Ferrari’s Decision Confirms Mick Schumacher Is Doing Fine After Debuting on Formula 1’s Worst Team
- Mick Schumacher’s results as a Formula 1 rookie were better than the raw numbers indicated
- The legendary Ferrari Scuderia team has selected Schumacher to serve as one of its reserve drivers in 2022
- The legendary Michael Schumacher scored the majority of his greatest successes while driving for Ferrari
Only a lucky few ever experience driving a Ferrari, but 22-year-old Mick Schumacher has taken a meaningful step toward one day driving the Ferrari. That’s a nice development for someone coming off a Formula 1 season in which he logged almost as many DNFs as top-15 finishes.
Mick Schumacher’s 2021 Formula 1 season was better than it looked
Evaluating an athlete’s performance requires more than merely looking at raw numbers. Otherwise, Super Bowls and World Series games might as well be played on paper rather than grass. Mick Schumacher’s rookie season as a Formula 1 driver illustrates just that.
Schumacher did not score a top-10 finish in the just-concluded 22-race season and thus did not register a point in the standings. In fact, he only placed in the top 15 once more (four times) than he did not finish a race (three). That might suggest that he landed his seat on the strength of being the son of Michael Schumacher, the best-known driver of the century and the winner of seven F1 season championships.
Fellow driver Sebastian Vettel knows otherwise.
“I think he did an incredible job with such a poor car to reach qualifying segment two a couple of times, to have strong showings in the race, fight some of the other cars that are much faster, stick with the cars ahead that are supposed to be much faster,” Vettel told Formula1.com. “That’s a great effort.”
Vettel also pointed to the young driver’s work ethic as a factor that bodes well for his future.
“He’s been one of the first ones, if not the first one, every single day to come to the paddock and one of the latest ones to leave.”Sebastian Vettel
Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, also 22, were rookie drivers for the Haas team this season, and Vettel was right to cite the car as a factor in Schumacher’s lack of success.
Haas was the only one of the 10 Formula 1 teams not to score a point, continuing a drastic falloff from 93 points and a fifth-place showing in the 2018 constructors’ standings. It’s debatable whether Max Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton could have scored more than a couple of podium finishes this season in the cars Haas fielded.
Ferrari has come calling for Mick Schumacher
Sebastian Vettel is not the only person to understand that Mick Schumacher performed better than the numbers suggested. Ferrari Scuderia, the most storied name in Formula 1, announced on Tuesday that Mick Schumacher will share its reserve driver role in 2022.
Ferrari previously lined up former Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi as its primary reserve driver, but the 28-year-old Italian will also be competing in Formula E throughout the year. Thus, Schumacher will step in as the F1 team’s standby driver for 11 of the 23 scheduled races.
What it means is that Schumacher will continue to drive as scheduled for Haas in 2022. But if he is the scheduled reserve driver for a weekend on which Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz is unavailable due to illness or injury, then Schumacher will drive for Ferrari and Haas will call upon Pietro Fittipaldi.
“He is a Ferrari driver. We should not forget that,” Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said, according to the BBC. “He has been part of the academy, and the reason we have an academy is to identify who can be the next Ferrari driver for the future.”
Mick Schumacher is a candidate to show continued growth
Whereas Nikita Mazepin only finished better than 17th once for Haas last Formula 1 season, teammate Mick Schumacher progressed over the second half of the year. He may have been overly aggressive in the latter stages (the three DNFs came in the second half of the season), but that suggests growing confidence.
In any case, his racing pedigree is solid. He won the Formula 3 series championship in 2017 and the Formula 2 crown two years later.
Since teams rarely need to call upon reserve drivers, Schumacher likely will not represent Ferrari in an F1 race in 2022. Still, he may land some occasional seat and simulator time with last season’s third-place team, which would constitute a significant upgrade over his Haas car.
And, while Ferrari officials understandably like the work of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, there’s no reason that Schumacher couldn’t one day become a full-time driver for the organization where his father scored his greatest successes.