Mick Schumacher is increasingly unlikely to find a place on the F1 2024 grid with opportunities to return beginning to close on Mercedes’ reserve driver.
That is the understanding of Sky F1 pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz, who regards Williams as Schumacher’s only hope of landing a race seat next season.
Schumacher, the son of seven-time World Champion Michael, was dropped by Haas at the end of last season having scored points on just two occasions, with costly crashes in Saudi Arabia, Monaco and Japan a key motive behind the team’s decision to sign Nico Hulkenberg as Kevin Magnussen’s new team-mate after a three-year absence.
Mick Schumacher set to miss out on F1 2024 return
While Hulkenberg has shone on his return to F1 in 2023, qualifying as high as second in Canada, Schumacher opted to sit out this season and became Mercedes’ reserve driver with a view to finding a full-time drive next year.
However, with only a select few seats up for grabs for 2024, Kravitz believes Schumacher’s hopes of a return rest almost entirely on Williams dropping American driver Logan Sargeant, who has yet to score a point in 14 appearances this season.
Speaking via his Ted’s Notebook roundup for Sky F1 following the Italian Grand Prix, Kravitz said: “I’ve got a line for you that you might have heard, but [Mercedes team boss] Toto Wolff was asked about Mick Schumacher and whether he might [return to the grid in 2024].
“Wolff was asked, ‘Look, can you get a berth for Mick Schumacher, your reserve driver, for next year? Is there opportunity at Williams, maybe, if they don’t keep Logan Sargeant?
“Toto Wolff said, unfortunately for Mick, it looks like all the doors are being closed in front of him.
“So if you’re a fan of Mick Schumacher – and let’s face it, who isn’t? – sadly it doesn’t look like Mick Schumacher is going to be back on the grid next year, in which case he’s going to have to find a different series to race in.
“He can’t have two years away from racing, that would just really hurt too much for him, but let’s see what happens.
“Maybe there will be a place at Williams because Logan Sargeant had a little bit of a disappointing day today, but let’s see.”
Guenther Steiner, the Haas team principal, was widely condemned for his public criticism of Schumacher throughout the German’s challenging 2022 campaign.
Speaking to Sky Deutschland recently, Schumacher appeared to have a dig at Steiner when praising the management skills of Wolff at Mercedes.
“I can see now how it should be,” he said. “My two years [with Haas] didn’t show me that. [You cannot] assume a driver will perform at his best if you don’t support him in the right way.”
Mick Schumacher can have no complaints if F1 2024 passes him by too
Schumacher has a point when he claims he wasn’t supported by Haas, but in truth he no longer had a leg to stand on the moment Hulkenberg proved to be an instant upgrade even after three years away.
Two Q3 appearances and a fine seventh place for Hulkenberg in his first three races back confirmed beyond doubt that Haas’s decision to drop Schumacher was the correct one and pointed to an uncomfortable truth that Michael’s boy – regardless of whether or not he made his debut in a healthy environment – probably isn’t F1 material after all.
Their status as a Mercedes customer team made Williams an obvious target for Schumacher when he became Merc’s reserve driver last December, but that was then and this is now.
Williams’ transformation both on and off track under the new management of James Vowles has made the second seat alongside Alex Albon a far more coveted place than it has been for some years, the team now more ambitious and in a position to be the master of their own destiny again rather than taking whomever Mercedes provide.
And, on the evidence of his Haas career, there is no guarantee that Schumacher would represent an upgrade on Sargeant anyway.
There is no more damning reflection than that of Schumacher’s current stock. He can have no complaints if the 2024 season passes him by too.