Exclusive Interview: Mick Schumacher talks F3 success and of F1 future
Successful father and son pairings are not unusual occurrences in life. Often, if your parent’s got it, you’ve got it. Donald and Kiefer Sutherland both carved out successful acting careers, whilst in politics, George Bush, and his son, George W secured the highest job in Washington. And of course, in Formula 1, we’ve seen Graham and Damon Hill both achieve world champion status.
These success stories are not rare, but it’s sometimes forgotten that the pressure placed on the child to live up to the achievements of their parents can be huge. This can be no more true than in the case of 19 year old, Mick Schumacher. If (somehow) you didn’t know, Mick is the son of Formula 1 legend, Michael Schumacher.
Having grown up watching his father romp to seven world championships, and break almost every record along the way, Mick has now followed in the great man’s footsteps, and is racing in European Formula 3. In fact, Schumacher recently beat rival, Dan Ticktum, to the 2018 championship, and has firmly launched his name onto the world stage.
It’s perhaps easy to assume that everything has been laid out on a silver platter for Mick, because his last name is Schumacher. This isn’t true. Mick’s had to work hard and fight his way through the European Karting championships - where, interestingly, he raced under the name ‘Mick Junior’. He spent two hard-fought years in the ADAC Formula 4 championship, and a year in the Italian Formula 4 championship in 2016, eventually finishing runner-up in both.
In 2017, Mick joined the Prema team to compete in the European Formula 3 championship, and ended the year in the 12th place, with just one podium to his name. Whilst it was a tough year for Schumacher, it’s clear when speaking to him that it was an important learning period for the 19 year old;
“I’ve matured as both a person and driver [during my time in European Formula 3]. I’ve learnt how to work with my team of engineers and mechanics, and how to stay focussed and concentrated.” says Schumacher.
With a year’s F3 racing in his pocket, a full title tilt was the aim for Mick in the 2018 season. However, it was another troublesome start to the season for Schumacher, and after 12 rounds, the Prema driver had just 67 points to his name, whereas Ticktum had almost double that.
Speaking to Mick about his difficult start to the season, the classic Schumacher confidence, work ethic, and tenacity - for which his father was renowned - begins to shine through;
“I was always sure that I would be able to fight for the championship. It’s clear that the season did not start or evolve in the way we had hoped, but at the same time the pace was always there,” explains Schumacher.
“We just kept working and believing in us until eventually it payed out. I’m very grateful for the support that everyone around me, and within Prema, has given me.”
Mick’s title fightback began in Belgium in race three at the Spa Francorchamps circuit, where he clinched his first ever Formula 3 win - a poignant moment, which was not lost on the young German;
“Spa was very special obviously. It was my first victory in F3, and it was on a track which seems to be great for the Schumacher family,” Mick says, referring to the success which Michael enjoyed at the Belgian circuit.
After the debut win in Spa, Schumacher took another victory at Silverstone, before dominating the latter part of the season. A victory at the Misano circuit in Italy, was followed by three straight wins at the Nurburgring, and another two victories at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
A second place result at the final event at the Hockenheim circuit was enough for Mick to clinch the 2018 championship.
Schumacher will race for the Prema team again at this year’s Macau Grand Prix, and, whilst his plans for next year have not yet been revealed, when asked whether his successful F3 campaign puts him on the map for a move into F1, Mick's ambitions are clear;
“Formula 1 remains my goal. I’ve achieved the F3 championship, which is something some F1 drivers have not, so it is for sure not bad.”
Mick isn’t fazed by the pressure associated with his family name, and is looking to add to the Schumacher legacy within Formula 1. Speaking to the BBC earlier this year, he credits Michael for being a huge influence in his racing, and admits that he tries to follow what his father has done before.
Mick presenting Ferrari driver, Kimi Raikkonen, with pole position award at the Italian GP this year
And whilst it’s clear that Mick’s success has generated quite a bit of attention, and headline space, the new F3 champion isn’t resting on his laurels. He’s taking nothing for granted when it comes to achieving more success;
“I know I still have a lot to learn, and I am eager to do so,” Mick says, as he looks towards his future in racing.
Mick Schumacher is, indeed, another successful son of a successful father - in this case, the most accomplished driver in F1. However, rather than rely on the obvious interest which surrounds his name, the young German has proved that he is a talented and tenacious racer in his own right, who has the potential to reach the highest echelons of motorsport.
We suspect it won't be long until we see then name 'M.Schumacher' written on the side of a Formula 1 car again.