He makes his Formula One debut this year at the age of 21 with the American Haas team, but it seems that big things have been expected of him for some time. Not surprising, given his last name.
Schumacher is the son of seven-time world champion Michael, one of the greatest drivers of all time. Before Lewis Hamilton’s performance last year, Michael’s 91 Grand Prix victories were unprecedented.
The burden of being a famous parent has hurt many racing careers. Bruno Senna was never able to live up to Ayrton’s quote: If you think I’m fast, wait till you see my nephew. NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been struggling for years with the burden of carrying his father’s incredible legacy.
Mick Schumacher comes with similar hype and expectations. For one thing, he’s the spitting image of his father, and his voice is remarkably similar – if you close your eyes and listen to the interview, you might think you’re listening to a young Michael.
Mick Schumacher will make his debut in Formula 1 at Haas this season. TF Image/Getty Images
Schumacher is backed by the Ferrari team with which his father won five championships, leading to a contract with Haas, Ferrari’s customer and technical engine partner. He tested for the famous Italian team and competed in the Tuscany Grand Prix last year, the 1000th race of his career. Ferrari, he drove his father’s 2004 title car in a promotional race. It was an incredible moment.
Ahead of his debut at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Schumacher asked about the initials MSC that his father used on Formula One’s official stopwatches.
It’s hard to stop with this heart-pounding plot. But perhaps because he’s always been there, Schumacher doesn’t seem troubled by this situation at all.
When asked if his last name was a burden, he told ESPN: No, definitely not.
I’m really glad I got it. I ride and run because I love the sport and I love what I do. I don’t see it as a burden, no.
It’s obviously no different for me than it always has been, and I’m very comfortable with the position I’m in. I am very proud to have this name back in Formula 1 and to be able to race and feel my achievements.
I keep it and wear it with pride.
Mick Schumacher drove his father’s car in 2004 for the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix, Ferrari’s 1000th Formula One race. Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Of course, there is another layer to this story than the son of a legendary driver making his debut.
Michael Schumacher’s current state of health remains a closely guarded secret. In December 2013, he suffered a serious head injury while skiing with his son. Official news of his condition is scarce.
Unfortunately, unofficial messages – from so-called family friends or people loosely connected to the situation – are not so uncommon. Years of sensational reporting in the tabloid press and in some publications that should know better have only reinforced the Schumacher family’s desire to keep sensitive details out of the public domain.
In this context, the family is naturally reluctant to put Schumacher on the hot seat when it comes to media interviews. This explains why the family’s representative, Sabine Kehm, participated in our Zoom interview, even though picture and sound were cut off.
Kehm was Michael’s public relations manager for most of his career and has not made any statements about his condition since December 2013. As a general rule, any story about Michael’s condition that does not include a quote from Kem can be viewed with some suspicion.
In Formula One, it’s not uncommon to have a PR representative, but this is different. Schumakers is forgiven for wanting to go against the norm.
Kem protects the newcomer and makes sure no questions come near this thread.
After all, Schumacher is just a young man trying to build his own career. From the start, he decided not to get into Formula One because of his father’s fame – he started racing under his mother’s maiden name, Betch, or just as a good story after his father’s accident.
Mick Schumacher won the Formula 2 championship in 2020. Joe Portlock – Formula One with Getty Images
Ferrari helped Schumacher throughout his career, but he supported them with results on the track.
In 2018 he won the Formula 3 championship, and in 2020 the official Formula 1 category in Formula 2. While there are still doubts, pointing for example to a weaker F2 field in 2020, it’s hard to argue with this win on paper. He has done everything that has been asked of him so far.
Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are among the drivers who arrive in F1 with less pedigree than the juniors in terms of championship victories.
It proves to me that I can drive, and that’s a good thing! Schumacher is joking about these two championships.
Even by his own admission, it took a while for Schumacher’s talent to surface. He is grateful for his father’s help, but acknowledges that it took time for everything to fall into place.
There are always tips, tricks and changes in dialogue that he used to try to instill in me, Mick says of his father. I didn’t succeed in karting because it didn’t make sense to me, I tried different things and I probably didn’t have the level but I still achieved what I wanted to achieve in karting.
As soon as I drove a Formula 1 car, everything suddenly became clear. I had the best teacher and I’m glad it’s working now. I’m happy to be here.
These first lessons have clearly had an effect. When Schumacher describes his own profession, it’s easy to see nuances of the qualities that shaped his father.
Even in karting, I was very good at analyzing what was happening around me. So when I saw a void, I didn’t think about it, I just walked past it and saw what was going on.
Usually it was the right decision, so I think that’s one of my strengths, I would have called in that case.
Schumacher quickly lived up to expectations in his first year. Not only does he drive for the Haas team, but he’s also starting his first season with little time on the track.
Because of the Covid 19 pandemic, Formula 1 has reduced pre-season testing from six days in 2020 to just three this year, which Schumacher had to share with new teammate Nikita Mazepin.
I will be ready for tomorrow’s race, Schumacher said before his final test with the car. I have to say I feel even better behind the wheel of this car than I thought I would. You’re driving a car, but… It’s very nice.
It’s not something I tire of easily, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow, and the race can’t come soon enough. So I’m looking forward to the season. I would love to ride every day. I can bet eight more days and go straight to the race weekend.
Since 2014, Formula One drivers have chosen a driver to accompany them throughout their career. Schumacher composed the 47.
Mick Schumacher will drive the number 47 for Haas. Dan Istitenet – Formula One via Getty Images
It’s not an official reason, but he likes the fan theory that it means he’s looking for the seventh title – seven being the number of titles his father had. That’s why he chose the second number, and four is the number he raced with and won in Formula 3.
With places four (Lando Norris) and seven (Kimi Räikkönen), the 47th race was a foregone conclusion. Forty-seven is also the sum of all the birthdays of his immediate family combined.
I took it for granted… There were too many coincidences that might not have been coincidences! I’m glad, and I’m glad he didn’t get caught, I think he’s very good with the car.
Schumacher loves the idea of fate and destiny in his first year. During the interview, he noted that his rookie campaign ended with his 30th win. This coincides with the 50th anniversary of his father’s Grand Prix debut in Belgium in 1991.
It also coincides with the return of his father’s old rival, Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard’s return means that Schumacher, Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton – names that add up to 20 world championships – will be back on the grid for the first time since 2012.
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