Track knowledge a boost for Mick’s second season

Jon Wilde
Mick Schumacher ahead of an Alfa Romeo in the Austrian GP. Red Bull Ring July 2021.

Mick Schumacher's Haas ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo in the Austrian Grand Prix. Red Bull Ring July 2021.

Mick Schumacher thinks his knowledge of the F1 circuits in his second season will be a key factor in the improvement he and Haas are expecting to make.

Not unexpectedly, Schumacher and his team-mate Nikita Mazepin both ended their Formula 1 debut campaigns without a point as Haas chose not to develop their car in order to create a much more competitive 2022 challenger.

That may or may not turn out to be the case, but either way there is one advantage the German driver will have over last year – he knows more of the tracks he will be tackling.

Schumacher had experience of some, but not all, of the 2021 circuits from junior categories and there was tangible evidence he was capable of progress once he knew what to expect.

That was offered by the two back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring where, from the Styrian to the Austrian Grand Prix a week later, Schumacher produced the biggest improvement of all the 20 drivers in his qualifying lap time.

Asked if that was what could be expected of him at other tracks in 2022, he told The Race: “Yeah, definitely. This year, I go to venues knowing what to expect, so that means I don’t have to fight my way through the traffic in FP1 and can straight away start developing the car and set-up.

“It’s just super-beneficial that if you start off with a close set-up then you are very quickly, let’s say in FP2, sure of your set-up.

“Then the whole Saturday becomes so much easier because you can just focus on the points you need for qualifying. So my hope is very high for this year and the expectations are also quite high.”

Although there was no actual reward for Schumacher’s endeavours in 2021, he was able to reflect on some “hidden wins” that represented steps in the right direction.

The 22-year-old – he turns 23 two days after the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix – looks back at Turkey, where he reached Q2 on merit, and Qatar in the final third of the campaign as particularly positive weekends.

 

Of Qatar, Schumacher said: “We knew we wouldn’t be the most competitive but actually we were much closer than expected. Those moments are where we gained a lot because of car changes we made.

“If we look further, obviously Turkey. Maybe it was a race that didn’t go to plan, but definitely a qualifying that did. Or the Budapest race, which was one of the strongest we had. We were able to fight with Max [Verstappen] even if his car was damaged.

“So there are hidden wins out there. It’s those hidden wins we took the most energy from and put it into good effort and good work.”

 

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