Schumacher to ’talk’ to other ’top teams’
"First of all, it depends on my performance"
Kevin Magnussen’s pace is good news, not bad news, for Mick Schumacher.
That is the view of former driver Christian Danner, even though the experienced Dane Magnussen’s eleventh-hour return to replace Nikita Mazepin at Haas appears to have threatened Schumacher’s top-dog status.
Indeed, the newly 23-year-old Schumacher is out of contract at the end of the year - and managing to bounce back from his Bahrain defeat against Magnussen will boost his chances of a new deal.
That chance won’t come at Ferrari - until 2025, at least. That’s because Carlos Sainz is now believed to have signed on the dotted line for another two years.
"Of course it’s important to talk to every top team," German Schumacher said in Saudi Arabia.
"First of all, it depends on my performance. The rest will follow from that."
Haas boss Gunther Steiner tips Schumacher to begin to claw back at Magnussen’s early 2022 advantage.
"It will take a little time for him," he said. "Kevin is fast, but so is the car. In terms of balance, it’s very good. The car doesn’t do any strange things.
"Kevin is very open with Mick and has no problem helping him."
The really good news is that Haas is very close to the very top of the upper midfield, with Schumacher admitting the Ferrari-powered car has a "small lead" over Alpine, Alfa Romeo and Alpha Tauri.
Steiner isn’t even ruling out third place overall.
"Who knows?" he said. "Kevin’s return showed that it is possible.
"I think it would have been very difficult to get such a result if Nikita Mazepin and Mick remained together in the team."
Danner agrees that Schumacher has the perfect platform to shine alongside a proven driver.
"Magnussen is a stroke of luck for Mick," he told Bild newspaper. "The puppy protection is over. Now he has to show that he can assert himself.
"That wasn’t an issue against Mazepin - every driver on the grid would have won that. Magnussen is a different calibre.
"Mick has to work his way up to be in front and that will increase his chances for 2023. It’s his last contract year and he has to promote himself.
"Mick has been fighting for a new contract since Bahrain and Magnussen is helping him with that."
Schumacher reports that he has in fact already learned from 29-year-old Magnussen.
"He just lets the car that is underneath him work. I can learn a lot from that," said the German.
"As a teammate, he’s also very open. He has done long-distance races where he shared a car with other drivers. Together we’ll both get faster."
Schumacher is also confident Haas will be able to keep up in the intense 2022 development race, having spent so much time preparing the all-new car.
"Last year we were able to try out so many configurations of the car and we now have a good idea of the direction we need to develop in. We tried a lot!"
He admits that Ferrari’s new engine is a big contributor.
"I think we have made the greatest progress in that area," said the German. "You can also feel that in the car."