As Mick Schumacher prepares for his Formula 1 debut, Formula Scout runs through his best races to date
The Formula 1 paddock is in Bahrain today to conclude pre-season preparations before racing gets underway on March 28. There will be three rookies on the grid this year, and one of them is reigning Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher.
Aged 21, Schumacher has already left his mark on the steps immediately below F1 with a dominant second half of the season landing him the 2018 FIA European Formula 3 title, and consistency earning him last year’s F2 crown.
The son of seven-time F1 world champion Michael is unsurprisingly excited to now graduate to single-seaters’ pinnacle tier.
“As a child, I’ve been dreaming about this for 15 years – and now it’s actually happened,” said Schumacher.
“It’s emotional and just something very nice. My father actually had his first race in F1 30 years ago this year – that makes it even more emotional and even nicer.
“Coming from F2 we have very little experience on the F1 tyre. But we do have a good amount of experience with Pirelli tyres, so that’s really going to be one of our focus points.
“We need to get even more information on how to prepare a single lap and also how to prepare the tyre for race distances. The races this year are very much longer than the ones we had in F2 and obviously now we only have one race each weekend. We have to be able to extract as much knowledge from the free practice sessions and qualifying to be able then to put everything into the performance for the race.”
From the 196 single-seater races that Schumacher has started on his way up to F1, which performances stand out the most?
ITALIAN F4 Misano 2016 Race 1
Grid: 2nd (+0.464s from pole) Race: 1st (win by 2.307s)
Schumacher’s first season in cars with Van Amersfoort Racing produced solid points-scoring finishes and a race win, but it was his debut with the Prema outfit he would spend five years with that earns the first spot on this list.
An eventful opening lap at Misano included Schumacher being chopped at the start by Marcos Siebert, which dropped him behind Ian Rodriguez. To top that, he had contact with Marino Sato, to which he avoided any substantial damage while Sato broke his front wing. Despite the eventful opening tour, Schumacher was able to keep his head down.
He pressured Rodriguez into a mistake and started to edge into the gap that Siebert held. A spectacular move around the outside for the lead set the tone for what turned out to be a highly successful season in Formula 4 across Germany and Italy and was the first real indication that Schumacher had substantial potential in his possession.
FIA EUROPEAN F3 Spa-Francorchamps 2018 Race 1
Grid: 16th (+1.220s) Race: 4th (+16.506s)
The Schumacher name is totally synonymous with Spa-Francorchamps – beginning with his father Michael’s legendary F1 debut with Jordan 30 years ago. In 2018, Schumacher was almost a year-and-a-half into his European Formula 3 stint and rarely looked like he could challenge for wins. While he would win at Spa, it is his first race that weekend, a superb climb through the field, that gets the nod here.
While Jehan Daruvala won an exciting race in itself out front, Schumacher made up a staggering 12 places from an inadequate qualifying position to kickstart what turned out to be an exceptional run of race results. Spa allows for slipstreaming, and Schumacher utilised this to good effect. A stellar start allowed him to avoid the standard La Source carnage and, by the time the safety car was called, he was up into 11th.
From there, Schumacher simply picked off place after place, battling with future F2 rivals Juri Vips, Robert Swartzman and Dan Ticktum in the process, and crossed the line in fifth. A subsequent penalty for Ticktum elevated him into a fine fourth.
FIA EUROPEAN F3 Red Bull Ring 2018 Race 1
Grid: 1st (-0.247s) Race: 1st (-0.903s)
Schumacher’s run of consecutive wins in the latter part of the final European F3 seasons remains debated and questioned to this day, due to ambiguity over the engines both he and Shwartzman used. Regardless, the duel the pair had in the first race at the Red Bull Ring in the rain was a fine example of the talent both drivers can display – something both have continued to do while climbing up the single-seater ladder. It was only right for one of these wins to feature because the level of driving from Schumacher had noticeably improved.
The opening stages of the race featured a fascinating scrap between the pair – with the German coming out on top. After that, he was able to open up a small gap, but Shwartzman was able to reel him back in. Despite the late pressure, Schumacher was able to hold on to take his fourth successive victory. More importantly, it also gave him the championship lead over Ticktum – whose form started to crumble. The second half of the season was about the sudden rise of Schumacher and Shwartzman, and this is the standout memory of that part of the season.
FORMULA 2 Red Bull Ring 2019 Sprint
Grid: 18th Race: 4th (+5.781s)
Schumacher’s maiden Formula 2 season featured few highlights – it was a difficult campaign as the Prema outfit tumbled down the order. Schumacher often was luckless or made highly unnecessary mistakes while in strong positions. While he did win a sprint race in fine style at the Hungaroring, it was another sprint that stands out from his first season at that level.
He stalled on the grid in the Red Bull Ring feature race and finished a lap down – while also having an effect on Nyck de Vries’s race – and started on the penultimate row on the grid for the sprint. His pace, however, was stunning.
He started well once again, and he started to methodically pick off each of his rivals. Admittedly, a safety car for a crash involving Louis Deletraz did benefit him as it closed the pack up, but he was still able to utilise his superior race pace to exceptionally good effect. He also had worked his way up into a strong position before the pause in proceedings. He managed to get as far as to the gearbox of de Vries by the finish and narrowly missed out on what would have been a very well-earned podium. Afterwards, he boldly claimed he had more confidence than his opposition.
FORMULA 2 Monza 2020 Feature
Grid: 7th (+0.348s) Race: 1st (-3.185s)
There were a select few candidates for the final spot coming from Schumacher’s successful title-winning F2 campaign, but the magnitude of the win at Monza – a venue that holds such importance to Prema, Ferrari and to the Schumacher family – was the ideal candidate to put into this list.
His weekend started pretty dismally with a qualifying crash leaving him seventh on the grid. At this point, Schumacher wasn’t considered a major title contender, as fellow Ferrari juniors Shwartzman and Callum Ilott were way ahead in the points.
Schumacher’s launch at the start was simply exquisite – gaining a whopping five spots on the run down to the first corner.
The first part of the race was about Schumacher and Ilott trading laptimes, with the Briton having the upper hand coming into the pitstop sequence. The lead went to Schumacher after Ilott stalled – prompting one of the finest recovery drives from the latter. While it appeared Schumacher’s job was done there, he had to keep an eye on Luca Ghiotto and Christian Lundgaard in the closing stages.
Schumacher’s lack of feature race wins came under scrutiny, and he was asked regularly – including by Formula Scout – when such wins would come. This was the result that quietened those critics, firmly thrust him into title contention and was part of a very solid run of form that formed the basis of his successful title campaign.