Mick Schumacher has confirmed reports he was only informed of his Haas exit on the eve of the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP, with rumours adding that the conversation took place in a hotel lobby.
Scoring just twice in his two years with Haas, Schumacher was dogged by rumours throughout his second season that it could be his final year. Those were fueled by team boss Guenther Steiner.
The Italian made no qualms about the fact that he was looking at his options for the 2022 championship as the German’s repair bill outweighed his points-scoring finishes.
Mick Schumacher: Everything happened rather late
After months of speculation, Haas announced on the eve of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that they would not be renewing the German’s contract and had instead signed former F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg.
Schumacher wasn’t given much of a warning before the press release was published.
“Obviously, everything happened rather late,” he told the official F1 website.
“I got told the day before the last weekend started that I was not going to be on the grid in 2023. So, it’s a bit late to go and look for other places which obviously isn’t great.
“But yeah, we took that option up which Mercedes had given us earlier that year that if nothing would be opening up, I would have a space here, so that’s what we did and here we are now.”
Left without any options for a Formula 1 race seat, the now for Schumacher involved the former Formula 2 champion following in his father Michael Schumacher’s footsteps as he joined Mercedes.
Although in Schumacher’s case it was a reserve driver, not a race driver.
“I went to Brackley in 2010, maybe,” he recalled. “The first time I really remember was really in 2014 but it was for a sim session at the time.
“Obviously to return there now was obviously in some ways very interesting. To get to see how a big team like Mercedes operates in Formula 1 is something very special.
“But also, to understand now how all the procedures worked having worked one year with them it’s been very mind opening and interesting for me to be part of this.”
Although the 24-year-old was sidelined with his reserve driver role, Toto Wolff and his race drivers were quick to praise Schumacher for his simulator duties on the Friday night of the Spanish Grand Prix that yielded the team’s only double podium of the campaign.
Schumacher in turn highlighted the differences between his Haas and Mercedes’ learnings.
“It’s obviously a very long season so I think we are pretty much at the end here already,” he said. “But the new role is a very different role compared to what I’ve had in the couple of years and especially the last two years.
“In general, I’ve just been trying to embed myself in the team and learn as much as I can to also widen my horizon a bit compared to what I’ve had in the last couple of years, just to whenever needed be ready to jump in.”
He added: “I think that for me what people forget – I was aware of it but it’s still something which you don’t think too much about – is that everybody is human, and everybody has the same insecurities.
“That for me was my biggest learning.
“Some of the questions when driving myself which weren’t answered then, have been answered here. That everybody is going through some stuff especially while racing and it was great to have that experience.
“But also, obviously you know why they are as good as they are because of the approaches they take. It’s great to see also Lewis who has been with the team for so long, the connection he has to the team, they can talk without using words and understand each other and that I think is something which is quite special.
“It’s great that people recognise that, but unfortunately, I’m still here as a reserve driver, not as a prime driver. So, obviously something has gone wrong and sometimes it’s a bit hard to understand.”
This led to the German making the call to swap Formula 1 racing for the World Endurance Championship where he’ll race for Alpine next season.
“I think the important thing for me is not to be outside a car for too long and that’s why we are trying to find a spot where we can race next year,” he said. Things are looking pretty good, [but] unfortunately not for Formula 1.”
F1, though, remains the goal.
“Nonetheless I will be keeping very close ties to Formula 1 and hopefully that will allow me to also prove myself to the people of Formula 1 that I still deserve a chance in the pinnacle of motorsport and that I belong here,” Schumacher continued.
“I know I have to convince other people of my worthiness for this spot. Unfortunately a lot of the contracts are multi-year deals so there is not really an opening for next year. So, it’s a bit of a tough spot to be in, but for 2025 there are a lot more openings and we will have to see.”