Ferrari could wait until Abu Dhabi to run Schumacher, Ilott

Ferrari juniors Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott will have to wait until the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for their next Formula 1 practice chance, after their Nurburgring runs were abandoned.

Schumacher was supposed to drive in Eifel Grand Prix free practice for Alfa Romeo last weekend, with Ilott in at Haas. However, poor weather conditions meant the opening day of action was called off so the pair did not get to do any laps.

With a run of new venues coming up in F1, plus the F2 season finale taking place in Bahrain, Ferrari sees no chance to get them out again soon. Instead, it thinks it will have to delay their appearance until the F1 season finale.

Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies, who is in charge of its young driver academy, said it would not be fair on Alfa Romeo or Haas if it tried to move aside their regular drivers before then, and it would make no sense to get Schumacher and Ilott out on the same weekend as the F2 title decider.

“With new tracks, nobody has been there,” he said. “We try to be fair and reasonable with our partners, and I don’t think it will be [fair] to run them on completely new tracks, where nobody has any data.

“And because they are going to race in Bahrain, we don’t want to disturb them as they are fighting for the title. So the only chance is Abu Dhabi.

“We’ll be discussing with both Alfa Romeo and Haas to see what is possible. Whether or not it will be possible remains to be seen, but we will be trying very hard to give them that chance. And after that there is the young driver test.”

Schumacher is the most likely junior to step up to F1 next year, and is in the frame to drive for Alfa Romeo. However, Ferrari is still weighing up whether or not to give Antonio Giovinazzi another season at the Swiss outfit.

If Giovinazzi is kept on, with Kimi Raikkonen expected to get the other Alfa seat, then Schumacher could go to Haas. The American-owned outfit is close to deciding its line-up plans, with Nikita Mazepin now a front runner for one of its seats.

Mekies said he has no doubt that both Schumacher and Ilott have what it takes to compete in F1, after their strong seasons in F2 this year.

“We think they are F1 material, these guys, and that’s why they are winning,” he said. “Now are they F1 material to go to Ferrari one day? That’s very much within how much they will develop, in the same way that we feel that they have developed from the raw talent.

“We see that they’ve done one, two, three, ten steps that bring them to their current level. But we are equally conscious that they need ten more of these steps to get to that level.

“But that’s exactly what our job is: to support them and to give them a chance to express themselves and to develop. And you know, a guy like Charles [Leclerc] is now certainly in F1, but he is still making steps.”

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