Mick Schumacher wants to use the pressure he is facing in Formula 1 as motivation as his Haas team says he cannot afford to repeat his costly crashes.
Schumacher has had two big accidents in the first seven rounds of the 2022 season, in Saudi Arabia and Monaco, which has followed a rookie campaign in which he impressed with his performance but also had multiple crashes.
The first of this year’s crashes was so big it stopped him from racing in Saudi Arabia and immediately pushed Haas beyond its planned budget allowance for damage repairs.
After Schumacher’s second crash, which ended his race in Monaco with the car split in two, team boss Guenther Steiner said in the team’s post-race press release that Haas needed to “work out where we go from here”.
Asked by The Race in Azerbaijan if that was simply a reference to stopping crash or potentially more serious like Schumacher’s long-term future, Steiner said: “It’s a combination of all what you said.
“There’s a combination that it’s just not possible to continue to do it like this.
“He knows that. I mean, because it’s also crashing into a wall at some stage is also not healthy, you know?
“There is all these things. And obviously, he wants to score points. And if you crash into the wall, you don’t score points.
“There’s a lot of things going on. There is not one simple answer.
“When I said we need to see how we go forward, I mean there’s a lot of things we have to sort out now.”
Schumacher is yet to score a point while team-mate Kevin Magnussen, who replaced Nikita Mazepin between the two pre-season tests, has 15 and a best finish of fifth.
However, the need to stop the crashes is a greater concern for Haas and Schumacher than the results.
Schumacher admitted that there is now a need to be “a bit cautious” because the team has to be “conservative with some of our parts because you do end up running low on some stuff”.
He said the pressure he feels this season is the same as he has faced before but he may now need to “use it in a different way”, calling it “more motivating and giving me more of a different dynamic”.
Asked by The Race if there are parallels with his title-winning Formula 3 and Formula 2 seasons, which both kicked into life in the second half of the year, Schumacher agreed.
“It’s a matter of being in the right spot at the right time,” he said.
“I’ve said this since quite a while, I’ve had these circumstances before, such as in Formula 3 on Formula 2, where I started off in a very difficult position, and then got a lot of pressure.
“And that kind of just made me go quicker. So…feed the pressure!”
Steiner has admitted that another Schumacher crash will prompt a “serious conversation” because of what’s at stake for the team in terms of cost and production of parts.
However, he is wary that putting more pressure on Schumacher could backfire.
“If I need to sit down with him, and explain he shouldn’t crash, we shouldn’t have this conversation,” said Steiner.
“He knows that, so putting pressure on and telling him you shouldn’t be crashing – I don’t do that. I never do that. Because I think they know that they shouldn’t be cashing.
“This is a sport, it’s very competitive. And it’s easy to overstep a little bit your mark, and you’ll make big damage, especially on these races like Monte Carlo, Jeddah, here [Baku], Montreal is another one, Singapore.
“So, you do have to take a certain amount of risk. And it’s up to me to decide and find the right margin.
“It’s probably something which, maybe in some ways, I haven’t just yet. But there are other circumstances also playing a role in that.
“It’s just a matter of dialling that in. And we’ve had moments before where we had very good races, but weren’t rewarded for it.
“And if I did get rewarded for it, I think we would have a bit of a different conversation right now about these things.”
Schumacher’s Ferrari engine survived his Monaco crash but the gearbox needs replacing and the chassis has had to be repaired.
Steiner said that Haas was struggling to keep up with parts production, especially after such a big repair job post-Saudi Arabia, and that partner Dallara and major component supplier Ferrari had been a huge help in meeting the challenge.
That mix of production pressure and the financial cost of building new parts is also significant as Haas readies its first major update of the season, and plans the rest of its development for the year.
“Something else has to give, you cannot keep on just spending money you haven’t got,” said Steiner.
“We spoke about that. But I don’t go into explaining to him how I need to run the team. I think he knows that this is not good for the team.
“If I would have to explain that to him, he shouldn’t be here. I mean, obviously he sees what is damaged. And he reads what you guys write.
“Everything [must be sacrificed] a little bit, there is not one thing which has to be sacrificed.
“We are early in the season. So, you can still hope that you can make saving somewhere else because we are this early.
“But if we continue like this, you run out of time and money to make the savings.”