For the 2021 Formula One season, the Haas F1 Team will be moving forward with two new drivers. While it was very well known that the American outlet was dissatisfied with the performance of current drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, the announcement was tough to see as both those drivers are most likely done in F1.
Replacing the two veterans will be two young F2 graduates, both of whom have no prior F1 race experience. However, they both come with money and experience, two things the Haas team needs.
Let’s take a took at the new kids on the block at the Haas team.
If the last name sounds familiar, that is because it should. Mick is the son of seven-time F1 world champion Michael Schumacher, and in 2020 won the Formula 2 championship by 14 points over Callum Ilott.
While it may seem Schumacher is here on name alone, the 21-year-old German has an impressive racing resume.
Schumacher has two runners up points finishes in Formula 4. In 2016 Schumacher attempted both the German and Italian championships, scoring 5 wins in each and losing the titles to Joey Mawson and Marcos Siebert respectively.
Moving up to Formula 3 in 2017 with Prema Racing, Schumacher claimed the title in only his second year in the series. Winning the 2018 championship with eight wins and also ran the Macau Grand Prix finishing 5th.
For his F2 career, Schumacher would join Prema in 2019. Scoring one win and a 12th place points finish in his first season, Schumacher’s performance lead to a lot of skeptics questioning if he was actually the real deal. He answered those critics in 2020.
Scoring two wins and 10 podiums, Schumacher edged out Ilott in a dramatic finale in Bahrain. This helped the push for Schumacher to be signed to a Formula One team. Alfa-Romeo were considered the front runners to land Schumacher, but when they re-signed their current drivers, Haas picked him up.
To date Schumacher has just a tiny bit of F1 experience, that being a test session during the Eifel Grand Prix in Germany. However, he has yet to run an F1 car in a race. Schumacher fans should be prepared to temper their expectations for the start of something great, keeping in mind that he is still driving a Haas which usually sits at the back of the grid.
“The prospect of being on the Formula 1 grid next year makes me incredibly happy and I’m simply speechless,” said Schumacher.
“I would like to thank Haas F1 Team, Scuderia Ferrari and the Ferrari Driver Academy for placing their trust in me. I also want to acknowledge and extend my love to my parents – I know that I owe them everything.”
The first driver to be announced was young Russian, Nikita Mazepin. The son of Russian oil billionaire Dimitry Mazepin, Nikita most recently drove in F2 for the Hitech GP team.
His career got off to a rather slow start as Mazepin did not really hit his stride until joining F3 in 2016. Scoring a win at Snetterton in the British F3 championship, he would take his talents to GP3 in 2018 and run with ART. Scoring 4 wins, 8 podiums and a runner-up points finish in GP3, Mazepin lost the title by 16 points to the late Anthoine Hubert.
His Formula 2 campaigns were nothing to write home about really, scoring a total of two wins and best points finish of 5th. Mazepin also ran in the F3 Asian Championship, scoring one win and a 3rd place points finish.
It was announced on the First of December that Mazepin would pilot a Haas F1 car in 2021, joining teammate Schumacher.
“Becoming a Formula 1 driver is a lifelong dream come true for me.” Mazepin said.
“I really appreciate the trust being put in me by Gene Haas, Guenther Steiner, and the whole of the team. They’re giving a young driver an opportunity and I thank them for that. I’m looking forward to starting our relationship together, both on and off the track, and I’m naturally keen to continue to demonstrate my abilities after a strong Formula 2 season.”
Mazepin’s Future and the Events of December 9th
To address the elephant in the room, Mazepin’s future with the team could be in jeopardy. On December 9th, a video posted to Mazepin’s Instagram account showed the driver groping a female passenger in his car, which was met with visible resistance from the woman.
This situation now puts Haas stuck between a rock and a hard place. While Mazepin has apologized for his actions and stated that he will do better, Haas deemed the actions “abhorrent” and said the matter is being dealt with internally.
Should Haas let Mazepin go, they will lose millions in funding from Uralchem, the company owned by Mazepin’s father. With the team strapped for cash, the flipside is that they allow him to stay but have their public image eviscerated by the scandal.
This is one of, if not the toughest decision the team will have to make. More news will follow, and Frontstetch will keep this story updates should any news break.
These are the two drivers set to race for Haas in 2021. With Mazepin’s status now in question, I still see him racing for at least 2021.
Schumacher will grow to be the team’s star driver and look to make a good impression on the higher-ups at Ferrari, to which Schumacher is signed to their academy. While the full potential of either driver won’t be truly recognized in a backmarker car, they will look to use George Russell as an inspiration and give it their all out on the track.
Anything can happen in F1, and could very well happen to either driver.