Mick Schumacher replaced by Nico Hulkenberg at Haas F1 for 2023 season

Mick Schumacher Haas Hulkenberg
BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images
0 Comments

Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher, is out at Haas, and Nico Hulkenberg will return to the grid full time next season in his place.

“I would like to thank Mick Schumacher for his contribution to the team over the past couple of years,” Haas team principal Gunther Steiner said in a statement. “Mick’s pedigree in the junior categories was well known and he has continued to grow and develop as a driver in his time with Haas F1 Team. While choosing to go in separate directions for the future the entire team wishes Mick well for the next steps in his career path and beyond.”

Minutes after the announcement was made, Schumacher tweeted that he was disappointed with the decision but hoped to soon return to Formula 1.

“It was at times bumpy but I steadily improved, learned a lot and now know for sure that I deserve a place in Formula One,” Schumacher said. “The subject is anything but closed for me. Setbacks only make you stronger.”

The announcement regarding the last undecided seat on F1’s 2023 grid was hardly a surprise as Gene Haas told The Associated Press in October that Schumacher needed to score points in the final four races of the season to keep his job.

“Mick’s future is going to be decided by Mick. If he wants to stay with us, he’s got to show us that he can score some more points. That’s what we are waiting for,” Haas told The AP. “I think Mick has got a lot of potential, but you know he costs a fortune and he’s wrecked a lot of cars that have cost us a lot of money that we just don’t have.

“Now, if you bring us some points, and you are (Max) Verstappen and you wreck cars, we’ll deal with it. But when you are in the back and you wreck cars, that’s very difficult.”

In the three races since Haas made clear the job requirements, the 23-year-old German has failed to score any points with a best finish of 13th last week in Brazil. Schumacher missed the second race of the season after a brief hospitalization following a crash in Saudi Arabia, and with 12 points scored this season ranks 17th of the 20 full-time drivers.

In two seasons with Haas, where Schumacher was placed by the Ferrari Driver Academy, Schumacher has yet to live up to the hype set by his father’s legacy. He and fellow rookie Nikita Mazepin combined for the worst team on the F1 grid last season, and he’s been outrun all year by Kevin Magnussen, who was brought back to the team when Mazepin was fired following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Haas, the only American-owned team on the F1 grid, has a technical alliance with Ferrari, and Schumacher’s contract with the Driver Academy is up after Sunday’s season finale at Abu Dhabi – removing any obligation on Haas to keep Schumacher in the car.

Schumacher could land in a reserve role with Mercedes – a job Australian Daniel Ricciardo is also chasing – and Esteban Ocon had pushed for Schumacher to get the open Alpine seat before it went to Pierre Gasly.

Mercedes head Toto Wolff admitted the team has interest in the young German after last week’s race.

“I don’t know what the status is with Mick and Haas,” Wolff said after the Brazilian Grand Prix. “But I make no secret of the fact that the Schumacher family belongs with us and that we value Mick very highly.”

Four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel is retiring after Sunday’s race and Schumacher is out, which put F1 in jeopardy of not having a German driver on the grid next season. But Haas replaced one German with another in Hulkenberg, a veteran of 181 F1 starts.

Hulkenberg last raced a full season in 2019 with Renault, then was a substitute driver for two races in 2020 and another two races this year. He was a fill-in this year for Vettel, who missed the first two races of the season with COVID-19, and Hulkenberg finished 12th in Saudi Arabia.

Hulkenberg, who is 35, scored a pole in his 2010 rookie season but has never had a podium finish in F1.

“I’m very happy to move into a fulltime race seat with Haas F1 Team in 2023,” Hulkenberg said in a team statement. “I feel like I never really left Formula 1. I’m excited to have the opportunity to do what I love the most again and want to thank Gene Haas and Gunther Steiner for their trust. “

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
0 Comments

More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”