Michael Schumacher’s son, Mick Jr., has ‘secret’ F4 test

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The son of seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher appears to be ready to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Schumacher’s son, who calls himself “Mick Jr.,” spent a day of “secret testing” earlier this week in a Formula 4 single-seater car at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain, according to Osterreich, Austria’s national daily newspaper.

The 120,000-seat track, which is a popular test facility for F1 teams, was the younger Schumacher’s playground for a day – and the 15-year-old progeny of one of the greatest F1 drivers in history – apparently didn’t do all that bad.

“Mick is certainly talented,” Mucke Motorsports team owner Peter Mucke told Osterreich (via PaddockTalk.com).

Indeed, the younger Schumacher is. He recently was named the World Karting Vice-Champion (runner-up) to Brit Enaam Ahmed in the FIA KF-Junior category World Championships in Essay, France.

Schumacher raced under the name of Mick Betsch (his mother Corinna’s maiden name) to minimize distractions and keep his father’s recovery from a Dec. 29, 2013 skiing accident private, as the family has requested.

After finishing second to Ahmed, Schumacher said, “Of course I am proud of such an important result. But it is also clear that it is my goal to be world champion. This is only the beginning of my career.”

Mucke cautioned about being overly optimistic so early in the younger Schumacher’s career.

“You cannot say absolutely that a good kart driver will be fast in a Formula One car,” Mucke said. “It is no good only having a great name as a driver, you have to be fast.”

Mucke refused to be any more specific on the younger Schumacher’s abilities or talent: “After a day of testing, no assessment of Mick is possible yet.”

Osterreich implied that this week’s test may actually be a tryout for a potential F4 ride in 2016, after an expected one more season in the karting ranks.

When reached, the elder Schumacher’s manager, Sabine Kehm, refused to comment about Mick Jr.’s racing status.

“I don’t want to say anything,” Kehm said.

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Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.