Guenther Steiner fears the second-year improvement for which Mick Schumacher has become renowned may have already happened.
That may sound like a contradiction-in-terms regarding Schumacher’s Formula 1 career because it has lasted for only one season so far.
But the Haas team principal has come up with what he sees as a valid reason for thinking the big leap in year two, which the German driver made in junior categories, may not actually materialise in Formula 1 – although naturally he hopes it does.
There has been evidence dating right back to Formula 4 in 2015 and 2016 that the son of Michael Schumacher, the seven-time former World Champion, needs a season to bed in before producing his best form in a series.
He went from 10th to second in F4, 12th to first in his two F3 campaigns and 12th to first again in the Formula 2 Championship.
Measuring the 22-year-old’s progress in F1 is not as easy because it is largely dependent on the competitiveness of his car, which could not have been worse in 2021 as Haas did not develop the VF-21 in order to focus on their 2022 challenger.
Therefore, any points Schumacher and his team-mate Nikita Mazepin score with the VF-22 will represent an improvement on last season when they failed to open their accounts.
Nevertheless, Steiner does not think it is guaranteed that even from the perspective of his driving capabilities, Schumacher will make such large strides in his second F1 campaign.
“With Mick, you already saw quite a lot of progress in the last few races,” said Steiner, quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
“In the junior series’ he always made a huge jump in the second year. In the lower formulas, however, there are far fewer races than in Formula 1, so it could be that he has already made the usual jump for the second year.
“Of course, we would all be very happy if another giant leap followed now.”
Haas are expecting a much better season with their brand-new car for the much-revised regulations, and were the first team to show anything of it publicly.
But while they are clearly ready from a technical standpoint to get going, Steiner has been keeping his pre-season pep talk for the two young drivers on hold – so they remember all the key points when it matters.
“I will explain to the boys what is important and what is not,” said the 56-year-old Italian. “We will do that during the tests. We have enough time there.
“If I tell them something in December, the boys will forget it by February. But there won’t be a big speech.
“Hopefully we will see the car is good during the tests. Then it’s much easier to explain things like that.”
Schumi’s usual second year ‘jump’ may not happen
Mick Schumacher's second year 'jump' may have already happened according to Guenther Steiner.