The multiple crashes for Mick Schumacher this season have rubbed team principal Guenther Steiner up the wrong way on financial terms, but 1996 World Champion Damon Hill believes being “blindingly fast” has made crashes more “forgivable” for other drivers in the past.
Schumacher is under pressure to perform as he looks to keep his seat in Formula 1 next season, with only Haas and Williams left with seats to fill for 2023.
The German has had several large offs so far this season, being unable to start the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after a big qualifying crash, as well as splitting his Haas in two in Monaco, before significant repairs were required last time out after a crash during practice at a wet Suzuka.
Coupled with struggles to match team-mate Kevin Magnussen’s pace in the early part of the season, Schumacher’s place in Formula 1 has come under threat as a result.
Steiner said Schumacher still has “home advantage” when it comes to staking his claim to keep his place at the American team next year, but with Haas having the smallest budget on the grid, their finances have taken a hit through his accidents this year.
Hill was discussing Schumacher’s future and compared his troubles to others throughout history who had problems of their own through crashing often.
The 1996 World Champion stressed that Steiner’s words on Schumacher were not a sign of him being “anti Mick”, but the quandary facing any team is balancing the damage costs they can afford with the speed of the driver behind the wheel.
And it boils down to a simple equation: The faster the driver, the more likely they are to be forgiven for causing repeated damage to their car.
“I think he is good enough,” Hill said on the F1 Nation podcast when asked if Schumacher should stay on the grid for 2023.
“The problem is he had a bit of a torrid start to the season, didn’t he, when he got compared to Kevin, who came in and it wasn’t going in the right direction.
“But I think he had some strong performances in the middle of season, but then he did do another tub, I understand, the chassis, in the crash in Suzuka, but these things happen.
“You know the forgivable thing with a lot of guys, like his dad for example, and quite a few other drivers I can think of like Senna that, when they came in, they did a lot of damage. They were very fast and they went off the road quite a bit, but they always had the pace.
“The problem is if you don’t have blindingly fast potential, then you can’t keep crashing the car and that’s the problem that Guenther raised.
“He wasn’t anti Mick, it was just he was costing the team a lot to keep them going because of the cost cap means.
“I know they’re not probably actually anywhere near the cost cap at Haas, but anyway, they’re low on budget so they just can’t afford to keep fixing things.
“The balancing act you have to be able to resolve as a racing driver and as a team is how fast you want to go and how much damage do you want to do?
“Because you want someone who’s quick, but you don’t want someone [who crashes]. I mean, you know, Gilles Villeneuve used to crash a lot, you know, but he was so fast when he wasn’t crashing that he kind of was forgiven.”