Uralkali Haas F1 Team racer Mick Schumacher has spoken of his shock at how much downforce F1 cars lose in traffic. The issue was so much of a factor that it caused Schumacher’s teammate Nikita Mazepin to spin out of the Bahrain Grand Prix shortly after the lights went out. For Schumacher, he too suffered a spin although he was able to correct the car and continue his F1 debut unscathed eventually crossing the line in 16th position.
Mick Schumacher, having won the Formula 2 Drivers’ Championship in 2020, is used to running near the front of the pack in races as opposed to as a back-marker. Inevitably though, due to now plying his craft in Formula One driving for Haas, near the back of the grid is where the son of the seven-time F1 Drivers’ World Champion Michael Schumacher is more likely to be found.
Speaking to the team’s official website haasf1team.com, Mick Schumacher reflected on his debut:
“In general, I’d say I was 90 percent happy and 10 percent not – because of the mistake I made, the spin, at the safety car restart. Luckily the car was still drivable, everything was alright so I could keep going and continue to build on my experience through the race weekend. Obviously, after that I went through the C3 and the C2, which felt really good. It was a bit of a shame that I wasn’t in the pack to be able to at least try to be close to the guys for a few laps. Fortunately, I did get through things like blue flags and I caught up to Nicholas (Latifi) – so I was able to feel how it was to follow a car closely and have DRS. Overall, I feel like I’ve learned a lot, and hopefully I’m able to convert that into something positive for the next race.”
Mick Schumacher’s remarks did not stop there and it has now been reported on racefans.net just how taken aback Mick Schumacher was by the way events played out under the lights in Bahrain.
“In general, I’ve learned a ton of new things and we’ve seen that come through in all the meetings we’ve had,” Schumacher said. “It’s always different talking about it and feeling it. There are a lot of things I learned about the tyres, that’s probably the biggest new thing to me,” said Schumacher.
“Also, on things like how much downforce we lose at the start of the race. It’s like going from 100 percent downforce to 20 percent downforce the moment you’re turning into a corner.”
The struggles endured by both racers of the American-owned F1 team were visible to Haas’ Team Principal Guenther Steiner. Nevertheless, the main takeaway for the Netflix Drive to Survive star was much needed mileage being accumulated by one of their two drivers.
“The performance of the team and the car, we know what that will be,” Steiner said. “So the expectations were not high, at least results-wise. I think the two drivers did a good job over the course of the weekend. Obviously in the race Nikita spun out and damaged the car and Mick spun once too – but the whole weekend for them was a learning phase. We need to do more of it, and as many laps as possible, with all that we’ll be fine. It was one weekend from 23. We need to get better and better, work on getting more laps in, and keep learning – that’s the mission.”
Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin are a pair of rookie racers under the spotlight for very different reasons. However, the season has only just begun and there is a long way to go. This point was highlighted by Guenther Steiner in his comments to the media:
“It is quite a big challenge. Formula 1 is a very difficult sport, but we knew the challenge, therefore there’s no big surprise. We decided to do this, and we need to get through it. I just try to see it that the drivers feel comfortable – I don’t try to micromanage them…they have their engineers and they need to work with them on a day-to-day basis, or more accurately on an hour-to-hour basis, not with me. For sure though, in the beginning, I will be well-informed what is happening and try to see where I may need to intervene.
“I’m not doing the job myself; I’ve got good people working for the team which know how to do the job better than me. I just observe what is happening. If there’s a problem I’m there to ask what it is and then I see if I need to do something.”
These comments show that Haas are aware that their drivers will take time to settle in and due to running near the back things will probably get worse before they get better.
For Nikita Mazepin, the Russian racer merely has to complete the opening lap of this weekend’s upcoming Grand Prix in Imola to improve on his performance. As for Mick Schumacher, should he cross the line in 16th or similar, this will demonstrate consistency early on.
As Haas have chosen to focus on 2022, the 2021 season will be a long one for both drivers within their ranks.
With a 23-race season there are still plenty of stories to be written and lessons to be learnt. For now, it appears that both racers will be given time to show what they can produce. One thing is clear though, any improvement on track will more likely be due to the race craft of the drivers - rather than the design of the car itself.