Michael Schumacher’s future in Formula 1 will be decided by the end of the summer, with his Mercedes team now evaluating it’s options ahead of making a decision on it’s driver partnership for next season.
The seven-time champion’s contract with the Brackley-based outfit runs out at the end of this season. With both Schumacher and the team having been quoted in recent weeks being quoted as open-minded about whether they will continue or decide to call time on his career; the decision could ultimately have a massive impact on the F1 drivers market which is expected to see a major shift for 2013 with numerous seats at top teams being available.
The comment regarding Schumacher’s future came during a FOTA Fans’ Forum at the Williams factory on Tuesday night. Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said he expected a decision before the end of the summer break about Schumacher’s future.
“We will make a decision this summer,” said Brawn. “We have not talked in depth about the situation but we know it is coming and we have to make a decision soon.
“I think it can be driven from many different ways. But this year Michael has driven the best of the three years he has been with us this time, and it has been frustrating when we should have seen better results on track but there have been problems on the car or the way we have dealt with the races. I think in the next six weeks or so we will have to think about what we want to do next year – and that is the primary decision. Once that decision is made we will then know if we have to start looking around or stick with the drivers we have.”
In the event of Schumacher not staying with the team, Mercedes has been linked with Paul di Resta and Lewis Hamilton. The former being a Mercedes driver in his DTM days and having been helped into F1 by the 3 pointed star. Hamilton of course has been powered by Mercedes throughout his F1 career claiming a world championship in 2008. With his recent issues with the McLaren squad it’s yet to be seen if he could be tempted elsewhere.
Force India’s team principal Bob Fernley has been quoted previously as saying that the team would not stand in the way of its driver leaving if he was keen to move to a more competitive outfit.
“Vijay has said in the past that we know we are not a championship winning team at this point, and we know we have two good drivers in Nico [Hulkenberg] and Paul. If one was encouraged to join the top four we would have to sit down to effect a commercial arrangement. We would not get in the way of the career of a driver but there would have to be commercial agreement in place.”