Mick Schumacher says he does not regret signing for Haas despite a “turbulent” week which saw his team-mate Nikita Mazepin sacked.
Mazepin’s contract was terminated alongside principal sponsor Uralkali as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Haas are on the hunt for a driver to partner Schumacher with under two weeks until the season begins.
Schumacher is entering his second season with the team after the Haas car was the worst on the grid in 2021 but the 22-year-old said he does not regret joining the team.
“I’m happy here and I get along with everyone,” Schumacher told German newspaper Bild.
“It’s great that as a driver who’s only in his second year, I have such a big influence on the development and set-up of the car. I grow together with the team.”
Schumacher was speaking following a week that saw him lose his team-mate as well as the team’s biggest sponsor. When asked how he would describe the past week and a half, Schumacher replied “turbulent.”
“We tried to keep the focus on racing. Of course, that was anything but easy with all the terrible events in Ukraine,” he said.
Haas sacrificed their 2021 season in anticipation of the 2022 regulation overhaul and after the first round of testing in Barcelona, Schumacher said his first impression of the new car was “positive.”
“I think we can drive further up the front,” he said.
“We won’t see how good we really are and whether it’s enough for the top third, for example, until the first race weekend in Bahrain.
Mick jumps out of the car after a productive morning at @Circuitcat_eng 💪
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) February 24, 2022
“If we have the car that we think we’ve been developing over the past few months, it looks promising. We worked hard and exchanged ideas almost continuously. Now and then I gave the team a few days off from me. But there weren’t too many. We want to attack everyone.
“If the car works the way we want it to, we can deliver. The problem is: Only at the first race in Bahrain will all the teams put their cards on the table. All lap times and impressions from the previous tests are secondary.”
Despite spending most of his time at the back of the grid in 2021, Schumacher believes there were positives to take and that it was a year of learning for him.
“Of course, last season was difficult because of the car, but there were also positive things, like the duel with Max [Verstappen] at the race in Hungary.
“We knew that it would not be a year in which we could have high hopes of success. On average I finished 16th. For what we had available it was decent. So there were no doubts. I always knew: It’s about learning – and I have.”
Schumacher is preparing for the 2022 season with an advantage having used the new 18-inch tyres during his Formula 2 days but says he has not set any goals for the upcoming campaign.
“My knowledge of tyres is a little bit better thanks to Formula 2. We already drove with the 18-inch rims. That year I was able to win the championship. So it worked really well back then. But the other drivers will catch up quickly.
“Everyone [in the team] is highly motivated. It is important to keep this atmosphere alive with good results. But you always have to set your goals a little higher than they are realistic. That’s how you stay hungry.
“So far I haven’t set any for this season. We’ll have to wait and see how quickly I get used to the car. After the second tests I should have a pretty clear idea of what’s in store for this season.”
For this year, Schumacher will also be reserve driver at Ferrari and said every one on the grid works to present the best version of themselves so that they can race for the best teams.
“It’s nice to see that my performances from last season have been seen and rewarded [with the reserve seat at Ferrari]. But my focus is on Haas and this year. I have to perform here. What will happen in the future will then be revealed.
“That’s what every season is about at the end of the day. Also for the drivers who drive for Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull. Formula 1 is about performance. If you don’t bring that, you won’t be part of Formula 1 for long.”
However, he did not deny driving for Ferrari was his dream and said he would be able to cope with the pressure of performing in the shadow of his dad, Michael Schumacher.
“The pressure wouldn’t be too great. Ferrari is every driver’s dream. It’s the oldest and biggest team in Formula 1.
“Everyone wants to drive for the Prancing Horse.”