus on Steiner’s “stably” comment. Haas craves stability, especially after the recent catastrophe with Russian sponsor Uralkali along with the Russian rookie that came along with it, Nikita Mazepin. These were both dropped in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It was clear that Mazepin wasn’t up to the task, and any excuse to get rid of him would do. They’re happy with Magnussen, he’s worked with the team before and was partly dropped in the past because Haas needed money. Haas need stability if they are going to move up the grid, and to do that, they need a driver who is consistent and doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg every time they go out onto the track. Hulkenberg could easily fill those requirements.
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