Should he lose his Haas seat, Mick Schumacher’s 2023 plans could hinge on what Daniel Ricciardo decides – with both drivers linked to a Mercedes reserve driver role.
Schumacher’s place on next year’s grid is by no means guaranteed, in fact it is not looking good at all.
Before the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend there were rumours doing the rounds that Haas had already decided and would be going with Nico Hulkenberg, Schumacher dropped from the line-up.
Team principal Guenther Steiner confirmed at Saturday’s constructors’ press conference the choice has indeed been made – and everyone will find out what it is during the coming week.
Should Schumacher lose his race seat, Auto Motor und Sport says he could find himself in competition with Ricciardo for the reserve driver spot at Mercedes.
AMuS’ Michael Schmidt claims Schumacher and Ricciardo’s “decisions are linked”, with both drivers having made it clear Formula 1 remains their priority for next season.
“Ricciardo has already settled for a reserve driver role,” Schmidt wrote. “Schumacher will have to consider this possibility in the event of a negative decision from his team.
“It’s also no secret talks have already taken place in both cases.”
Ricciardo is on the short list at both Mercedes and his former team Red Bull, the latter which could potentially lead to him again racing for the team if Sergio Perez does not impress.
The Mercedes door, though, is closed even for 2024 with Lewis Hamilton wanting a new deal and George Russell billed as the Brackley squad’s future.
Schumacher would then be Mercedes’ “first choice if Ricciardo is not available”, with Schmidt saying it would be more of a lateral move for the 23-year-old than it would for a driver like Ricciardo.
“For Schumacher, a reserve driver contract with a team that’s third in the World Championship would not be a step backwards but sideways,” he believes. “He may learn more there than with a small team in racing.
“And he would also be the reserve driver for most of the Mercedes customer teams. Only Aston Martin have a reserve driver from their own ranks in 2023.
“The example of Nyck de Vries shows that with so many options, it can quickly become a racing seat again.”
Mercedes’ motorsport boss Toto Wolff has spoken of his interest in the younger Schumacher in the past, telling RTL last season the driver has “the potential to sit in a top car and why not in a Mercedes? But he has to go his way.
“You have to give him time. Only when a driver has the experience, doesn’t make big mistakes anymore, convert the speed, then he can bring in big successes in a top car.”
Schumacher’s father, Michael Schumacher, raced for Mercedes from 2010-12 after he was persuaded to exit retirement and return to the grid.
Mercedes, though, are not Schumacher’s only option, with Alpine “also interested” in having him as a reserve as their junior, Jack Doohan, focuses on his Formula 2 programme.
Although Schumacher is still a part of Ferrari’s junior academy, mid-season reports claimed this year would be the last in their partnership.