Schumacher ready to emulate ‘idol’ father

Saturday March 27 2021
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By AFP

As the son of the man who until last year was the most successful grand prix driver of all time, the 22-year-old’s path to the top of the sport has long seemed pre-ordained.

And as Michael Schumacher’s son, Mick will have the eyes of the world on him this year like perhaps no other debutant in F1 ever has before. 

Asked how he handles carrying the legacy of his father back into F1, he tells BBC: “It is motivation and pride. I’m happy to be here; I’m happy to have brought back the Schumacher name into F1.

“I have done it with championships on my back so we have proven I am able to drive a race car. So I don’t feel a blink of pressure from it.”

Like father, like son
Schumacher has the wide-eyed optimism one might expect from a young man who has achieved what he describes as “a lifelong dream” and is about to embark on a journey of possibilities. 
“It’s an amazing feeling being with the team and knowing this is it and I’m getting close to my first race in F1,” he says. “I got my pass – you know, the proper red F1 pass – and I was like, ‘Woah!’

“I remember seeing my dad having one and I was always like, I wanted one. I have one now and it’s amazing and I am really looking forward to it.”

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For those who knew or followed his father, watching Mick start out on his journey can be slightly unnerving. The physical similarities between them are strong. Facially, Mick is a mix of his father and mother, Corinna. But he walks like Michael, often holds his head like him, and has a way of holding himself and manner of expression that is very reminiscent of him.

And the similarities go beyond even that. Mick is the same age now as Michael was when he made his debut at the 1991 Belgian GP in a Jordan.
The fact Schumacher embraces the legacy of his father and sees himself continuing a family journey is underlined as he asked F1 to alter its practice of using the first three letters of a driver’s surname as his shorthand on the timing screens.

While Lewis Hamilton is ‘HAM’, Fernando Alonso ‘ALO’ and so on, Michael was ‘MSC’ because at the time there were two Schumachers in F1, along with brother Ralf. That’s not the case anymore, but Mick decided he’d rather continue his dad’s legacy than be ‘SCH’.

“It’s quite emotional for me to see ‘MSC’ on the timing screen again,” he said during pre-season testing. “It’s a special bond I have to it, and I hope it’s nice for everybody to see it there.”

Mick describes his father as his idol, and he decided he wanted to follow in his footsteps from a very early age. He started karting at the age of nine. 

“Obviously, at the beginning you don’t understand what it takes,” he says. “As I grew older and grew in the categories, I understood how much sacrifice it takes.”

There has been steady progress up the motorsport ladder, all carefully overseen by Sabine Kehm, who was Michael’s manager before she became Mick’s.

Kehm was always extremely aware of the attention that would be on Schumacher as his father’s son, and concerned to expose him to the media and public only in a carefully managed way.
 
That situation only became more intense following the skiing accident in December 2013 that left Michael with serious head injuries.

Michael has not been seen in public since, and it is made very clear to everyone who encounters Mick that this subject area is off limits. 

The road to F1
With that name, it was always assumed Mick would make it into F1, and that became even more likely when, having won the European Formula 3 title in 2018, he joined the Ferrari Driver Academy.

After a year in Formula 2 in 2019, Schumacher did what was expected of him last season and clinched the title. For his F1 debut, Ferrari chose to pay for a seat at the US-based Haas team, which has strong affiliations with Maranello.

Ferrari, the team with whom Michael achieved most of his successes, have said their intention is for Mick eventually to race one of their cars. But he has to earn it, prove he is worthy of it, and there is some way to go before that happens.

Mick’s job for now is to learn his trade and prove he has what it takes to succeed at the very highest level. – Agencies


F1 2021 calendar

Mar. 28    Bahrain (Sakhir)
April 18    Italy (Imola*)
May 2    Portugal (Portimao)
May 9    Spain (Barcelona)
May 23    Monaco
June 6    Azerbaijan (Baku)
June 13     Canada (Montreal)
June 27     France (Le Castellet)
July 4    Austria (Spielberg)
July 18    Britain (Silverstone)
Aug. 1    Hungary (Budapest)
Aug. 29    Belgium (Francorchamps)
Sept. 5    Netherlands (Zandvoort)
Sept. 12    Italy (Monza)
Sept. 26    Russia (Sochi)
Oct. 3    Singapore
Oct. 10    Japan (Suzuka)
Oct. 24    USA (Austin)
Oct. 31     Mexico (Mexico City)
Nov. 7     Brazil (Sao Paulo)
Nov. 21    Australia (Melbourne*)
Dec. 5     Saudi Arabia (Jeddah**)
Dec. 12    Abu Dhabi
* subject to World Motor Sport Council approval
** subject to circuit homologation


Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton | Britain
With a record 95 race wins and a record-sharing seventh world title, newly knighted Hamilton has done what many thought was unimaginable – occupy the same lofty pedestal as Michael Schumacher. He is the favourite for record eighth championship.

Valtteri Bottas | Finland
He has emerged as so much more than just a token teammate chasing crumbs off Hamilton’s plate. For Hamilton, Bottas “does his talking on the track, I have a huge respect for him.” He has signed, like Hamilton, a one-year contract extension until the end of this season.


Ferrari

Charles Leclerc | Monaco
The Monegasque will be anticipating a better season than last, which shouldn't be hard after a misfiring car contributed to the team's worst performance in 40 years. He finished eighth, making the podium only twice, and will be anxious to forge new and altogether more positive memories with an improved car to capitalise on his prodigious talent.

Carlos Sainz | Spain
He replaced two-time world champion Fernando Alonso at McLaren and now four-time champion Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari to form the team’s youngest pairing in the past 50 years. In Sainz Ferrari feel they have found an ideal, pointing to his technical ability, talent and character. Last term Sainz came in sixth, with his new teammate two places behind.


Red Bull

Max Verstappen | Netherlands
Unbridled ability, a razor sharp competitive streak and streetcar racing nous have contributed to his  position as heir apparent to Hamilton’s crown. Verstappen was best of the rest to the Mercedes men last term, with two wins and 11 podiums. An improvement is on the cards, with Honda supplying a new engine in their final season. It would be one almighty leaving gift if the Dutchman was to break Hamilton and his team’s hegemony.

Sergio Perez | Mexico
Things looked bleak for the popular Mexican in terms of remaining on the grid for 2021 in the run up to the penultimate race of last season. He was out of contract with Racing Point and without a win from 189 starts. But he conjured up a stirring maiden victory to earn a call from Red Bull to replace Alexander Albon, who remains as test driver after an inconsistent first season.


Lando Norris | Britain
Ninth with 97 points to Hamilton in his second season in F1 last year, the 21-year-old Englishman is confident of being more than a match for his new teammate Daniel Ricciardo after proving an equal partner to Ferrari's new driver Carlos Sainz. He anticipates making ripples in the F1 pool in 2021. "I am in that earlier phase of my career but I still need to perform very well, and there are no excuses for me anymore."

Daniel Ricciardo | Australia
The man with the golden smile is counting on McLaren’s upturn in fortunes after a barren spell to help reignite his career after a quiet two years with Renault. Beneath the surface of his endearing good nature lurks a fiercely ambitious streak, which at 31 and after nine full seasons, is stronger than ever before. His flashy brilliant best was dimmed by his under-performing French team over the past two years. At McLaren, he will want to become better.

McLaren

Lando Norris | Britain
Ninth with 97 points to Hamilton in his second season in F1 last year, the 21-year-old Englishman is confident of being more than a match for his new teammate Daniel Ricciardo after proving an equal partner to Ferrari's new driver Carlos Sainz. He anticipates making ripples in the F1 pool in 2021. "I am in that earlier phase of my career but I still need to perform very well, and there are no excuses for me anymore."

Daniel Ricciardo | Australia
The man with the golden smile is counting on McLaren’s upturn in fortunes after a barren spell to help reignite his career after a quiet two years with Renault. Beneath the surface of his endearing good nature lurks a fiercely ambitious streak, which at 31 and after nine full seasons, is stronger than ever before. His flashy brilliant best was dimmed by his under-performing French team over the past two years. At McLaren, he will want to become better.

ALPINE

Fernando Alonso | Spain
The 39-year-old 2005 and 2006 world champion with Renault returns to his first love after a two-year flirtation with Le Mans, the Dakar Rally and Indy 500. 

Esteban Ocon | France
Says he is keen to relive “that podium feeling” after experiencing it when second in Bahrain for Renault. Fast, determined, unafraid of tough battles, and at 24 he is impatient for his first win.

Alpha Tauri

Yuki Tsunoda | Japan
If his startling showing in pre-season testing is anything to go by this diminutive newcomer is poised to make a sizeable impact on his first season in the fast lane. The first Japanese driver to compete in F1 since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014. 

Pierre Gasly | France
A year after demotion from Red Bull, the Frenchman conjured up his debut GP success in a chaotic race at Monza for only his team’s second ever win. Aged 25 and with innate speed and craft, he is in for a showing.


Aston Martin

Sebastian Vettel | Germany
The four-time champion with Red Bull endured a miserable last season with Ferrari, coming in a humiliating 13th in the drivers’ championship. But now the German is back talking about a fifth world title.

Lance Stroll | Canada
The 22-year-old son of team owner Lawrence Stroll may have had a cushioned arrival in the sport but his performances with raw speed and competitive zeal have helped silence those who questioned whether he deserved his place on the grid. 

Alfa Romeo

Kimi Raikkonen | Finland
Started a record 323rd race at the Eifel GP at the Nurburgring. Raikkonen arrived a fresh-faced 21-year-old at Sauber in 2001, went on to collect the 2007 world title with Ferrari, and is going strong at 41!

Antonio Giovinazzi | Italy
Matched his more illustrious teammate’s points haul last year after extending his tenure at the team with a flourish to the end of an unimpressive first half of 2019.

Haas

Mick Schumacher | Germany
Nine years after dad Michael’s last race, the Schumacher name is back on the grid with the F1 legend’s son Mick.

Nikita Mazepin | Russia
Haas’ second rookie is 22 and son of billionaire Dmitry Mazepin, a director of Russian company Uralkali, the main title partner of the Haas team.

Williams
George Russell | Britain

For his second season Russell was tipped for stardom by Mercedes chief Toto Wolff after the 23-year-old stepped in for the Covid-19 quarantining Hamilton in Bahrain, upstaging Bottas in practice.

Nicholas Latifi | Canada
Like Stroll, Latifi, 25, is the son of a billionaire. In his second season after graduating as the team’s reserve driver last term and still searching for his first point.
 

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