Is the Mick Schumacher hype justified?

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Mercedes are dominating, but rivals are falling short

As of next year, the Schumacher name will be back in Formula One. Mick Schumacher, the son of seven-time world champion Michael, will race for Haas alongside Nikita Mazepin in an all-new line-up replacing Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.

Schumacher’s arrival in F1 has been anticipated for several years as he’s moved through the ranks in junior categories and picked up race victories.

The German’s surname means he has always been the centre of attention whenever he has been near the cockpit of a racing car. So much so, in fact, that when he started karting he raced as ‘Mick Betsch’, opting to use the maiden name of his mother rather than the Schumacher name synonymous with his father Michael’s seven world championships.

Mick was just 14 when his father suffered a serious head injury while they were skiing together in December 2013. Although Michael’s health remains a closely-guarded secret — several have made evasive attempts to break the Schumacher family’s privacy — it is believed he still requires care and he has not been seen in public since.

It was against that tragic backdrop that Mick’s journey into racing properly began, with a series of tests in a Formula 4 car in 2014 followed by a step up to the ADAC Formula 4 category the following year. By this time, he was racing under the Schumacher name, having used Mick Junior in his last year of karting.

In 2016 he won five races in the ADAC and Italian F4 championships, which led to a step up to the prestigious European Formula 3 series. After a quiet first season, Schumacher won eight races in 2018, beating then-Red Bull junior Dan Ticktum to the championship with the Prema team he currently races with in Formula 2.

A dramatic turnaround in form midway through the 2018 F3 season saw Schumacher win multiple races, raising eyebrows and leading Ticktum to accuse Prema of cheating, arguing Schumacher had an unfair advantage because of his name. Ultimately, the accusations damaged Ticktum’s career more than Schumacher’s and the 19-year-old Mick now had a prestigious title against his famous name.

His rise was closely monitored by Mercedes, who backed both Michael and Mick’s junior careers, as well as Ferrari. The younger Schumacher, who turned 21 in March and bears a striking resemblance to Michael, was signed to the latter’s driver academy at the start of 2019. For a generation of F1 fans who grew up watching the sport in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Schumacher was Ferrari, and vice versa, making it seem like a natural fit.

With his new backing, Schumacher embarked on his first season in Formula 2 — the feeder series that shadows F1 around a number of circuits on the calendar. He failed to make an immediate impression against a field of more experienced drivers, but secured his first win in the sprint race at the Hungaroring — a track his father won four Hungarian Grands Prix at. Schumacher went on to finish the 2019 F2 season 12th in the standings, but his presence alone was enough to make headlines.

Those headlines were no bigger than in April, 2019 when he made his F1 test debut with — you guessed it — Ferrari. The test took place in Bahrain in early April and, unusually for a the desert circuit, was partly rained off. Nevertheless, Schumacher completed 56 laps with a best time of 1:29.976, which was second fastest behind Max Verstappen. It was an emotional day, with Schumacher’s mother watching on from the pit wall and several Ferrari mechanics who worked on his father’s car still in the garage working on Mick’s.

Just as he did in Formula 3, Schumacher came alive in the second half of his second season in Formula 2 this year. A combination of consistency and fast starts from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards saw him recover a lot of the points lost to bad luck in the first half of the season and take the lead of the championship from fellow Ferrari Driver Academy member Callum Ilott by the time the series left Mugello.

The last two races of the season will take place on Bahrain’s outer layout this weekend and he heads into the final rounds with a 14-point advantage in the championship and 48 points left to play for. He could still lose the title to Ilott, but Wednesday’s announcement means it will have little bearing on his future.

The Schumacher name is back in F1, and on the basis of his performances so far in his career, it’s here to stay.

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