Mick Schumacher describes the Red Bull Ring circuit as a ‘very special track’ ahead of the double-header there, which starts with the Styrian Grand Prix this weekend.
The 2019 FIA Formula 2 champion has driven around the circuit before in his junior career, winning multiple times in Formula 3, but wasn’t the greatest in terms of results from his time in Formula 2 – with a pair of fourth-place finishes in six race starts.
However, Schumacher believes the Red Bull Ring has been a great track for himself and says he enjoys driving around the track.
“I’ve always been very happy around the Red Bull Ring; it’s been a great track for me and I’ve been fast. In terms of luck, maybe it wasn’t always my race, but I think in general we’ve had the pace.
“In 2019, it was the first race where I had the pace to stay with the top runners, even though it was a lap down, and I was just as close as what Nyck de Vries was doing at the time, and he won the championship that year.
“Looking at Formula 3, my speed was good and I’ve had multiple wins there. In general, the Red Bull Ring is a very special track – it has a lot of altitude changes in it and quite frankly it’s a track that is fun to drive.”
Formula 1 teams will spend the next two Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring circuit as part of the double-header – Styrian Grand Prix and Austrian Grand Prix – and Schumacher says they can use information from this weekend’s race to help fulfil the potential of the car next week.
“It gives me the opportunity to try something in the second weekend during FP1 and FP2 because normally we have to run some different programs and try some things, which we’ll do in the first weekend but then on the second weekend we’re able to try some other things.
“We’ll get a lot of information through that and hopefully set-up the car to the maximum of its potential.”
Nikita Mazepin – “I think it’s a circuit I can be good”
His team-mate Nikita Mazepin has also experienced difficult results at the Red Bull Ring circuit in his junior career, with a pair of top 10 finishes being his result in six race starts.
But, similar to Schumacher, the rookie driver believes it’s a circuit he can achieve a good result if he feels comfortable in the car, something that Mazepin has slowly started to achieve in the VF-21.
“The Red Bull Ring hasn’t been so bad. I think it’s a circuit I can be good at presuming I feel comfortable in the car. In 2019, I didn’t get myself around to the car balance and I wasn’t very happy with the way the car was.
“In 2020, it was the first round of the championship and unfortunately my car broke down in the first free practice therefore I went out in qualifying and just missed out on a top-10 finish, which I believe was a very good result after not driving for six months.
“Then, we had a 25-second pitstop in the second race which also put us down in the time sheets but in terms of the times, we were there, and I’m hoping that this gradual improvement with luck and performance will continue from there onwards.”
Mazepin feels having back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring circuit will put everyone closer together and highlights how the lack of practice time in Formula 2 helps rookie drivers appreciate it in Formula 1.
”I genuinely do think it will be interesting to race back-to-back at the circuit.
“As a rookie in Formula 1, you often feel you’re not getting enough time behind the wheel, especially with free practices being shortened, so I think it will definitely put everybody much closer together with two weeks of racing on the same circuit and hopefully FP1, 2 and 3 will be a bit more straightforward.
“I’ve never done 90-minute FP1’s like other drivers have, however it doesn’t feel short to me having three free practices available when I’m used to one 45-minute free practice before qualifying. I think Formula 2 brings you up in a very strict manner so that you appreciate it in Formula 1.”