Mick Schumacher has two more opportunities left in the 2022 Formula 1 season to prove he should stay at Haas next season, amid uncertainty about his future.
The German's contract runs out at the end of the year and so far his performances have been lacklustre, in what some are branding his first 'proper' year in F1 after spending his debut season in an underdeveloped Haas VF-21.
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko believes the critical comments from Team Principal Guenther Steiner are enough to point towards him potentially being replaced for next year.
"When you criticise your driver so openly, and that has happened a few times, it shows that no confidence within the team exists. Then it will be difficult to build a future together.
"Judged from the outside, the first half of his season did not seem strong with many serious accidents and incidents resulting in a lot of damage. That of course has major consequences for the team.
"But on the other hand, there are good races in Britain and Austria.
"He managed to improve really well in the second half of the season, sometimes having some bad luck with unlucky Haas strategies and technical problems."
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After Aston Martin signed Stoffel Vandoorne as their official reserve driver, speculation has been high on whether or not Nico Hulkenberg will make an F1 comeback with the American team.
Marko expects the team will likely go for a driver with experience to ensure they finish higher up the Constructors' Championship.
"If there were a great promise for the future, I would bet my money on it, but I don't see anyone who fits that profile. And for the team it says a lot at stake.
"The difference between, for example, eighth or ninth place in the constructors' championship is a difference of 'X' number of millions in terms of prize money. That's why I think Haas are going for a veteran.
"Hulkenberg has the right look and has already proven his worth. Without test kilometers he has repeatedly jumped into the car as a test driver and in that role he has always performed. That speaks for him.
"But for the team the most important question will be: 'who can lead the team stably into the future?"
In the unlikely event that Logan Sargeant doesn't earn enough superlicence points, Schumacher could still have an option at Williams. But it looks certain that he will spend a year on the sidelines, according to Marko.
"It is not inconceivable that he will be on the sidelines for a year as a Ferrari reserve. But several contracts will expire at the end of 2023, so there will be a few seats available."
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