Mick Schumacher didn't exactly have the best maiden Formula One season—then again, very few drivers do. Regardless of how extremely uncompetitive the Haas F1 cars were in 2021, the likable German managed to out-perform his teammate Nikita Mazepin and deliver respectable-enough results to maintain his image of F1's Next Big Thing. Said performance is already paying off dividends, as Schumacher has been confirmed as one of two Ferrari reserve drivers for 2022. And in the age of COVID, that could mean a potential Ferrari F1 debut as early as next year.
According to Racer, team principal Mattia Binotto shared his thoughts on his two reserve drivers for 2022. That short list consists of Schumacher and the recently-laid-off Antonio Giovinazzi, who will also be competing in Formula E next year. Due to Giovinazzi's commitments, the Italian will only be the active reserve driver for 12 races, with Schumacher filling in for the remaining 11 rounds of 2022.
“In terms of reserve drivers, obviously Antonio Giovinazzi will not drive in Formula 1 next year, but he will remain our reserve driver for 2022," Binotta said, as reported by Racer. "He will be our reserve driver for 12 races, which is compatible with his Formula E calendar, where he has decided to move, and (about) which we are happy, as that will keep him trained. And he will be available to our customer teams as well, both Haas and Alfa Sauber, so whenever he will be at the race track, he will be available to our customer teams."
“For our remaining 11 races, Mick will be reserve driver for Ferrari, which I think is a great (role). It’s his second season next year, he is a Ferrari driver coming from the academy, we’re very happy he can be part of the team as a reserve driver whenever that will be necessary–hopefully not," Binotto added.
Of course, we're not wishing for anything bad happen to Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz (who has yet to resign a contract with the Scuderia), but should something go awry or one of them test positive for COVID-19 during a race weekend, it would promote Schumacher to his Ferrari F1 debut this coming season.
Schumacher has been part of the Ferrari Driver Academy for several years now and has been deeply involved with the Maranello outfit dating back to his Formula 2 days. As the son of a seven-time F1 world champion, Schumacher's last name has undoubtedly opened doors for him, but it'd be a mistake to say he hasn't earned his success in motorsport.
After winning the F2 championship in 2020, Schumacher was promoted to the Haas F1 team, which is a customer team of Ferrari. This allowed Maranello to further mold, train, and develop the young German without enduring any conflicts of interest with rival teams.
“Mick is part of our Ferrari Driver Academy, which means we are still coaching him as a driver,” Binotto said. “In 2021, he was followed by Ferrari engineers dedicated to our program, to support him in his development, and that will continue into next year.
“The simulator will be available to him in Maranello, but we have an entire program (in place) as still being part of our academy. It’s part of our objective to continuously develop them as drivers, as the final objective is one day if they are able to prove they are capable of being a Ferrari driver.”
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