After the dubious decisions made by Ferrari in managing Mick Schumacher in Formula 1 has almost ruined his career, Toto Wolff has thrown him a timely lifeline by stating that the “Schumacher family belongs to Mercedes.”
Mick, son of legend Michael, ticked all the boxes on his way to Formula 1, winning both the F3 and F2 Championships before his management, along with Ferrari – who he drives for – made the appalling call to put the young driver at Haas team, as history shows that has all but destroyed the 23-year-old’s reputation.
Unfairly so, because it can be argued that Mick has not had a fair and calm crack at F1, quite the contrary, the Haas team’s disdain for him is apparent, Gunther Steiner not shy to lip-off on how expensive their young driver is, forgetting how hard the driver is trying to keep the shitbox he has to drive on the road.
It has been a glaring lesson on how to destroy a young promising driver’s future without finding out how good he could really be had he been properly managed into F1.
But maybe it is not destroyed, because Wolff’s words are powerful and will resonate with the family; the Mercedes motorsport boss told Sport1: “I don’t know what the status is with Mick and Haas but I make no secret of the fact that the Schumacher family belongs to Mercedes and that we value Mick very much.”
Wolff added: “But first of all, it should be about Mick getting a regular cockpit.”
That’s the problem, there’s only one realistically available, Haas. If Steiner is to be believed an announcement from Ferrari/Haas is expected this week, with two options, the American team does a deal with Maranello (much like this year, probably an engine barter of sorts) and retains Schumacher alongside Magnussen, a chance Mick deserves considering the evil car they handed him for his rookie season last year.
Or, the option is Ferrari pulls the plug on Schumi’s F1 career and, perhaps, offer him something in their exciting Le Mans and WEC Hypercar program or in one of the series they support with satellite teams, such as DTM. Attractive prospects but a push away from F1 for the driver, no matter how you look at it.
Alternatively, if Mick is out of F1, Wolff’s declaration amounts to an offer the Schumachers can’t refuse it at least provides a lifeline for the German youngster while the Ferrari mess can only get worse, amid denied rumours of Mattia Binotto’s demise.
At the same time, it signals that Wolff and many, including this author, believe he has done what is needed to get to the top but a fair chance has not been given him to him when he stepped up.
Mick: I guess this year hasn’t been mine
But once on the F1 stage, he was let down badly, and perhaps, Mercedes is what it will take for Schumi III to have a proper crack at the top flight, he deserves it for the ill-advise his management team gave him to start with.
Credit to Schumacher for never blaming the car for his mishaps, and it is known that lastyear’s Haas – that murdered his reputation – was arguably the worst car of the modern era which, in 2020 neither veterans Romain Grosjean and Magnussen were unable to come to terms with it.
In 2021, with no meaningful upgrades throughout the season, it was handed to two rookies to show what they are made of!
Granted this year, Magnussen – a journeyman – has overshadowed Schumacher and cruelly so last Sunday at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix when the K-Mag claimed a fortuitous pole position, while Mick’s side of the garage had a clanger,he was last.
Yet, this did not floor Schumacher who recover and looked for points, but to no avail: “Sometimes it’s your year and sometimes it’s not and I guess this year hasn’t been mine. We still have one more to go and we’ll give it our best,” he added.
Previewing the season finale in Abu Dhabi this weekend, Mick revealed his mindset: “Don’t stop believing in yourself and prove them wrong. Formula 1 is my life, I love every single moment of it; and the learnings and tough times.
“That’s all a part of it and it’s just a matter of how you go about it and cope with it. That’s when you know if you’re made out for this sport or not,”
For now Mick and his believers can take comfort in Wolff’s words, the door on F1 is not shut even if 2023 means a sabbatical.