Damon Hill believes Mick Schumacher’s F1 debut season was “very difficult to judge” – and will defer any assessment until he has a more competitive car.
That Schumacher failed to score points in 2021 did not come as a surprise because the Haas team declined to upgrade their car, putting all their development focus on creating a stronger challenger for the new 2022 regulations.
Therefore, although he engaged in the occasional battle with another backmarker, e.g. a Williams, the German driver could only really be measured on how he fared against his team-mate, Nikita Mazepin, and in qualifying – and there were plus points on both of those counts.
Nevertheless, Hill, the arch-rival of Mick’s father Michael Schumacher in the mid-1990s, did not see sufficient evidence to properly assess the talents of the 22-year-old, who will also be the reserve driver for Ferrari at selected grands prix in the forthcoming campaign.
“He has been given the opportunity to learn without too high expectations,” the 1996 World Champion told Motorsport.com. “And therein lies directly the biggest problem.
“He’s in the spotlight but he’s just doing his own thing. He seems to be able to stand up for himself, and from the team I’ve only heard good things. He works hard, he understands what is needed.
“He needs to get to a more competitive team at some point. Maybe that will be Haas next season.
“But he was a bit hidden on the back row. We can’t make a judgement on it. It’s very difficult to judge his performance.
“And yes, he is nice. He always says hello. I wasn’t very close to Michael…well, on the track it got very close sometimes, but not socially. He’s maybe a bit more worldly than his dad was at the time he started.”
Hill also passed comment on the ‘Schumacher’ documentary, in which Mick, his mother Corinna and other members of the family spoke about the seven-time former World Champion.
“I see it mainly as a love letter from Corinna,” said Hill, who finished runner-up to Schumacher in the 1994 and 1995 World Championships before taking the crown the following season, after the title-holder had moved from Benetton to Ferrari.
“It showed the human side, a side we didn’t see when we raced. His tough side was not shown.
“But how can you show an overall picture of a human being? You can write as many biographies as you like or make many documentaries – they are all snapshots.
“What happened is absolutely tragic and I sympathise with the Schumachers for what happened to Michael. You don’t wish that on anyone. Life is full of unexpected and unpleasant surprises.”