With perhaps the most recognisable surname in the motorsport world, Mick Schumacher is one of the 22-strong grid of hungry youngsters in FIA Formula 2 with their sights set firmly on the glitz, glamour and glory ripe for the taking in Formula 1. But is he actually good enough to be the fabled successor to his father Michael’s throne?
With two years of experience competing for Ferrari-Backed Prema Racing in Formula 2 and a previous FIA European Formula 3 Championship title under his belt, Schumacher seems to be one of the prancing horse’s most notable and apparent long term options to drive for them at the pinnacle of motorsport; But with other established youngsters such as Callum Ilott and Robert Shwartzman in possible competition for seats on the 2021 grid, does Schumacher stand a chance – or even deserve it?
Before racing in junior formulae in 2014, Schumacher competed in various kart series, such as the German Junior Kart Championship, showcasing incredible talent and potential. To avoid the inevitable scrutiny of his father’s heftily weighted name, the teenager opted to race under the pseudonym ‘Mick Betsch’ – his mother’s maiden name.
Having eventually employed the notorious Schumacher name in 2014, the youngster garnered worldwide attention and was ultimately destined from then on to continue his bloodline’s distinguished success in motorsport. Constantly being compared and contrasted with his father’s impressive record however, many predicted that the piling pressure would break the teenager and possibly cause his evident talents to falter; And to a certain extent, it did.
Although Schumacher experienced international success after winning the 2018 European Formula 3 title, his achievements were since downplayed by a flurry of rather inconsistent and lacklustre performances in the 2019 Formula 2 Championship – with the 21 year-old winning just one of the twenty-two races held.
Admittedly, the youngster was in his debut F2 season, so a championship win was certainly neither forecasted nor anticipated. However, throughout the year the German made many rookie errors that were vastly unexpected – especially in such a high calibre of motorsport. Perhaps most notably his disastrous ad lib car park creation in the narrow streets of Monaco, which prompted swift criticism into the youngster’s driving style.
Since then, though, Schumacher has no doubt matured – both on track and off it. He currently leads the 2020 Formula 2 Championship, which is no mean feat considering the immeasurable talent on the aforementioned grid. The German is most likely competing against Ilott and Shwartzman for the series crown, and it just so happens that these two drivers are favourites for seats in F1 next year – most likely with Ferrari-powered teams such as Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and Haas F1 Team. Very recently, Ilott announced he would ‘most definitely not be racing another year in F2‘, solidifying the belief of many that he will race in Formula 1 next year.
So far paddock rumours suggest free agent Sergio Pérez is another established driver looking to nab a seat while he can, and ironically Nico Hülkenberg – who replaced Pérez at the two Silverstone rounds – also has his eyes on the very same seats. The pair’s only possible options seem to rest with the teams such as Alfa Romeo or Haas at the minute, meaning Schumacher has yet more competition for his dream F1 seat.
Be that as it may, Schumacher has assuredly maintained a strong and prosperous relationship with Ferrari for the duration of his time in lower formulae. Just last year, the home-grown racer emotionally drove his father’s championship-winning F2004 around the famed Hockenheimring circuit during final practice for the German Grand Prix, mentioning that his dad’s seat “fit perfectly”, undoubtedly foreshadowing the legacy he hopes to follow suit of with the legendary Maranello outfit.
He followed suit of this wholesome occasion just last week, driving the very same car around the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello with equal passion and pride and consequently prompting further talks into his future as Ferrari celebrated one-thousand races in Formula 1.
Haas and Alfa Romeo are yet to formally announce their 2021 driver lineups, but motorsport giant Ferrari will no doubt be having a say in the final decision. It is thought that the announcements could be made any time now, and the fate of Mick is firmly in the hands of such teams.
Personally, I do believe the young German deserves a spot on next years grid. If you had asked me the same question prior to the start of 2020 – my opinion would certainly have been different, however I think Mick has really taken off in the past few months. His driving style is more consistent and it’s so perceivable just how much he has improved and excelled over the course of a single year. I wonder if he’ll live up to the hype that comes with his father’s name or fall victim to the ruthless eyes of the fans and the media; the same vicious scrutiny fell upon Bruno Senna, and I only hope Mick’s tale has a different, more pleasant end.
Seeing as American outfit Haas are on the lookout for drivers, I think Pérez will be their preferred choice. The Mexican would definitely be a great fit for the team and a fresh face to entice fans across the pond. The other seat (if it’s even available and not taken by Romain Grosjean or Kevin Magnussen) could be a possibility for Mick, although I see his debut being with Alfa instead as he has much stronger links and ties with them – having tested with the team previously. There, it’s likely he’d partner Ilott or Shwartzman. Three Ferrari Driver Academy juniors making the move to F1 in one year would certainly be good marketing for the programme.
For now, though, only time will tell whether or not the F2 junior will make it to the top level of motorsport, but opinions remain split as to how ready Mick Schumacher really is for one of the 20 most coveted seats on the planet. Who knows, maybe he’ll one day emulate his father and win the World Championship with Ferrari…