Schumacher praises ‘big, big steps’ from Haas in Portugal, but laments not getting Latifi pass done earlier
Haas rookie Mick Schumacher had a rare opportunity to get his elbows out at the Portuguese Grand Prix, as he overtook the Williams of Nicholas Latifi three laps from the race end. But while Schumacher said that fighting the Williams cars was a sign of the “big steps” Haas had taken this year, the German felt he’d wasted the potential to finish higher than his eventual P17.
A lock-up from Latifi into Turn 3 at Portimao allowed the waiting Schumacher to nip past the Canadian, to claim a 17th place that he’d hold onto until the flag. But had he achieved the pass earlier, Schumacher felt, he could have been in a position to dice with his fellow former Formula 2 champion George Russell, who came home 16th – but also a lap ahead.
“We had a lot more pace it seemed, and it was unfortunate we didn’t get by [Latifi] earlier because I think we probably had a decent race in terms of lap time ahead of us,” said Schumacher. “We’d maybe have even caught up to George or who knows.
“But I feel like we’re big, big steps forward from where we were at Imola. And if we keep on doing those steps, I think we’re going to be in a very good place at the end of the year.”
Asked whether he’d been surprised to be in the hunt with Williams – with Haas’ VF-21 having been off the pace of their Grove rivals so far this season – Schumacher responded: “I was very surprised to see George so close to us. Obviously he started P11, so I don’t really know what happened.
“It was quite a chaotic race to begin with. But as I said, we’re creeping up there, and getting closer every day. The team is working so hard to really give us the car that we need, and I feel like with every day, we’re getting closer to having that perfect car.”
Meanwhile, Schumacher’s team boss Guenther Steiner took his young driver’s frustration at not getting the Latifi pass done earlier as a sign of Haas’ “progress” in 2021 – a word Steiner appreciated he’d been overusing this year…
“It was a weekend with progress. I know I keep on using the word progress, but that is what we need to make, and we’re doing it,” said Steiner. “The whole weekend was good in my opinion. When you sit there and you can’t get by Latifi, frustration sets in – and that’s a good thing as it means we could have more.
“In the end Mick passed him, and that was good, but maybe we missed out on George being on the radar if we’d passed Latifi earlier – but we take it step by step.”
It was a tougher race for Schumacher’s team mate Nikita Mazepin, who apologised to Red Bull’s Sergio Perez after blocking the frontrunner while being lapped on Lap 45, with Mazepin finishing over a minute behind Schumacher and Latifi in P19.