Tough Act to Follow
There is no brighter, harsher spot-light in all of motorsports than the one that’s on Mick Schumacher this year, as the 22-year-old German makes his Formula One debut 30 years after his seven-time world champion father, Michael, drove the circuit for the first time. The younger Schumacher, however, insists he’s unfazed, and there’s little question he earned his spot in the highest echelon of the sport; he used pseudonyms during his early days in kart competitions to help him develop without distraction, and he has already won both major junior series titles (European Formula 3 and Formula 2). “Obviously we did everything right, because we are in Formula One now, so the pressure doesn’t really bother me,” he says. “Most of the pressure comes from myself. The pressure people might think I feel from the outside is nonexistent.”
Schumacher’s pedigree is indisputable, but he’s still an upstart on the F1 scene, and he’s joining forces with another insurgent hoping to make waves. For his rookie season, he’ll be driving for Haas F1, the American team founded by Ohio-born machine-tool magnate Gene Haas, who NASCAR fans will recognize from Stewart-Haas Racing. While Haas F1 has seen limited success in its five years on the circuit, with a high finish of fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, the no-nonsense team offers a good starting point for the young star. “I feel like I’m in the right team to grow and to develop as a racing driver in Formula One,” Schumacher says. “If you have a team that has trust in you, and you have trust in the team, that’s when the performance really comes to shine.” In the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Schumacher finished 16th. This month, look out for him in the Portuguese Grand Prix on May 2, the Spanish Grand Prix on May 9, and the crown jewel of them all, the Monaco Grand Prix, on May 23.
Ride the Prancing Horse
While Schumacher’s time in F1 has only just begun, a part of him can’t help but look ahead in the hope that he can someday join Ferrari, the team for which his father drove. “My dream was always to race, one day, for Ferrari,” he says. “Let’s see what the future holds. At the moment, I’m just happy to be in the position that I’m in.” Of course, it’s impossible to know if Schumacher will match his father’s achievements, which are already being rewritten by current Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton, who is gunning for an eighth world championship this season. “For a racing driver in general, we have to aim for the best,” Schumacher says. “Everybody in the field of Formula One, and also below, they’re all dreaming of becoming the most successful driver in the world. Some achieve it, and some don’t. I just keep on working on myself, keep on driving, and keep on having fun with what I’m doing.”