2022 F1 driver rankings #18: Mick Schumacher

2022 F1 driver rankings

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It’s little coincidence that the three drivers who were compelled to leave the Formula 1 grid at the end of 2022 occupy the bottom three positions on the RaceFans driver rankings for the season.

But of the trio, Mick Schumacher perhaps has most reason to feel frustrated at not being offered another chance.

Schumacher’s rookie season at the highest level realistically amounted to little more than a year-long test session. With zero development on their 2021 car, Haas threw all of their available resources into their 2022 machine for the Formula 1’s new era.

While Schumacher could do little more than drive around at the rear of the field all season, he did at least have the benefit of a having a team mate whose skills behind the wheel were about as poor as his father was rich. Nikita Mazepin was no match for Schumacher, who out-performed him in every category to head into 2022 with the clear psychological advantage.

However, by the time Schumacher arrived in Bahrain for the opening race, it was not Mazepin who sat opposite him in the garage, but veteran Kevin Magnussen. Suddenly Schumacher had a true benchmark to compare himself against as well as someone experienced to work with to make the most of their extensively developed new car. A car that, as it turned out, was more than capable of scoring points.

But over the opening part of the season when the Haas was easily as its best, Schumacher simply failed to make the most of its potential. Over the first four rounds, Magnussen racked up 15 points, including a remarkable fifth place in Bahrain. In the same span, Schumacher did not record a single top 10 finish.

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Mick Schumacher, Haas, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022
Schumacher withdrew from Jeddah race after crashing
The first major setback came in Jeddah. Schumacher’s ugly accident in qualifying was possibly the most violent impact suffered by any driver all season, destroying his car and earning him a trip to hospital. While he was thankfully deemed fit and well, his car was anything but. With so few spares on hand, Haas opted to sit Schumacher out of the race, leaving him merely a spectator as Magnussen took ninth to secure the team’s second consecutive points finish.

After a disappointing weekend for Haas in Melbourne, where Schumacher was at least able to pass Magnussen in the final laps to finish ahead, the second-year driver then endured what was likely his worst run of the season. In Imola, he qualified eight places behind Magnussen, then spun into Fernando Alonso at the first chicane. He then spun again at the Variante Alta and finished ahead of only Daniel Ricciardo, who had spent the entire race with a damaged car.

In Miami Schumacher was on course for his first ever points after the last Safety Car, before a clash with Sebastian Vettel destroyed any hope of him finally adding to his team’s tally. Spain was another weekend where the team lacked pace, but at least Schumacher achieved the milestone of reaching Q3 in qualifying for the first time.

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Then it was Monaco and possibly Schumacher’s low point of the season. After successfully navigating the wet start to the race, he lost control entering the Swimming Pool and slammed into the barrier, splitting his car apart for his second major wreck of the still-young season. Schumacher’s repair bills were now starting to add up. Team principal Guenther Steiner made no secret of the fact that given the constraints of the budget cap Schumacher had to avoid any shunts for the remainder of the season.

Mick Schumacher, Haas, Monaco, 2022
Monaco was a low point…
Fortunately for Schumacher, his form picked up after this brutal low. Racing at Montreal for the first time, he secured his best grid position of his career in sixth just behind Magnussen. Unluckily, hydraulics failure forced him out of the race just 19 laps in while running well inside the points. Surely it would not be long before he was finally rewarded with his first points?

At the very next round at Silverstone, the long-awaited breakthrough came. Despite falling to the back in the early laps, he caught and passed his team mate on his way to eighth. In truth, he was unlucky to finish behind Max Verstappen after being shoved off the track on the final lap, but this looked like a long-awaited turning point.

In Austria, he seemed a new Schumacher. He was unhappy his team did not use Magnussen to help him in the sprint race but then passed his team mate during the grand prix to move up to seventh, which became sixth after Carlos Sainz Jnr retired. Back-to-back points had suddenly transformed the narrative over Schumacher’s season and left him in charge of his own destiny over the final half of the season.

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Mick Schumacher, Haas, Red Bull Ring, 2022
…but sixth in Austria was the highlight.
But that strong performance at the Red Bull Ring was the final time he finished in the top half of the field. Haas were struggling to keep up with the development rate of their rivals and were falling down the order, getting the boost of their sole major upgrade package around the summer break.

Schumacher used it to good effect at Zandvoort, being comfortably the better of the two Haas drivers over the weekend but losing eight seconds with a front jack problem in the pits. Then at Monza, he had a grand total of just 17 laps over practice but showed impressive race pace on medium tyres to bring himself into contention for points just outside the top 10 behind the Safety Car, only for the race to never restart.

That was as close as Schumacher came to points for the rest of the year. He only finished ahead of his team mate a couple of times over the final six rounds and gave Haas a few more reasons why they should consider another driver over keeping him for 2023. He crashed again in Suzuka on his way back to the pits after first practice, then picked up a track limits penalty at Circuit of the Americas. At least in Mexico, he managed to beat Magnussen across the line by less than two seconds.

Then came the most awkward moment of the season in Brazil. While Schumacher was eliminated slowest on a drying track in Q1, admitting he just did not realise how much grip there was, his team mate rode his car and a slice of good fortune all the way to pole position. As great a moment as it was for the team, the contrast between Schumacher and his team mate could not be more striking. Days later, his departure was finally confirmed.

Schumacher has certainly shown he can fight for points when his car is capable – only not at a consistent enough level. In a long season, it was ultimately his inability to capitalise at the early phase of the year when Haas were at their best relative to their rivals that likely cost him his place on the Formula 1 grid. Whether he will get a second chance remains to be seen.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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27 comments on “2022 F1 driver rankings #18: Mick Schumacher”

  1. It’s little coincidence that the three drivers who were compelled to leave the Formula 1 grid at the end of 2022 occupy the bottom three positions on the RaceFans driver rankings for the season

    Would be interesting to know which was the highest ranked driver to lose their seat the next season (lose, not retire). My guess is will be a toss-up between Hulkenberg in 2010, Ocon in 2018. Perez in 2020 would have been the highest level out there had Red Bull not thrown him a lifeline.

    1. At their today’s form I still rank Vettel a better choice than Ocon and Hulkenberg :)

      To make the question more accurate, to help others to answer you, what do you mean by “highest ranked”??
      A) highest championship finish ever at the season of the sacking
      B) a driver rating, like the annual one here (and this rating considers the current season)
      C) a driver’s maybe perceptual rating, which rates the driver at the date of the sacking, but rates his whole career up to that date (maybe there came another team to save the driver, like RB in the case of Perez). In similar cases, the perceptual ranking or rating, can change in the remaining part of the career.

      What’s up with those drivers who had been given a second chance by another teem? Are you only interested in those who were dropped from F1 for good? Because, if not: Prost was sacked at Ferrari, and Hill was sacked at Williams. And of course good drivers are often picked up by another team in similar cases, this happened to them too.

      If we can include a sabbatical (but how long?), instead of dropping out for good, then there is Raikkonen.

      Then Kobayashi was an improving midfield driver when he god quite suddenly dropped. Considering his later career at WEC, he is a honorable mention here. Maybe Nakajima as well, for similar reasons, but he achieved less during his short F1 career, and had a bad last season compared to his teammate, Rosberg.

      And of course whether these are sackings, or just non-renewals? Similar questions are and were often decided by the good old who-has-the-money-to-hire-the-more-reputable-law-specialist(s).

      As Vettel could have stayed, and formed a nice and strong pairing with Alonso at Aston, and mostly fits all of the requirements, I pick him.

      1. I pick Nico Rosberg in 2016.

      2. What about Schumacher in 2006? He was probably as good as he ever was. I have no doubt he would’ve won 2007 and 2008 if Ferrari had kept him.

        1. No. In 2006 Schumacher wasn’t as good as he ever was. But still as good as an Alonso or Hamilton. Probably Alonso was a bit better that season. In his absolute peak(1991-2001 or 1994-2001) Schumacher was undoubtedly the best driver on the grid by a distance and was ultra consistent. And made his teammates look pathetic. His absolute prime for me would be 1994-1997.

      3. Well, but Malith, Keith Campbell, in case of Michael Schumacher in 2006, or Rosberg, had these been sackings?
        In my longer comment, I mainly tried to collect sackings, or quite unexpected non renewals. I just tried to come up with something, and tried to make Sumedh’s question a bit more accurate or a it more formulated.

        In this aspect I considered the somewhat forced or surprising non-renewals, or the “driver could have stayed on merit” cases as sackings. This is why I came up with Vettel. Imo he is still good enough to race in a midfield team if he is entirely welcome and wants to do so, so maybe he have been a bit nudged.

        On the other hand, you are both right, those were nice “last” seasons from at least good drivers in great shape. Imo had MSC wanted to stay, he could have done so.

        About the older eras, much before the nineties, I have no idea, as I have not seen them live.

        1. “Imo he is still good enough to race in a midfield team if he is entirely welcome and wants to do so, so maybe he have been a bit nudged.”

          Rosberg and Schumacher was undoubtedly still good enough to fight for the title when they left and better than Bottas or Kimi/Massa who replaced them. While for Vettel, Stroll is a low benchmark isn’t he?

          1. Yes, a low benchmark. But he outscored him quite easily. I expect something similar at Alonso vs Stroll, especially that maybe the new car formula not really fits or tastes good to Stroll. Although maybe he is just slow to adapt.

            I mean, in case of Michael Schumacher and Rosberg, retiring was more of an own decision, while at Vettel, I think after his weaker start of the season it was maybe more of a team management decision, or at least the team and the management played a large part in the decision of Vettel.

            Altohugh I would like Alonso and Vettel as a pairing. They are very marketable veterans, maybe not for a (bit too short term) return of investment oriented and shy manager, because they are not shy to speak out, but they have their fanbase as well. Also they are quite good friends now, it could be like an Alesi vs Berger, so something legendary, even if they would not win anything huge.

        2. @Jockey Ewing-You could argue Schumacher was pushed out in 2006. They were trying to bring Kimi in and some reports say Schumacher didn’t want Massa to get the sack after just one year so walked away from the sport. While for Vettel almost all of the fanbase would say he walked by his own accord because it’s not worth it to fight for minor points positions and sacrificing valuable family time

  2. It’s little coincidence that the three drivers who were compelled to leave the Formula 1 grid at the end of 2022 occupy the bottom three positions on the RaceFans driver rankings for the season.

    This statement is backwards.
    It’s little coincidence that RaceFans chose the three drivers leaving the F1 grid as the worst of the season, as it’s very easy to be so lazy.

    It’s also no coincidence why they are leaving the grid (and isn’t because RaceFans think they were terrible) – one was there primarily for financial reasons anyway, one was there largely due to marketing (the family name carries a very high value, provided they can live up to it) and the third is at the wrong end of his career to be accepting backmarker drives, as there is no way forward again from there at that age. It’s better to not be on the grid at all.

    1. José Lopes da Silva
      9th December 2022, 22:39

      Is it lazy to just assume that 2+2=4? Why not work a little more and eventually find something else?

  3. Rankings like this are always going to be subjective, but I must say that I agree so far. Schumacher did suffer some rotten luck in a couple of races he could have scored points at, but had he been consistently better from the outset, he wouldn’t have needed the luck. Compare him to Alonso for example who consistently drove well, but consistently had terrible luck!

  4. I actually did a race by race rating, and Mick did much better overall. That is his main problem – negative perception, not helped by his own team. Mick was more often than not better than his team mate, in a phase where Haas was not really scoring the points. I am not saying he had a good or decent season, but surely overall better than Yuki Tsunoda (who had nine poor weekends, against six Mick ones) and Zhou, who had seven poor weekends. One might even argue that Mick was slightly better than Kevin, over the whole season.
    So I think this evaluation of him is a bit tough.
    Mick only had two great weekends (Silverstone, Spielberg), that is true.
    But Yuki arguably had only one, in Australia. And Zhous Canadian GP is his only one I rated 8 or above.
    Lance had none, but quite a few above average ones, which is why I ranked him in front of Mick, P14.

    1. Biased and rubbish. What about Yuki in Imola, even Abu Dhabi despite not scoring a point. He was in the running for solid points in Baku before his DRS failed

    2. Yes. Biased. Besides 2 exceptions, Mick was faster when Kevin had issues. Damaged diffues. Engine that had to be run in low mode setting, 3 black/orange flags, etc.

  5. Biased AND rubbish? Nice tone, dude.

    I guess, to a certain point everything is biased. I have been doing this for years though, and for myself.
    It’s not always about points or no points, it is about performance relative to car and team mate.

    I did notice a mistake with my excel, though, and I did rate Yuki highly in Imola. He moves to P15 in my list, above Mick, so thanks for the heads up.

    Abu Dhabi I found a good race and race weekend, but not great. There, opinions might differ. He did have just still too many mistakes in him, although he was much closer to Pierre. That is similar to Mick, who had too many mistakes but was generally close to Kevin.

    1. Gasly shows up at P13 for, with 6,23 as an average. I have Yuki at 6,03; much improved from his first season.

  6. As I expected

  7. Coventry Climax
    9th December 2022, 12:15

    As I. And in the case of Schumacher and Latifi, from the day they entered F1.

  8. Congratulations to those of you who managed to make it all the way to the first sentence to make your comment, instead of the title.

  9. I think the ranking is fair but there were some extenuating circumstances to his performance that meant he perhaps did deserve one more chance on the grid and might yet get it again in future. For me you could write off last year as the Haas was awful and Mazepin offered no real competition or barometer from which Mick could measure his success or failure. Partnering with Magnusson gave him his first opportunity to compare himself to a experienced and solid F1 driver and he seemed to develop a lot as the season went on.

    Unfortunately for Mick though he suffered the same fate as Zhou which mean by the time he actually had started to get to grips with the car he’d already lost the prime part of the season when his car was at it’s best before they dropped back in the development race (as Haas always do). I actually looked on this year as his real rookie year and for me when you take it in that context it was disappointing but not unexpected when facing a decent teammate.

    I think he showed enough that he will likely get another chance in the future but that’ll be his last opportunity in F1 unless he delivers from the off. While I thought Haas should have stuck with him for another season, I actually think long term for his career he might be best not being under the watch of Steiner who is hardly renowned for building confidence in his drivers.

    You could maybe switch him and Ricciardo round but I think the bottom 3 drivers is correct for me.

    1. Indeed, it could be a better chance than a 3rd year at haas, if he actually gets it, which I think he’s deserving of.

      Ranking wise I can see a case to rank him above zhou and\or tsunoda, but since that didn’t happen, I find it correct that ricciardo and latifi are behind.

      Also agree in regards to his first season not being very good to learn stuff, with a team mate unworthy of f1 and a terrible car.

  10. Didn’t do so bad (with a HAAS), probably would have beaten Merc #2 pilot with the same machinery but so it goes

  11. If we cut Zhou some slack for his first ever races inconveniently lining up with the part of the season when Alfa Romeo was most competitive, the 18th spot in the ranking was always likely to be Schumacher. In his best weekends he was still only a bit ahead of Magnussen. Couple that with too many (costly) incidents at an infamously stingy team, and his replacement was almost inevitable.

    For the next couple of drivers, it’s going to be tough not to let the respective performances of the cars colour the perception too much. From the outside it’s not always possible to tell what the car could have achieved, so it’s a challenge to give a proper ranking to this big group of guys in the middle of the field.

  12. Judging the cars he destroyed he should be below Lattiffi.

  13. Would have gone with Zhou here. Yes a rookie, but in what was a better car than the Haas he was outscored by Schumacher and that was in the middle of the season, so Schumachers experience counted for less. Schumacher also trended to be closer to Magnussen on his own accord more than Zhou did against Bottas who regressed a lot in form by the midpoint of the season. Schumachers points also helped Haas gain 8th in a very close run with Alpha Tauri.

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