Binotto: Schumacher at Haas to develop for a Ferrari drive

Mick Schumacher, Haas F1, in the garage during the Abu Dhabi GP at Yas Marina Circuit on Friday December 11, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Mick Schumacher has been placed at Haas for the 2021 Formula 1 season with the intention of developing him to become a Ferrari driver in the future, says the Scuderia’s team principal Mattia Binotto.

The 2020 Formula 2 champion and a Ferrari junior, Schumacher will drive alongside Nikita Mazepin at Haas next season in what Binotto hopes is the next step towards following in his father Michael’s footsteps at Ferrari.

“Mick Schumacher will be one of the drivers for Haas next year, which for us is a great opportunity, showing the strength of collaboration we’ve got,” Binotto explained. “Mick is part of our FDA [Ferrari Driver Academy] and the FDA program is not there to develop drivers for F1, but it’s there to develop drivers that one day may drive a Ferrari seat, a red car.

“When you move from F2 and jump into F1, the very first year cannot be directly into a red car because that would be too much responsibility and not enough experience. So knowing that we’ve got customer teams or partners on which we may count to continue developing our drivers in F1 is an important element.”

Alongside Schumacher’s placement, Ferrari has also loaned several of its technical staff to Haas in an effort to improve on what was an underachieving team in 2020, while performance engineer Jock Clear – who worked alongside Schumacher senior at Mercedes – will provide coaching for the German, as well as the rest of the FDA stable.

“Jock is a great person, a great professional who has been in Ferrari for many years,” Binotto said of Clear, who joined the Scuderia in late 2014. “His role in 2020 was driver coach – an engineer who is supporting the drivers in order to perform in terms of driving to their best; looking at the lines, look at the way they are braking, through the corner, accelerating, managing tires… to make sure that the driver is developing well.

“We had some chats with Jock in the past weeks. We would like to develop him some more as a driver coach not only for Charles [Leclerc], but looking ahead to the future to all of our young driver line-up that we’ve got in the Ferrari Driver Academy. So next year we’ve got Mick in Haas starting his experience in F1, but we’ve still got young drivers competing in F2 – for example Robert [Schwartzman] – or Callum Ilott, who will be our test driver next year who still will do the simulator and free practices.

“So the role of Jock will be to assist all these drivers to develop themselves as drivers and try to exploit the most of their potential.”