Mercedes F1 team boss Ross Brawn has given his team six weeks to determine its driver line-up for the 2013 season, whereupon everyone will know whether Michael Schumacher’s F1 comeback will continue into a fourth year or come to an end.
Schumacher’s three-year deal with the team comes to an end at the end of this season, but both he and senior figures in the team have indicated their desire to keep the partnership going into a fourth season.
After a rather inconsistent first two years, the 2012 season has been Schumacher’s most competitive, although his first seven races hardly did him justice with five retirements and a pair of tenth-placed finishes for his efforts. He finally broke through to claim his first F1 podium since 2006 when he finished third last time out at Valencia.
Speaking at the latest FOTA Fans’ Forum at Williams’ headquarters last night, Brawn confirmed that a decision would be made before the Belgian Grand Prix, the race marking the end of the sport’s traditional ‘summer break’. The event will also mark 21 years since Schumacher made his Grand Prix debut with the Jordan team.
“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.
“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.”
Should a contract extension fail to be negotiated, then the team is expected to approach Force India drivers Paul di Resta or Nico Hülkenberg, both of whom enjoy strong links with the manufacturer.