SAKHIR, Bahrain — Mick Schumacher is feeling comfortable under the spotlight in the desert heat of Bahrain.
It will be an intense few days for the 20-year-old son of Formula One great Michael Schumacher as he makes his F2 debut for the Prema team on Saturday and then drives in his first Formula One test for Ferrari on Tuesday.
The prospect of seeing a Schumacher driving again in Ferrari’s famed red car has generated excitement and focused attention onto him.
“For sure there are going to be emotions,” he said.
Five of his famed father’s record seven F1 titles were won with Ferrari from 2000-04. His 50-year-old father also holds the record for F1 wins with 91.
The young Schumacher said he is “totally confident” he can handle the pressure and said he feels “really prepared, 100 percent ready.”
One of his father’s trademarks as a driver was an unshakeable inner confidence. The strong-jawed, physical resemblance between them is also apparent.
They were skiing together in December 2013 when his father fell and hit the right side of his head on a rock, splitting open the helmet.
Doctors worked to remove blood clots from his brain, but some were left because they were too deeply embedded. Schumacher’s condition stabilized after he was placed in a drug-induced coma, from which he later emerged. But updates on his health have been scarce since he left the hospital in September 2014 to be cared for privately at his Swiss home by Lake Geneva.
Understandably, talking about his father is a deeply sensitive issue. Although he spoke calmly and in measured tones, the emotion was clear in his voice when addressing how much of an influence his father had on him as a young racer.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am now if it wasn’t for him,” Schumacher said, addressing reporters in the F2 paddock. “It’s a difficult question. Obviously it’s a part of me, I’m his son. He’s my dad and I’m happy. He’s the best ever in F1, (which is) something I look up to. I’m happy to have him as a dad.”
Two years ago, the younger Schumacher drove demonstration laps in an F1 model of the Benetton B194 his father drove to the first of his seven championships in 1994.
Schumacher knew early on he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“Obviously we chatted about quite a few points in karting. It helped me a lot along the way,” Schumacher said. “Driving Go-Karts, I said that’s really what I wanted to do. That’s the thing I want to do professionally, as a career and as a job. So it started pretty soon that we took it quite seriously and worked that out. It went pretty quick to the international step in karting.”
If he does well this season, it is feasible he could be in F1 next year.
Charles Leclerc went straight into F1 after winning the F2 title in 2017 and, after only one season in F1 with Alfa Romeo Sauber, the 21-year-old driver from Monaco got the coveted Ferrari seatthis year.
Father and sons in F1 are not uncommon, but successful ones are rare.
Nico Rosberg’s F1 title with Mercedes in 2016 made him only the second son of an F1 champion to become one himself. He followed in the footsteps of Keke Rosberg, the 1982 F1 champion. The others were Graham Hill (’62 and ’68) and Damon Hill (‘96). The Villeneuves came close to doing it: Gilles finished runner-up in ‘79 and his son Jacques won it in ’97.
When Schumacher won the F3 European Championship title last year, it fast-tracked him into F2 and prompted speculation he could be in F1 by 2020.
But seeing himself as an F1 driver with Ferrari still feels far away.
“We’ll have to wait until it’s time for that,” Schumacher said. “It was obviously very exciting getting the news (about the test). But for now my focus is really on F2.”