A reminder of Schumacher’s F1 advantage amid fading 2023 hopes

The market for Formula 1 drivers has been too volatile to have casualties for 2023 and it looks like one of those could be Mick Schumacher.

Haas is not publicly ruling out keeping Schumacher beyond this season, but that is a weak position for him as the current incumbent as it means he has not made the case to be kept.

There are few options elsewhere. Schumacher does not appear to be participating in an alpine race and has been left out of the AlphaTauri movement.

He only leaves Williams as a serious replacement for Haas.

The question is whether Schumacher emerges as a better option for both teams. If Daniel Ricciardo is still in the frame, Schumacher is clearly not. But whatever the reasons why Haas is not convinced, Schumacher has an advantage as a candidate. And from a performance perspective, it’s probably Williams’ best pick.

Schumacher with two seasons of experience and the peaks we’ve seen this year is simply a better prospect than a novice like Formula 2 champion and Formula E champion Nick de Vries. His ceiling has been high this season but Haas continues to demand more consistency.

Back-to-back point finishes in Britain and Austria were the first glimpse into this before the VF-22 slipped into competitive edge. France, Hungary and Belgium passed without Schumacher or Kevin Magnussen smelling at some points, and in that time Haas introduced a major new promotion.

Last weekend the Dutch GP provided the first real glimpse into the package’s ability to make Haas a top-10 threat once again and Schumacher, not Magnussen, was the closest to realizing that.

He qualified eighth, and it was an excellent result considering that Magnussen didn’t even make it out of the first quarter.

“We still have tomorrow, and that’s where I focus,” warned Schumacher. “So far, very happy with the performance, it has been a fund that we wanted to identify and certainly we have identified.”

Unfortunately, Sunday was a disappointment – however Schumacher can’t take any responsibility for that, aside from a cautious opening lap on the media that cost Schumacher places to Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon and dropped him to 10th where he stayed for the rest of the first period.

“We lost two spots to cars we knew were faster,” Schumacher said.

“Unfortunately we didn’t have the best starts and we were a bit cautious because we clearly wanted to stay in the race.

“In the end, it’s always easier to say ‘Ah, I wish we did, I wish we did this.’ On the other hand, we had quite a bit of temp on the middle, so I think soft things would have been worse.”

Formula 1 World Championship, Dutch Grand Prix Day, Zandvoort, Netherlands

Schumacher was among the first stoppers despite using the medium in the first assignment and switching to another set of mediums. Given the speed of Fernando Alonso after switching to a tricky style, it is unlikely that Schumacher would have stuck to the top 10. But the slow release of the lever at the stopping point meant he didn’t have a chance to try.

Rather than fight for a statement score at a potentially pivotal moment in his season, Schumacher was doomed to a race he spent in the lower midfield. He crossed the 14th streak and was promoted to 13th with a five-second penalty for Sebastian Vettel.

“Honestly, these things happen,” Schumacher said. “It is unfortunate sometimes that the materials do not work as well as we would like them to.

“Today it probably cost us a few points, which is frustrating because I think we had a decent car, decent enough to be in the top 10, obviously some of the cars around us were a little bit faster, and they ran the tires a little bit better, but nonetheless, from The good thing is that we feel we have some kind of competition in us, compared to them.

“It’s a pity that it wasn’t all about the points.”

There were other glimpses of what Schumacher could do even in midfield, especially as he passed Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo around the outside to a tricky right hand with the gravel trap in close proximity.

Formula 1 World Championship, Dutch Grand Prix Day, Zandvoort, Netherlands

Vettel, Schumacher’s friend and mentor, had said at the start of the Dutch Grand Prix that it would be a surprise and a shame to see the youngster leave the grid next year. There is a real danger of that. But there may be time for Schumacher to secure his future.

He shrugged off the disappointment of losing an eye-catching result at Zandvoort and said it was motivation to keep pushing. What he needs now more than anything else is repeat shows like last weekend’s and keep getting better.

There are still question marks over Schumacher’s ultimate potential, but he has shown enough as a Formula 1 driver to earn a place on the 2023 grid. Zandvoort was a timely reminder of that.

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