Mick Schumacher, the son of the seven-time Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher, has taken a race seat for the 2021 season. He will drive for Haas, the completion of a remarkable journey 30 years after his father made his F1 debut.
Schumacher has reached the front ranks of motor racing despite his father sustaining a brain injury in a skiing accident in 2013. The 21-year-old’s progress has been nurtured by Ferrari, for whom his father raced between 1996 and 2006, winning five of his seven world titles between 2000 and 2004.
With Haas enjoying a close relationship with the Scuderia, placing him with the team was seen as a natural move to further his career. The prospect of him going on to match his father by joining Ferrari is very much on the cards.
Schumacher expressed great satisfaction in following in his father’s footsteps. “It is amazing to be racing in the same sport as he did,” he said. “It is a sport we both love so much, so to be able to go a similar path and get to know the sport inside out is amazing. To finally reach my goal and to be one of those 20 drivers is something incredible. I am just really overwhelmed, happy it is confirmed, and that I am going to be standing on the grid next year. It is a dream come true for me, a dream I’ve been chasing since I was three, and now it’s finally happened it’s great.”
Schumacher said his mother, Corinna, had always been confident he would make it. “My mum was actually quite unsurprised when I told her. She was sure I was going to make it. I have always had her support, and the support of all my family.
“It’s quite clear I have been under the spotlight since a very young age due to the sport I do and love, and probably a bit more than usual. But it is something I have been able to get used to. I am able to deal with it well, the results speak for themselves, and I will try to keep the same rhythm that I have now.”
Schumacher was 14 when his father suffered the skiing accident from which he remains in recovery. He began racing in karts when he was nine and made his single-seater debut in 2015. He deliberately made a low-key opening to his career, competing under his mother’s maiden name as Mick Betsch and later Mick Junior. But for his first single-seater outing in a German F4 meeting at Oschersleben he competed as Schumacher for the first time.
He raced in the German F4 series for two years before moving to F3 in 2017. After a season getting to grips with the machinery he won eight of the final 15 races to take the title in 2018. It was a pattern that would become familiar. He moved to F2 in 2019, finishing 12th, but this season leads the championship and is on course to take the title with two races remaining this weekend.
Since that race in Oschersleben he has been under the spotlight and the scrutiny will now become more intense. In December 2014 he had an incident in testing at the Lausitzring speedway that was reported as a “terrifying crash”. He was the star of the show in Germany in 2019 when he took to the track in his father’s Ferrari F2004, delighting fans at the Hockenheimring with a demonstration lap.
He has coped with it well and there is every indication he will continue to do so. Certainly the world champion, Lewis Hamilton, believes he will be able to deal with the step up. “He has got great talent like his dad,” Hamilton said. “So I don’t think it will be a burden.”
Those closest to Schumacher are also confident he has the skills to be successful at the top level. Schumacher competed for Prema Racing in F3 and F2 and their team principal, Rene Rosin, believes the youngster is dealing with his career and life extremely well.
“He is quite relaxed,” said Rosin. “He is mature for his age but he is bringing this weight and dealing with that without any issues. Dedication is one of his greatest strengths. He wants to understand the technical details to perform well. His racecraft is also really good, he almost always makes the right decision. He has a good knowledge of how every change in the car affects his driving style. That’s a good driver characteristic.”
Britain’s George Russell will replace Hamilton for Mercedes at the Sakhir Grand Prix this weekend. Hamilton was diagnosed with Covid‑19 on Monday. Russell is in his second season driving for Williams but is a Mercedes junior driver and has been strongly tipped to join the team in the future. Williams have released him to take a huge opportunity in driving the quickest car on the grid alongside Valtteri Bottas. Williams will use their reserve driver, the British-Korean Jack Aitken.
“I see this as a great chance to learn from the best outfit on the grid right now and to come back as an improved driver, with even more energy and experience to help push Williams further up the grid,” Russell said. “A big thank you also to Mercedes for putting their faith in me. Obviously nobody can replace Lewis, but I’ll give my all for the team in his absence from the moment I step in the car. Most importantly, I wish him a speedy recovery. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and can’t wait to get out on track.”
Romain Grosjean has been discharged from hospital only days after his escape from a violent crash at the Bahrain GP. The Frenchman’s car hit the barriers at 137mph, split in two and was engulfed in flames before he was able to climb from the wreckage. He sustained only burns to his hands. Grosjean will not take part in the Sakhir GP but is optimistic of racing in the Abu Dhabi season finale.