Haas’ Mick Schumacher and Team Principal Guenther Steiner have revealed the main factor in the decision to pull Schumacher from F1 Saudi Arabian GP after he suffered a high-speed crash in qualifying.
Schumacher lost control of his car in Q2 whilst attempting to secure himself a spot in Q3 in the much-improved 2022 Haas VF-22. In a sickening accident broadcast live worldwide, the German ran slightly wide over the raised kerb on the exit of Turn 10, beaching the car momentarily which sent the car violently left and towards an unfortunately angled and unforgiving concrete wall.
After hitting the wall sidewards with a 33G impact, the car eventually came to a standstill on the exit of Turn 12 after sliding down the barriers. Remarkably, Schumacher escaped without an injury and was discharged from hospital the same night after being airlifted as a precaution.
Team boss Steiner has since explained the extent of the damage to the VF-22 going into the Australian Grand Prix, where the travel logistics of making it to Australia from the Middle East means teams are tight for time.
“The chassis itself doesn’t seem to be broken,” said Steiner to written media. “The side infrastructure yes, but you can change them. Obviously we need to do a proper check on the chassis but it looks like it is not too bad to be honest. The engine also, I was told from Ferrari, seems to be okay. The battery pack as well. But then all the rest is broken.
“I think the cost is pretty high because all the suspension is gone: except the front left. I think there is still something on there. The rest is just carbon powder. I don’t know money-wise but, between gearbox, the whole bodywork is gone, radiators are gone – $500,000 to $1 million I would say.
“There’s a nominal amount [for spares], but in a racing team, you never can stick to your budget like in a normal commercial business, because you have this risk. You have got obviously a contingency there. But if you have two or three like this: pretty quick your contingency is not there anymore.
“It’s a loss. So you just need to manage. Obviously, I hope we don’t have a lot more of them,” he summed up. Steiner also spoke on how the decision was made to abandon trying to make the race the next day, even with the knowledge that Schumacher wasn’t injured.
“I spoke mainly with the chief race engineer seeing what they think because I didn’t think it was a good idea [to race]. We talked about what was the best way to do it and then spoke with Gene and then made the decision,” said Steiner.
Reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi was touted as being ready to race in Saudi Arabia if a car had been ready, although the Brazilian had not competed in a single session that weekend which would have prevented him from being permitted to start the race.
“I was told that [Mick] was conscious, but I didn’t look into whether [he was conscious throughout the accident]. I didn’t look into that one, and I think it’s not a wise decision to race whatever happened just to try too hard to do something, because for me with the 20 cars we have now starting from pit lane, if mayhem doesn’t break out or a red flag and [you’re not] in the right place at the right time you can not make the points and we have a car that can make the points.
“It’s better to wait for Australia to get the points than try to do something here which will push us back in Australia,” summed up Steiner. Schumacher, who since last season has been joined at the team by former podium finisher in Australia for McLaren, Kevin Magnussen, praised the ongoing pursuit of safety in motorsport and Formula 1, and gave his take on the decision not to race after the accident.
“I feel alright, not too sore either so it just shows the safety of these cars these days to be able to walk away from this. I think 20 years back from this people wouldn’t have been able to do that, so thank you very much to everybody involved in taking the safety up,” stated Schumacher to TV media.
“[The decision was] a combination of a few things, in particular it’s car preservation. We want to be able to race in Melbourne and if something else had happened [in Saudi Arabia] then that might not have been the case. I definitely want to get those points and try to get them in Melbourne.”
Asked on whether the safety of the Jeddah circuit, coined as the fastest street circuit in the world, needs to be looked at more in depth, Schumacher says that discussions need to be had. “There’s things we have to have a look at, and I don’t know what’s happening in the future but if so we have to have a serious discussion about it,” he said.
Here’s the crash of Mick Schumacher: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2022-saudi-arabian-gp-qualifying-mick-schumacher-crashes-heavily-in-q2.1728391002453871553.html
The story was written by Danny Herbert
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