Ralf’s very short list for Mazepin’s replacement

Michelle Foster
Oscar Piastri wearing headphones watching testing. Barcelona February 2022

Ralf Schumacher has urged Haas to try to sign Alpine’s reigning Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri as Mick Schumacher’s new team-mate.

Just two weeks before the start of the 2022 championship and Haas are a short a driver.

The team parted ways with Nikita Mazepin on Saturday, dropping the Russian driver and title sponsor, Uralkali, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The team has already announced that reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi will be behind the wheel of the VF-22 at this week’s Bahrain test but team owner Gene Haas wants a driver with a “bit more actual experience” for the season.

What Schumacher wants is someone who can push his nephew to the next level.

He suggests Alpine’s reserve driver Piastri.

“I can only wish for Mick that he gets someone with whom he can achieve even more together in the team, who above all fits into the team,” Motorsport.com reports him as having told Sky Germany, adding that it needs to be someone he can “still learn” from.

Despite winning three titles in succession, ending that run with last year’s Formula 2 championship title, Piastri has found himself on the sidelines this season.

With no seats available at Alpine, and without the financial backing of someone such as Guanyu Zhou, he’s spending the 2022 season watching Formula 1 with a bit of testing thrown in.

Alpine junior driver Oscar Piastri. Qatar November 2021.

But whether Alpine would be open to releasing him for a season remains to be seen.

One name that Schumacher has crossed off the short list is super sub Nico Hulkenberg.

The German filled in at Racing Point in 2020 and impressed many in the paddock but it wasn’t enough to earn him a comeback.

“I cannot imagine that team boss Guenther Steiner would reactivate his old contacts with Nico Hulkenberg and bring a second German into the team,” he said.

“I would be surprised.”

He’s also ruled out Fittipaldi getting the seat although the Brazilian has twice raced for Haas, filling in for Romain Grosjean at the final two races in 2020.

“I can’t imagine that you will necessarily start with Fittipaldi,” Schumacher added. “But well, we’ll see.”

Haas have already quashed concerns about the team’s future after losing Uralkali’s millions.

Speaking to The Associated Press earlier this week, Haas said: “We’re good. We’re fine. We’d like more money, of course, but we’re fine. This just gives us a bigger negative number.”

 

That has Schumacher hoping that Haas won’t be selling the race seat to just anybody.

“Steiner said that the fact that the team is wonderfully financed has no direct influence,” he said.

 

PlanetF1 verdict

 

Ralf Schumacher names his Mazepin replacement

Ralf only has what's best for Mick in his mind, so for him, Piastri would be the ideal team-mate.