Mario Andretti backs Mercedes reserve Mick Schumacher for F1 return

Mick Schumacher on the grid before the Austrian GP. Red Bull Ring July 2022. Credit: Alamy
Mick Schumacher on the grid before the Austrian GP. Red Bull Ring July 2022. Credit: Alamy

1978 World Champion Mario Andretti has backed Mick Schumacher to make a full-time return to the Formula 1 grid after being dropped by Haas for the 2023 season.

Schumacher will spend this year as Mercedes’ reserve driver after Haas opted to replace the 2020 Formula 2 Champion with veteran Nico Hulkenberg for the upcoming campaign.

The decision put an end to two seasons of struggle for Schumacher, who registered just two points finishes for Haas after making his F1 debut with the team in 2021.

The 23-year-old has already been linked to a return with Audi, who will arrive in F1 via the Sauber team in 2026, and Andretti – whose son Michael is currently aiming to join the grid in conjunction with Cadillac – is hopeful that Schumacher will find a way back into a permanent seat.

He told RTL: “I’m sure that someone will take him. Talents like that don’t go away.

“I think Mick has improved tremendously, especially over the past season. No question. And that was evident in his performance.”

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As the son of seven-time World Champion Michael, Schumacher arrived in F1 under huge scrutiny and Andretti felt he handled that pressure with great dignity, suggesting the “name Schumacher is an asset in every respect” as he targets a return.

“I think he wore it with a lot of pride, no doubt,” Andretti added.

Andretti’s supportive comments come after AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost revealed he had been keen to sign Schumacher for 2023.

He told RTL: “He was an issue [of conversation] for me, personally.

“I would actually have liked to have Mick in the car,” he added, reiterating his view that “Mick is talented and that he also has what it takes to drive successfully in Formula 1.”

Guenther Steiner, the Haas team principal, came under fire in some quarters for what was perceived as his unfair treatment of Schumacher at times over the course of 2021/22.

And he believes the emergence of Nyck de Vries, who served as Mercedes reserve driver before landing a full-time drive with AlphaTauri for 2023, can offer inspiration to Schumacher as he begins his new role.

“I think he is in a good position with Mercedes,” Steiner commented recently. “Mercedes has many sibling teams

“[De Vries] jumped in at Williams and got a regular cockpit at AlphaTauri through this route.

“[Schumacher is] in a good position. I hope for no driver’s sake that he can’t drive. But if there is a possibility, Mick can sit in and drive.

“Sometimes one step back is two steps forward. He’s put himself in a good position with a team where he has the best chance for a regular cockpit in the future.”

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