Mick Schumacher clinches F2 title despite tricky race; now heads to F1

Schumacher clinched F2 championship
Joe Portlock/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Mick Schumacher clinched the F2 championship in the final race of the season at Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit and now sets his sight on Formula 1, where he will debut in 2021 for Haas Racing.

It was supposed to be easy as Schumacher entered the race with a sizeable gap over the second-place driver in the points.

But it almost didn’t happen.

Coming off the line in the Sakhir Sprint Race, Schumacher made a bold move to pass Dan Ticktum and Jehan Daruvala in Turn 1. He was denied the position and heading into the second corner disaster nearly struck. Schumacher was forced to lock up his brakes. Under heavy braking, he nearly ran into the back of Ticktum.

Schumacher’s challenger for the championship, Callum Ilott launched off the grid fourth and watched the drama unfold before him.

After an early virtual safety car, Schumacher locked up his tires on another couple of occasions. The rubber could no longer stand up to the strain.

BAHRAIN – DECEMBER 05: Mick Schumacher also locked up his wheels under heavy braking during the Round 12 Sakhir Feature Race of the Formula 2 Championship. (Photo by Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Getty Images)

Schumacher was forced to pit for tires, reentering the race in 20th. Ilott needed a second-place finish and a fastest lap to catch Schumacher in the points.

But Illott’s determination was also too much for his tires and after a spirited battle near the front of the pack he began to fade with 10 laps remaining. Illott landed landed 10th in the final rundown. Schumacher clawed his way back to 18th.

After the race, Schumacher knelt beside his Prema with head in hands.

He survived the early-race drama with a 14-point advantage over Ilott to clinch the 2020 F2 championship 215 to 201. Illott narrowly clung to second in the championship by one point over the feature race winner Yuki Tsunoda.

“I have no words,” he said after the race. “Truly amazing.

“I feel overwhelmed. It’s going to take a few days maybe (to sink in).”

The battle at the front of the field was settled in Daruvala’s favor. He passed Ticktum for the lead and built a 3.5-second gap over Tsunoda, who was able to nip Ticktum by .34 seconds.

Daruvala became the 12th different winner in F2 competition in 2020.

“It feels really good to win the last race of the season and finish on a high,” Daruvala said afterward. “It was a great battle out there with Dan, which got close at times, but we respected each other and raced well. The car was really good and I couldn’t have asked for a better finish.”