Haas is under fire for depriving Mick Schumacher of crucial track time after the team revealed Antonio Giovinazzi would participate in two FP1 sessions this season.
On Monday, Haas announced that Giovinazzi, 28, would participate in both the Italian Grand Prix and the United States Grand Prix. This confirmed Giovinazzi’s return to the F1 paddock.
While several full-time drivers have stepped aside for FP1 this season, it has been due to a new F1 rule that mandates rookies drive in two sessions every year.
Giovinazzi who is currently racing in the 2022 Formula E championship and also taking an F1 reserve role, was asked to switch back to an F1 car at Monza and Austin, according to Haas boss Gunther Steiner, who also confirmed that Ferrari had made that request.
With 62 F1 race starts, Giovinazzi is by no means a rookie, prompting some to wonder why Haas chose to give the Italian the track time.
Former Mercedes Benz Motorsport vice president Norbert Haug is one person who has criticized the move, claiming that the American team was depriving Schumacher of crucial track time. Both the German driver and Kevin Magnussen, his teammate, will miss one FP1 session each.
“Every kilometre a driver doesn’t get, doesn’t help him on the race weekend,” Haug told Sky Sports News in Germany. “I don’t know if there is a contractual agreement with Ferrari, but a team like Haas should be concentrating on its own drivers.”
Whether Schumacher’s contract with Haas will be renewed is unknown given he is in the final year of his current deal. As of late, Daniel Ricciardo has also been mentioned in connection with the German’s seat.
Haas boss Guenther Steiner has increased the pressure on Schumacher by insisting explicitly that he must “earn more points” in order to retain his position with the team for the 2023 season.
“If I say on one side ‘I expect more points’, then a driver must also be able to say ‘I expect more practice’,” Haug said. “He fought with Lewis Hamilton in Austria… He was on a par with a seven-time World Champion.”
“Anyone who can do that is certainly not an untalented backseat driver.”
“If you support a driver and give him the opportunities, then things will progress… A driver is a racehorse, not a plow horse,” Haug insisted. “You have to encourage him.”
Haug anticipates huge things from Schumacher as he returns to a track where he has performed well in the past with the return of Formula 1 from summer break with the Belgian Grand Prix.
“Spa is one of his favourite circuits… He made big breakthroughs there in Formula 3 and Formula 2,” he added. “I have a lot of confidence in Mick.”
Mick Schumacher currently ranks 15th with 12 points in the championship standings behind his teammate Kevin Magnussen who ranks 11th with 22 points.