Mick Schumacher should know next week whether he will be replaced by his F1 team Haas for the 2023 season, team principal Guenther Steiner told AFP on Saturday.
Haas are the last team to finalise their line-up for next season and there have been multiple reports that Steiner could turn to 35-year-old Niko Huelkenberg instead of the son of the former seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher.
“Hopefully, we can close it all off and make our decision in the next week,” Steiner said ahead of the launch event for next season’s Las Vegas Grand Prix.
After next weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, the season concludes a week later in Abu Dhabi with testing at that circuit in the following days after the race.
“We are getting closer because the season is almost over. It would be good if we get decided on a driver before we go testing. After Abu Dhabi there is a test and you want your driver in who is going to be racing next year,” he said.
Steiner said the decision was not dependent on the 23-year-old Schumacher’s performance in the final races.
“It is not about one race anymore. I’m not a guy who says, ‘if you do one good race or one good test then you get a seat.’
“That would be too simplistic, that was maybe done 20-30 years ago, these days you have to see the big picture," he said.
“The sport is getting more and more complex. You need to see what is best for the team, to take it forward, where do we want to be? What we want do? Then it’s a decision (about) is Mick experienced enough with two years under his belt to take the team forward? Or do we have to bring someone in who is more experienced, that is the big question,” he said.
Schumacher ended his debut season in F1 in 19th position and without a point and currently this season he is in 16th place with 12 points with his best performance a sixth place finish in Austria.
Critical comments from Steiner have led to a growing sentiment that Haas may be about to make a switch and turn to a more experienced driver as they look to strengthen their position in the constructors’ championship.
Speaking generally about the limited options for rookies in the sport, Steiner said that it was a big step-up from Formula Two as he had learned from last season when he had two newcomers in Schumacher and Russian Nikita Mazepin.
“I learned it last year with two rookies, Nikita and Mick, you live and learn and I learned that lesson. If you have a stable and mature team you can bring a rookie in and focus on him. But if you have a team like ours which is still young, we have more to gain to make the team better than the driver better," he said.
“Coming into F1 from F2 it is still a big step and it is not only about the racing and the driving it is the whole surrounding and that has to do also with the popularity of the sport because there is so much pressure on you," he said.
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