The facial likeness is more oblique than uncanny, suggestive rather than defined. In his manner and approach, however, Mick Schumacher is every inch his father’s son.
His handling of his first Formula One test for Ferrari was quintessential Schumi, measured, matter of fact, earnest. That is not to say he was not switched on by the experience, buzzing at the performance peak, thrilled at the insane speed, only that it was for others to get carried away with the significance of it all.
On a rain-affected first day in Bahrain, Mick recorded the second quickest time, albeit on the quicker soft tyre. On the following day after 60 laps in the Alfa Romeo he was sixth. “The emotions I can tell you were really nice,” he said. “It was feeling like home already, it was beautiful to make those first laps and to see all those guys working on the car and working with me.
“It was astonishing the feeling I had going out and the first time on the throttle was… this thing has so much power. There is so much potential in the car with the speed through the corners and in traction it is hard to describe. I am sure there is a lot more to come. You can brake later and later and later and the car would still stop. It was crazy really.”
You can say that again. Planet motor sport is mad for the idea of the son of Schumi storming the gates of F1, reprising with Ferrari the heady domination enjoyed by his old man.
For him it is more about incremental steps. After taking the European F3 crown last season he made his F2 debut last weekend, finishing in the points. His F1 immersion in Bahrain will be repeated at a further F1 test in Azerbaijan but it is F2 and his Prema team that is uppermost in his thinking. The idea he might step up without negotiating F2’s learning curve is anathema to the Schumucher world view.
“I want to arrive into F1 being a complete racing driver, being as prepared as possible. I think time will tell if that’s next year, if that’s the years to follow, really. So, I’m taking it one step at a time.
“F1 is so complex, there’s so many ways to see and learn about the car. To speak with [the team] and try to take the information for myself really did help. I learned so much that I can use in F2 as well. I’ll use every single bit of it.”
This wisdom was delivered from the stage at a conference specially arranged to meet the media demand. It is seven years since his father drove his last grand prix, five since the tragic skiing accident that took Michael from public view. Twin elements that at this stage of Mick’s development inevitably colour the commentary around him. Mick is slowly becoming his own man. We must, as his assured deportment informs us, wait to see if that will be good enough.
Elsewhere, freed from the constraints of the ailing Williams, George Russell topped the time sheets for Mercedes on the second day, reinforcing the impression that last year’s F2 champion, pictured, is the goods and that Mercedes are on top of the problems they had in Bahrain. Although they posted a second one-two, Mercedes spent the best part of the weekend in Ferrari’s shadow.
“It was a huge result and a great relief,” said Mercedes technical director James Allison, “to come back with those points and also clear indications of what we need to do to develop our car so we will not suffer the same sort of problems we had in Bahrain.”