Dubai: “I feel right at home”, the man in the red polo tells reporters in a media room.
It’s like stepping back in time to 2004 – watching 20-year-old Ferrari Academy driver Mick Schumacher lowering himself in the Italian Formula One giant’s cockpit, one can only wonder whether they are witnessing greatness taking shape again. Mick is currently paying his dues and honing his skills in motorsport’s junior divisions before he takes his leap to Formula 1 in the near future.
However, Mick is no novice. Racing for Prema Racing in Formula 2, Mick recently won the European Formula 3 Championship and earned his hard-earned promotion to the bigger leagues.
He will put on a drive in Ferrari’s F2004, which his father drove to his seventh World Championship, at Hockenheim on Saturday and Sunday as part of the organisers’ plan to honour the legacy of the seven-time world champion.
This will be an emotional rollercoaster for everybody connected with the sport and if this quick drive serves as any indication, then it will not be long before we see the famous Schumacher name return to the top step of the podium again.
Ferrari decided to let the young man have a drive in their 2019 car (adorned with his favourite number, 29, of course) for the annual Bahrain test. These tests are crucial for teams to continue gathering early-season data regarding the car. Seeing the vehicle for the first time in the winter is great, but once the lights go out in Melbourne, there’s no telling what the true race pace is.
Since the teams have already raced, these tests give them an opportunity to marry race data with new settings, adjustments, and tweaks to the car.
With Mick zooming past, he seems comfortable – and he looks “right at home” too. In fact, one mechanic from Renault even leans over the barrier and snaps a quick picture of the 20-year-old driver as he rounds a corner – Schumacher style.
56lapscompleted by Mick in Bahrain tests
Apart from the trademark Michael Schumacher look, Mick has inherited a lot more from his father - his pace is one such item. Clocking in with 56 laps, Mick displayed veteran speed at the test.
With a lap-time just shy of a minute and thirty seconds, the young German’s time was good enough for second-fastest. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen only nipped Mick by half a second, maintaining the fact that though his lack of time in an F1 car, Mick can do more than enough to handle himself with current drivers.
Mick can overtake as well – earlier this season, he climbed over a dozen places after starting Austria’s sprint race in a dismal P18. Crossing the finish line in P4, Schumacher put his race-craft on display and undoubtedly turned heads at Ferrari as thoughts of bringing him up to the top-flight of racing is now a foreseeable event.
(Ahead of German Grand Prix)
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 223 pts, 2. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) 184, 3. Max Verstappen (NED) 136, 4. Sebastian Vettel (GER) 123, 5. Charles Leclerc (MON) 120, 6. Pierre Gasly (FRA) 55, 7. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) 38, 8. Kimi Rdikkvnen (FIN) 25, 9. Lando Norris (GBR) 22, 10. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 22, 11. Nico H|lkenberg (GER) 17, 12. Kevin Magnussen (DEN) 14, 13. Sergio Pirez (MEX) 13, 14. Daniil Kvyat (RUS) 12, 15. Alexander Albon (THA) 7, 16. Lance Stroll (CAN) 6, 17. Romain Grosjean (FRA) 2, 18. Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA) 1
1. Mercedes 407 pts, 2. Ferrari 243, 3. Red Bull-Honda 191, 4. McLaren-Renault 60, 5. Renault 39, 6. Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari 26, 7. Racing Point-Mercedes 19, 8. Toro Rosso-Honda 19, 9. Haas-Ferrari 16.
- The writer is an intern with Gulf News.