Haas F1 Team principal Guenther Steiner says that he’s looking at how Charles Leclerc was introduced into Formula 1 as a template for ensuing that Mick Schumacher reaches his own full potential in the next few seasons.
Schumacher won the Formula 2 title last year and will make his Grand Prix debut with Haas in March.
Leclerc also won the F2 title back in 2017, having already made four F1 practice appearances with Haas the previous season. He went on to spend a year at Sauber before being promoted to Ferrari alongside Sebastian Vettel in 2019.
“I would be pleased if we could get him to have a career like Leclerc’s,” Steiner told Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport this week.
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“Charles also did the first free practice session at GPs with us,” he pointed out. “In the first races with Sauber he wasn’t the fastest, but he learned. In the first races, that’s enough.”
Ferrari has already stated that it has assigned veteran F1 engineer Jock Clear to help Schumacher as a driver coach in 2021.
Clear has also been supporting Leclerc in a similar capacity in recent seasons and will now act as a mentor for other Ferrari Driver Academy prospects such as Robert and Callum Ilott
Steiner admitted that he had to be realistic about what Schumacher and his fellow rookie Nikita Mazepin would be able to do in the first races of 2021: “After the mid-season we will have drivers who will try to compete.”
Schumacher and Mazpin are taking over from Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. Grosjean missed the final two races of the year after his huge accident in the Bahrain GP. He was replaced by Pietro Fittipaldi, who did a solid job but not enough to be a contender for the race seat in 2021.
“I’m optimistic if I think about the work done by us with Fittipaldi,” said Steiner. “He hasn’t driven a racing car for two years and in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi he didn’t make a bad impression.
“The secret is to make few mistakes and drive many kilometres. Going fast comes gradually,” he explained, adding that Schumacher would do well to follow a similar approach in his first F1 races.
“Schumi has grown up in a very competent team like Prema,” he said. “Mick just has to learn and then in 2022 he can show what he can do.
“It will be up to us to provide him with the right car, after that he will have to take his destiny into his own hands.”
Steiner also explained why he had felt it necessary to drop Grosjean and Magnussen in favour of an inexperienced line-up, saying it was a step toward the future.
“In 2022 there will be new regulations that will offer so many opportunities,” he said. “Drivers are the primary asset of a team and a shake-up was needed. We needed drivers who could grow.
“Young drivers are making their mark in F1. I’m thinking of Leclerc, who won races in his second season. And [Lando] Norris, who is doing very well.
“Moreover at a financial level they cost much less than experienced drivers,” Steiner added with his trademark frankness. “We prefer to invest money in the 2022 car, rather than in drivers.”
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