Mick Schumacher admitted he had “outperformed predictions” by reaching Q3 for the Dutch Grand Prix.
Three drivers could have been described as surprise packages in advancing to the top-10 shootout at Zandvoort, the biggest eyebrow-raiser being Schumacher in the Haas.
It was probably a shade less unexpected that the German was joined in Q3 by Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll, but he will start ahead of both of that duo in eighth.
The performance raised the prospect that Schumacher could score points for a third time in his Formula 1 career on his 36th race start – and in the process boost his hopes of remaining on the grid next year.
Son of Michael Schumacher, the seven-time former World Champion, the 23-year-old has remained tight-lipped about his future during the weekend amid reports he could be set to leave not only the Haas team but also the Ferrari Driver Academy.
Performances like the one he produced in qualifying at Zandvoort will only help his cause in snapping up one of the remaining seats available for 2023 – especially as it exceeded his expectations.
“It feels good,” Schumacher told Sky F1. “Obviously outperforming our predictions is always great – we saw ourselves out in Q2, but to go through to Q3 and repeat the lap time prior to Q2 was definitely decent.
“To start P8 is a great starting point and hopefully some points tomorrow.”
Having been 11th and 13th on the timesheet in the two Friday practice sessions, Schumacher had given an indication of what was to come when ninth in FP3 – but said there had been no big changes made to the car overnight.
“You want to try just to be consistent,” he said. “Don’t make major changes but actually just fine-tune it if you need it. And that’s what we did.
“We didn’t do massive changes. I think it was just a bit of fine-tuning. Luckily we started the weekend with a great set-up and we didn’t have to do big changes, which always helps and especially builds confidence over what you have under your bum and makes you hopefully faster on track.”
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Asked about his chances for the race, Schumacher, who finished sixth at the Austrian Grand Prix for his best F1 result so far, said: “We’ll definitely have to look at how our tyre management will go.
“On the other hand, we have some cars behind us which are probably a similar pace to what we are, so we just try and keep them behind us and make them fight with the others and destroy their tyres and we can keep our tyres alive.”
Schumacher’s team-mate, Kevin Magnussen, was eliminated in Q1 and will line up 17th.