Mick Schumacher
AP

Mick Schumacher ‘totally confident’ he can handle pressure

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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.”

Todd LeDuc advances two positions in Monster Jam Power Rankings

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Neil Elliott held onto the top spot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings, but he has a new driver sniffing his exhaust as Todd Leduc advanced two positions to second this week.

The Stadium Series Green continues to hold the advantage in the Power Rankings with Elliott topping the chart, Morgan Kane in fourth, and Ryan Anderson eighth, but there is an equitable distribution among the other series throughout the field.

Notably, Leduc and his Monster Energy truck in the Stadium Series Red closed the gap with a 38-point overall victory at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Leduc achieved his win through consistency, pocketing the overall without winning a single individual event. Leduc’s best session was a second-place finish to Mike Vaters II in Overkill Evolution by .001 points.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, Elliott rambled on. Elliott won his sixth skills challenge in seven contests so far. That contributed to his 35 points for the event at PETCO Park in San Diego and allowed him to hold onto the No. 1 slot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings.

Colton Eichelberger also held station. Third last week, he entered the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on a mission in the Triple Threat Series Central. He topped the event points in all four events with timed race wins in each session, ATV race wins in three of the four, three wins in the speedster obstacle course, two freestyle wins and one win in the donut competitions.

MORE: Ryan Anderson and the anatomy of a Monster Jam freestyle run

Morgan Kane and Grave Digger had a rough night. He was ousted from the racing event in Round 2 by Max-D and Elliott. He failed to win either of the other two competitions of the night and ended with 29 points, which was a distant third to Ryan Anderson’s Son-Uva Digger (37) and Max-D (35).

Brandon Vinson moved up to the fifth position with three wins in the Triple Threat Series West. During the weekend he earned seven session wins, including a sweep of the speedster obstacle course and two victories in the two-wheel skills challenge.

Tom Meents debuted on the Monster Jam Power Rankings in 10th by winning the overall in back to back nights of the Stadium Series Yellow. The Saturday show can be seen Feb. 22 at 11:30 p.m. on NBCSN (click here for streaming). The highlight of Meents’ weekend were race wins on Saturday and Sunday, defeating Coty Saucier in a Monster Energy truck on Night 1 and Eric Swanson in Obsessed on Night 2.

Power Rankings

1. Neil Elliott–same
2. Todd LeDuc–up 2
3. Colton Eichelberger-same
4. Morgan Kane–down 2
5. Brandon Vinson–up 1
6. Tyler Menninga–up 1
7. Coty Saucier–down 2
8. Ryan Anderson–same
9. Linsey Read–up 1
10. Tom Meents-new for 2020

Upcoming TV Schedule (All showings on Eastern time on NBCSN)

Oakland: February 22 (Saturday); 11:30 p.m.
Miami: March 1 (Sunday); 12 a.m.
Jacksonville: March 9 (Monday); 6 p.m.
Detroit: March 21 (Saturday); 11 p.m.
Las Vegas: March 28 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Santa Clara: April 11 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Philadelphia: April 17 (Friday); 2:30 p.m.
Denver: April 25 (Saturday); 6:30 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals Racing: May 9 (Saturday); 5 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: May 19 (Tuesday); 4 p.m.
Monster Jam World Freestyle: May 20 (Wednesday); 12 a.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: June 20 (Saturday); 2:30 p.m.