Haas has finally set a deadline for the naming of Kevin Magnussen’s teammate for 2023 – Abu Dhabi.
In Austin, Dane Magnussen said he thinks Mick Schumacher deserves to keep the seat – indicating that he prefers the 23-year-old over his veteran German countryman Nico Hulkenberg.
“I have no problem with Nico at all,” Magnussen insisted in Mexico.
“I’ve always respected him as a racing driver. I don’t know how he is privately, but I have no opinion on whether he should drive the second car or not.
“What I can say for sure is that Mick is doing a good job,” he added. “He had a few problems at the beginning of the year, then there were a few accidents. But now he’s really stepping on the gas.”
However, team owner Gene Haas warned before Austin that only a string of points finishes would put Schumacher back in pole position to secure the seat.
Team boss Gunther Steiner defended Schumacher’s failure to do that in Austin.
“He’d lost 30 to 40 points of downforce,” he said. “We were on the way to a strong result.”
Steiner also hit back at fans and insiders who have been slamming him in recent weeks and months – including Mick’s own uncle Ralf Schumacher.
“It doesn’t affect us,” he said. “You just have to look at who says something like that.
“I also have my opinion about certain people, but I don’t have to express this opinion all the time.”
Fascinatingly, former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher is suddenly tempering his criticism of Steiner.
“He protected Mick after Austin, which I think is great,” he told Sky Deutschland.
“Gunther has also become a lot more forgiving lately in many ways. There have been a lot of insults against the Haas team this season and also against Gunther personally on social media, which I think is a shame.
“One thing is clear – we all want Mick to drive in Formula 1 next year. He’s also showing his performance and it’s nice that they’re getting along better at Haas.”
Mick said on Thursday that he is trying to “ignore” the speculation about his future for now, but even Ralf admits that a sabbatical and reserve seat is a possibility.
“But of course it’s better for his development if he were to sit in a Formula 1 cockpit full time,” he admitted.
At the very least, certainty is now finally around the corner, with Steiner setting a deadline for the driver decision.
“In Abu Dhabi we want to know who will be driving our car next year,” he said. “Then this driver can also complete the test after the finale.”