Schumacher denies crash cost him 2023 contract
"I would be surprised if that was the case"
Mick Schumacher says he would be "surprised" if his practice crash at Suzuka ends his chances of staying at Haas in 2023.
Before the German crashed on an in-lap in treacherous conditions ahead of the Japanese GP on Friday, new rumours suggested the two parties are now close to signing a one-year contract extension for next year.
Those reports suggest the new Schumacher deal could be announced next time out in Austin, which will be attended by team owner Gene Haas.
But then came the crash, which according to furious team boss Gunther Steiner produced "half a million euros of rubbish" in the form of car damage.
"I didn’t discuss the accident with him," Steiner said, "but sometimes less is more.
"When you’re driving back to the pits, you’re not allowed to fly off like that. The water was already there on the previous lap."
Schumacher defended himself on the basis that the incident was akin to "aquaplaning on the normal autobahn".
"You’re actually just a passenger, although I didn’t place the car quite where it should have been. Things like that happen."
As for whether he can imagine Steiner now tearing up his 2023 contract extension before it is signed, Schumacher answered: "I would be surprised if that was the case.
"I mean, the performance is there. It’s a moment. But I’ve been showing good performances lately and that should count for more."
Steiner was in even less of a mood to comment on whether the Suzuka crash may be very bad news for Schumacher’s contract chances.
"I don’t want to comment on that," he insisted. "In the current situation, it is completely inappropriate to discuss this topic."
What is certain is that Schumacher will not find refuge at either Alpine or Alpha Tauri, with those teams confirming 2023 deals for Pierre Gasly and Nyck de Vries respectively at Suzuka.
Daniel Ricciardo, meanwhile, appears destined to accept life as Mercedes’ reserve driver next year.
"He won’t really get anything out of it," warned 2009 world champion Jenson Button.
"I guess he’s thinking Lewis (Hamilton) will retire, but Lewis says he’s going to be around for five years.
"So it would need to be the team where he thinks he can get a seat for 2024, otherwise it’s game over. You’re forgotten in F1 after a year."