Mick Schumacher, the son of the seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher, has taken a race seat for the 2021 season. Schumacher will drive for Haas next year, the completion of a remarkable journey 30 years after his father made his debut.
The 21-year-old racing driver has reached the front ranks of motor racing despite his father sustaining a brain injury in a skiing accident in 2013.
Schumacher’s progress has been carefully nurtured by Ferrari, for whom his father raced for Ferrari between 1996 and 2006, winning five of his seven world championships between 2000 and 2004.
With Haas enjoying a close relationship with the Scuderia, placing him with the team was seen as a natural move to his further his career. The prospect of him going on to match his father by joining Ferrari is very much on the cards.
“The prospect of being on the Formula One grid next year makes me incredibly happy and I’m simply speechless,” he said. “I also want to acknowledge and extend my love to my parents – I know that I owe them everything. I have always believed that I would realise my dream of Formula One.
“A huge thank you must also go to all the great motorsport fans out there who have supported me throughout my career. I will give it my all, as I always do, and I look forward to going on this journey together with Haas F1 and them.”
Schumacher was just 14 when his father suffered the skiing accident from which he remains in recovery. He began racing in karts when he was nine and made his single-seater debut in 2015. He had deliberately made a low-key opening to his career, competing under his mother’s maiden name as Mick Betsch and later Mick Junior. But for his first single-seater outing in a German F4 meeting at Oschersleben he competed as Schumacher for the first time.
He raced in the German F4 series for two years before moving to F3 in 2017, after a season getting to grips with the machinery he won eight of the final 15 races to take the title in 2018. It was a pattern that would become familiar. He moved to F2 in 2019, finishing 12th but this season leads the championship and is on course to take the title with two races remaining this weekend.
Ever since that race in Oschersleben Schumacher has been under the spotlight and the scrutiny will now only become more intense. In December 2014 he had an incident “in testing at the Lausitzring speedway that was reported as a “terrifying crash”. He was the star of the show in Germany in 2019 when he took to the track in his father’s Ferrari F2004, delighting fans at the Hockenheimring with just a demonstration lap.
He has coped with it well and there is every indication he will continue to do so. Certainly World champion Lewis Hamilton believes he will be able to deal with the step up. “He has got great talent like his dad,” Hamilton said. “So I don’t think it will be a burden.”
Those closest to Schumacher are also confident he has the skill set to be successful at the top level. Schumacher competed for Prema Racing in F3 and F2 run by team principal Rene Rosin, who believes the young man is dealing with his career and life with great skill.
“He is quite relaxed,” said Rosin. “He is mature for his age but he is bringing this weight and dealing with that without any issues. Dedication is one of his greatest strengths. He wants to understand the technical details to perform well. His racecraft is also really good, he almost always makes the right decision. He has a good knowledge of how every change in the car affects his driving style. That’s a good driver characteristic.”
Meanwhile, Britain’s George Russell will replace Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes at the Sakhir Grand Prix this weekend. Hamilton was diagnosed with Covid-19 on Monday and will miss the race. Russell is currently in his second season driving for Williams but is a Mercedes junior driver and has been highly tipped to join the team in future. Williams have released him to take a huge opportunity in driving the quickest car on the grid alongside Valtteri Bottas. Williams will use their reserve driver, the British-Korean Jack Aitken, at the Sakhir GP.
“I see this as a great chance to learn from the best outfit on the grid right now and to come back as an improved driver, with even more energy and experience to help push Williams further up the grid,” Russell said. “A big thank you also to Mercedes for putting their faith in me. Obviously, nobody can replace Lewis, but I’ll give my all for the team in his absence from the moment I step in the car. Most importantly, I wish him a speedy recovery. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and can’t wait to get out on track this week.”
The French driver Romain Grosjean has been discharged from hospital only days after his remarkable escape from a violent crash at the Bahrain GP. The Frenchman’s car hit the barriers at 137mph, split in two and was engulfed in flames before Grosjean was able to climb from the wreckage. Remarkably, he suffered only burns to his hands. He will leave hospital on Wednesday morning and although he will not take part in the Sakhir GP is optimistic of returning for the season finale at Abu Dhabi.