Guenther Steiner believes that Mick Schumacher is ready to step up at Ferrari if his reserve driver duties require him too, and thinks the German could emulate George Russell's impressive stand-in performance at Mercedes in 2020.
It was announced in December that Schumacher will become one of two reserves for the Scuderia during the 2022 F1 season, a role that he will hold alongside his full-time race seat at Haas. If he is called upon to fill in at Ferrari, Pietro Fittipaldi would temporarily replace Schumacher at Haas.
With Schumacher having been a part of the Ferrari Driver Academy for some time, Haas team boss Steiner feels that this offers a good opportunity for the youngster to give something back to the team.
"When Mattia [Binotto, Team Principal at Ferrari] asked me if that is possible, I said, 'Yeah, sure. It's possible,'" Steiner said in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com.
"In the end, he is an FDA driver, so why would that not be possible? I think it's a good thing for Mick, because he was supported [for a] long time by Ferrari.
"Now Ferrari needs something back, and obviously Ferrari helps us so, in the end, it was just like we did it as partners: 'Yeah, that will work'.
"We have got Pietro. Pietro was happy, because it's another opportunity for him, if Mick has to be the reserve driver for somebody else! So I think, in the end, I didn't have an issue."
A good step for a possible future with Ferrari
Steiner admits that Schumacher's role could prove beneficial for his future, should he ever be given an opportunity to race full-time with Ferrari.
"I think, if he makes it to Ferrari - which I don't know, because I cannot decide that one - it's already a good way into it," he explained.
"Because he has to do some things already how they want them to do, for sure. They will make a seat for him, they will make all this, and he gets to learn [about] the people there, if one day he will be driving for them.
"So, I think there [are] no negatives for anybody. I think that it's almost only positive for everybody."
Could Schumacher be another Russell?
If Schumacher were called upon to fill in for Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz at Ferrari in 2022, Steiner is confident that the Haas driver would be ready for the challenge.
He believes that there is no reason why Schumacher could not perform to the same level of Russell when the Briton substituted for an unwell Lewis Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, a race that he nearly won.
"I would say so," Steiner replied when asked if Schumacher is ready to step into the Ferrari.
"This guy, now he has done one year in a Haas. He finds his way around pretty well. He knows the people at Ferrari.
"How good of a job he does when he's in a Ferrari? I don't know. But look at when George Russell jumped into the Mercedes [in his second year in F1]. It's the same thing, and George did a fantastic job.
"But I think Mick can do something similar if he's given the opportunity."
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