Haug: Schumacher not playing ‘contract poker’

Norbert Haug has denied a game of “contract poker” is shaping up between Mercedes and Michael Schumacher.

Team boss Ross Brawn said this week that Mercedes will decide the identity of Nico Rosberg’s 2013 teammate this summer, prompting reports that – in fact – only Schumacher possesses a unilateral option to extend his expiring contract. The 43-year-old then came out and rejected the notion he will make a decision before October.

“The situation is that we will get together in peace,” Mercedes’ motor racing director Haug told the broadcaster Sky, as the speculation ramps up.

Speaking at Silverstone He denied one party is putting pressure on the other.

“It is very important that there is a mutual decision,” said Haug. “It was rumoured that it is Michael’s choice, but Michael is always the first to emphasise that we must agree as a team.

“There is no ‘contract poker’,” the German said.

He ruled out the possibility that Schumacher could be testing the water on the driver market, Haug insisting that he is “an integral part of the silver arrows” and “not flirting with another team”.

“That means we can allow ourselves the time we need,” said Haug.

He did not say whether Schumacher appears headed for a new contract, or back to retirement.

“We will see. If we knew now, then we would announced it now,” said Haug. “But we are not ready and we are giving ourselves the time we need.”

In fact, Schumacher sounds very likely to race on, comparing his work at Mercedes to the rebuilding phase at Ferrari that led to five consecutive titles.

“I do not see significant differences between what I did then and what I’m trying to achieve here,” the seven time world champion told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Asked if he still has the hunger and ability to race on, Schumacher added: “After retiring and turning 40, I thought my career was over, but here I am!

“I don’t know what will happen from now on, but I’m fit, I have no physical problems and I still feel strong.”

Teammate Rosberg, however, sounded mischievously tired of all the questions he is facing regarding Schumacher’s looming decision.

“Yes, he is staying two years. But he wants 43 million euros, which is crazy,” he told Berliner Zeitung newspaper, before laughing. “Just kidding! I honestly don’t know what he’s doing.”


Haug slams young driver test uncertainty

Norbert Haug has slammed as “ridiculous” the situation surrounding this year’s young driver tests.

The traditional late-season session scheduled for Abu Dhabi in November was called into doubt earlier this year due to the particularly arduous back-end of the 2012 calendar. A test at Silverstone in July was scheduled instead, but Bernie Ecclestone reportedly threw a spanner in the works by reminding teams he has control of the venue in the dates surrounding the British grand prix.

Haug, German carmaker Mercedes’ motor racing chief, said the continuing uncertainty is “ridiculous”.

“Frankly, it’s pretty ridiculous to waste time on such things,” he is quoted by Germany’s motorsport-magazin.com.


Haug tips Vettel to hit back at Webber

Was Monaco the turning point in Sebastian Vettel’s so-far meteoric F1 career?

“Not at all,” Mercedes’ Norbert Haug told the German news agency DPA on Wednesday.

Almost two weeks ago in the famous Principality, it was Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber who broke through with victory, meaning the Red Bull duo is now level-pegging in the championship. They are just 3 points from Fernando Alonso’s lead. So does Webber’s new form represent the turning poing for Vettel?

“Sebastian did not win two world championships by fluke,” Haug insisted.

Haug is also hoping lucky seven is on Mercedes’ side in Canada this weekend. Like Webber, Michael Schumacher is also enjoying a new run of form, having secured the first pole of his F1 comeback in Monaco.
Luck, however, has not been on his side in 2012, delivering him just 2 points so far.

That’s where lucky seven comes in. If he wins this year, 43-year-old Schumacher would be the unprecedented seventh different winner of the seventh race in a world championship calendar. The great German has won seven titles, seven grands prix in Montreal, and he even carries the number on his silver racer.

“The characteristics of the circuit should suit us, and we are counting on our car performing well there,” said Schumacher.


Haug: We always believed in Schumacher

More than 2000 days after his last pole, Michael Schumacher’s qualifying triumph in Monaco has turned the speculation on its head. Now, his critics have been silenced, and the pundits are having to consider the rising prospect of an even further extended tenure for the sport’s elder statesman.

So it was with a smile that the great German batted away what must be a heartening round of new rumours.

“You imagine that just because of one result I’ve done at this moment I’m suddenly restarting or opening a different subject? No, that’s not the case,” he insisted.

Team boss Ross Brawn, however, swung the door open.

“If Michael keeps going like this then he can be with us forever,” the delighted Briton enthused to Auto Motor und Sport, having admitted to shedding a tear at Saturday’s result.

Germany’s Bild newspaper said the “old Schumi” is back.

“We always believed in Michael,” Mercedes’ Norbert Haug is quoted as saying. “We knew that he was still on it.”

As for the forthcoming talks about a new deal for the 43-year-old, Haug is quoted by Welt newspaper: “We are in no hurry.”

Referring to the 2013 driver market, he added: “It’s like a chess game — when there’s movement, you have to follow.”

New deal or not, Schumacher’s pole triumph – even though a penalty dating back to Barcelona means he will actually start the race sixth – was popular in the paddock.

“I feel bad for Michael that he can’t enjoy his first pole after so long,” Fernando Alonso told Spanish television Antena 3.

It is Mark Webber who inherits the pole, but the Australian insisted: “I think it’s Michael’s day.”

Lewis Hamilton added: “Michael did a really great job. Not bad for an old timer!”

Heikki Kovalainen is quoted by Turun Sanomat: “This was Michael saying ‘Hey, don’t forget me and here I come!'”

In the Times newspaper, Kevin Eason concluded: “The day belonged to the old man.”


Haug denies Mercedes are contemplating quitting F1

Norbert Haug has denied reports Mercedes is on the verge of quitting F1.

London newspaper The Times’ F1 correspondent Kevin Eason reported that the German carmaker has conducted a study into how the withdrawal could be effected. He said the reason for Mercedes pulling out would be because, unlike Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull, the Stuttgart marque has not been offered a place on F1’s post-floatation board.

When asked about Eason’s report, Mercedes’ competition vice-president Haug insisted to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport: “There is absolutely no truth to that.”

The report said negotiations between Mercedes and F1 bosses over the next Concorde Agreement are ongoing. First as an engine supplier only, Mercedes has been in F1 in the modern era since 1993.


Haug dismisses Hamilton rumours

Norbert Haug has dismissed reports linking Lewis Hamilton with a switch to Mercedes for the 2013 Formula one season. Hamilton’s contract expires with McLaren at the end of this season and there has been some speculation that the 2008 F1 world champion could move to Mercedes to replace Michael Schumacher.

“I can dismiss that speculation out of hand, as it was only ever conjured by putting two and two together,” Haug told Sport Bild. “Lewis was and is a Mercedes man but there are no agreements or conversations in that direction.

“At the moment we have one interest only – making our car as fast and reliable as possible, and then we’ll see where we stand. Only then will we talk to Michael about a possible extension.”