Binotto: Schumacher a ‘good candidate’ for future F1 seat

Mattia Binotto believes that Mick Schumacher is a “good candidate” to take a seat on the Formula 1 grid in the future.

The 20-year-old son of seven-time World Champion Michael completed his first F2 season and his first test days in F1 in 2019, and bigger things are expected of him by many going forward.

While many were disappointed that he only managed P12 in his F2 debut year, Binotto sees it as a successful maiden season.

“We are very proud having made him part of the FDA,” the Ferrari team principal told Autosport.com.

“Not only because he is Michael Schumacher’s son, but because I think he’s a good driver, he actually performed well even in this season.

“If you look at the standings you can see some experienced drivers on top, but he had one good season to gain experience. And if you look in term of rookies, too, he was doing well. He was a rookie.

“So, I think that next season will be key for him to understand how much he’s progressing. We are expecting much from the next year because he will have one season of experience and we are pretty sure he’s a good candidate for F1 in the future.”

Binotto did not, however, go so far to say that the German may well be in a Ferrari seat soon, saying that it’s too early to tell and that the team will want more experienced drivers until after 2021.

“Will he be a candidate for Ferrari either in the future? It’s really too early on,” he added.

“But again, the aim of the FDA is to find the next talent for Ferrari and he is part of the FDA because we believe he’s got the talent to stay in this group.

“2021 will be too early for one of our young talents, too. In 2021 some experience from drivers will be important because it’s a completely new type of car.”

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No Alfa mileage for Schumacher in 2020 – Vasseur

Alfa Romeo team boss Frédéric Vasseur has dismissed awarding any testing mileage to Mick Schumacher in 2020.

As a member of Ferrari’s Driver Academy, Schumacher was given F1 seat time earlier this year in Bahrain, both with the Scuderia and with Alfa Romeo.

While the Hinwil-based squad remains affiliated with the House of Maranello and the most probable entry point for Schumacher in F1 after his second campaign in Formula 2 in 2020, Vasseur insists there will be no track time allocated to the young German next season.

“There will be no additional tests next year,” Vasseur told Blick’s Roger Benoit.

“First of all, Mick has to win Formula 2 or perform well but that is incredibly difficult given the conditions and the pressure.

“We are following his path and progress,” along with Ferrari.

Alfa has retained both Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi for 2020. But there were initially doubts about the latter’s fate because of his late confirmation, a delay which kept Giovinazzi on his toes.

“Ten years ago, the teams wanted to announce their drivers in February,” said Vasseur.

“We were never in a hurry, so we were able to keep up the pressure on the team and on Antonio.”

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Concerns for Schumi Jr as the numbers don’t lie

Take a look at the junior achievements of George Russell and Charles Leclerc, and it shows that the stats from Mick Schumacher’s first season in F2 was worrying.

A member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, Mick Schumcher, son of seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher, seems destined to make it to F1 – if not by talent then by the name.

Be that as it may, Schumacher still needs to prove that he can hold his own in the world of F1 in the near future, however, his first season at F2 level was underwhelming when compared to those who came before.

It was actually George Russell who raised the point recently that he and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had the same junior success prior to F1, and that he sees their careers as still being on the “exact same path”.

Leclerc entered the GP3 series in 2016 and won the title at his first attempt, before graduating to F2 the following season and crowning himself champion again with his first shot.

Russell also has this achievement to his name, completing it a year after Leclerc – and as we now know Leclerc is being branded as a future World Champion at Ferrari, while Russell, part of the Mercedes programme, has just demolished Robert Kubica at Williams.

So this is clearly the route that Schumacher wants to follow, after all he’s walking in Leclerc’s footsteps right now, but his first F2 campaign left a lot to be desired.

The German graduated to F2 after becoming the final F3 European champion with Prema, the team that took Leclerc to his F2 title, and Schumacher continued his association with the Italian team in 2019.

But that rookie campaign would see Schumacher finish a lowly P12. He did win the sprint race in Hungary, though that was his only podium of 2019.

Sure he did show some flashes of real ability, especially in wheel-to-wheel combat, but in their title-winning years both Russell and Leclerc were the clear standouts in their field, while Schumacher wasn’t in that conversation.

Only two drivers so far have won the GP2/F2 Championship before going on to become World Champion in F1, that being Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Both of whom won the title in their rookie GP2 seasons.

But winning the F2 crown is merely the step up to much tougher waters in F1 – just ask Stoffel Vandoorne who won the 2015 GP2 title by a record 160-point margin, yet after just two full seasons with McLaren he was gone.

It took Vandoorne two attempts to win the GP2 crown, but even in his first he ended the season P2, not P12.

This isn’t an attempt to bury Schumacher with stats, but it’s just a case of pointing out that if he does turn things around and goes on to be one hell of a driver, then he will very much be an exception to the trend.

The weight of having the surname Schumacher is crushing – Michael’s son in F1 makes ratings, the media want it for the headlines, Ferrari crave it for the history, but he now has to deliver.

If F1 is a cutthroat series then junior racing is savage. It’s so important to win a series like F2 straight away because a second shot isn’t always guaranteed, and the next flavour of the month is already on its way, so if Schumacher doesn’t at least mount a challenge in 2020, then his future could become very bleak.

He will at least have the stability of remaining with Prema for 2020.

Jamie Woodhouse

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Schumacher not in Ferrari’s 2021 thoughts

Mick Schumacher will be ready for Formula 1 day, but a Ferrari seat isn’t coming his way in 2021 says principal Mattia Binotto.

The son of seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher, Mick made his F2 debut in 2019 and finished his rookie season P12 in the standings, though he did claim his first win in the series during the Hungary sprint race.

The German youngster will stay with the Prema team for 2020 as he continues his seemingly inevitable progression to F1.

And a Ferrari seat may well be going spare come 2021, but Binotto believes it wouldn’t be the right time for Schumacher or the team for such a promotion.

“Will he be a good candidate for Ferrari? It’s really too early to say that,” Binotto is quoted by GP Fans.

“For 2021 it will be important to have drivers with experience, because the cars will be completely new.

“But I am pretty sure that he is a good candidate for Formula 1.

“We expect a lot from him next year.”

Schumacher is also optimistic for next season, believing the stability of remaining at Prema will work in his favour.

“I’m glad that I can continue in the same team,” he said. “Of course, the step into Formula 1 would have been nice.

“But I see it as an advantage to gain another year of experience, especially as we will already use the low-profile tyres in 2020, a year before Formula 1.

“My goal is to keep up with the best. I think it will be easier for me next year, because I know the car, the tracks and what happens on a race weekend.”

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Mick Schumacher ‘needs to improve a lot’ before F1

Ex-Formula 1 driver, JJ Lehto, thinks Mick Schumacher needs to “improve a lot” before he climbs up to Formula 1 level.

Mick Schumacher will complete his first season in Formula 2 at the upcoming Abu Grand Prix weekend in a campaign which saw him clinch his first victory in Hungary and also join the Ferrari Driver Academy.

But, while Mick tries to follow in his father’s very large footsteps, Lehto thinks that improvement in Formula 2 is needed next year if Formula 1 teams are to take a big interest in him once again.

“There have been a lot of ups and down this season and it’s for this reason speculation about Mick moving to F1 has stopped,” JJ Lehto told Italy’s Motorionline.

“Mick needs a very good season in F2 to rekindle the enthusiasm from other teams.

“The kid has talent but he needs to improve a lot before moving to F1. Obviously the name helps but you need to win titles if you want to go and compete in the Formula 1.”

Schumacher currently occupies P12 in the Formula 2 World Championship standings with 51 points to his name.

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Racing Point tracking Schumacher, Latifi progress

Racing Point CEO Otmar Szafnauer admits they are one of the teams tracking the progress of Mick Schumacher, while Nicholas Latifi is also on their radar.

Sergio Perez signed a new three-year deal earlier in the year to remain with the team, while Lance Stroll, son of owner Lawrence Stroll continues in the second seat from 2020 and beyond.

But Racing Point continue to scout the market for possible future stars – Schumacher, a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, is someone they continue to monitor, while Latifi who currently serves as Williams’ reserve driver, is also on their mind after serving as Force India’s test driver in 2018.

“We have quite a few drivers in mind,” Szafnauer told Speedweek.com.

“We look at how they beat each other in the junior series. We even wrote an analysis program in which we record all the results. Well, that does not allow a perfect judgment, but it’s a guide.

“Everyone in the Formula 1 is watching attentively what Mick Schumacher is doing.

“There are some pretty good guys. We also had Nicholas Latifi in our car.”

Stroll is still only 21 years of age, and Szafnauer is happy with his development, but admits that tyre management is an area for improvement.

“Lance Stroll is a smart guy, still very young. His starts really are a show,” he explained.

“But he is still learning, especially in tyre management. He had bad luck a few times. He usually starts well, as I said, but then two opponents get in front of him and he runs out of pace.”

Racing Point caused a stir back at the Japanese Grand Prix when their appeal against Renault’s automatically adjusting brake bias system got the French manufacturer disqualified from the results in Suzuka.

But, Szafnauer is still adamant that his team were right to flag it up, saying Renault were “tricking” F1 and that’s not “alright”.

“No, I have a good conscience,” he said when asked if he felt like the bad guy in the situation.

“Renault tricked everyone with this unauthorised driving aid, that just was not alright.”

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Schumacher: 'What my dad was to Vettel, Seb is to me'

Ferrari Driver Academy member Mick Schumacher has drawn a comparison between his relationship with Sebastian Vettel and the link between the latter and the young hopeful’s legendary father.

Schumacher is on the verge of completing his first campaign in Formula 2, but a major highlight of the 20-year-old’s 2019 season will remain his F1 debut with Ferrari in Bahrain last spring.

As a member of the House of Maranello’s driver academy, Schumacher was awarded test days with the Scuderia and Alfa Romeo, but the young German admits the lure of the former has unsurprisingly always been irresistible.

“I feel drawn to Ferrari,” Schuamcher said in an exclusive interview with Motorsport-Magazin’s Christian Menath.

“I grew up with them and have always driven for Italian teams with the exception of one season.

“Even early on, when I was in karting, I drove for Tony Kart in a completely Italian team. The only year I haven’t worked with Italians was in 2015 when I competed in Formula 4 with Van Amersfoort.

“I’m back now with Italians once again at Prema. The passion they have for motorsport is just terrific.

“You appreciate that all the more at Ferrari. Walking around Maranello or Fiorano feels really special. It’s just one big happy family. You feel good when you’re there, part of the Ferrari family.”

As Schumacher follows in the footsteps of his famous father, there is no lack of support for the young charger’s ambitions.

And Vettel is one man who has given him loads of encouragement, just like the four-time world champion was himself spurred on during his formative years in the sport by Michael Schumacher.

“I’ve got a great deal of respect for him,” Mick admitted. “We talk a lot about motorsport.

“I try to get tips from him and put them into practice. He’s been in the sport quite a few more years than me, so every conversation we have helps.

“I think what my dad was to Sebastian, he is for me, someone that I’m close to, with whom I can talk about motorsport.”

Schumacher’s maiden season in F2 hasn’t been an easy task, but he also feels that the difficult times he endured this season have strengthened him for the future, and for F1.

“The hard times make us stronger,” he said. “If we can manage to turn things around so that it works out positive for us in the end, then we’ve learned more than if everything had gone well right from the start.

“If at some point, you join Formula 1 and then suddenly find that nothing’s going right, then the pressure is enormous.

“These are situations that can completely break a driver. However, the person who has been through it all before and has overcome hard times is inured to it and can handle the situation better, in my opinion.”

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Midweek Wrap: Lewis is OK, Max Splits Pundits, Mick to F1?

The calm before the storm of back-to-back races, the past seven days have been light on actual news, if not on newsworthy items.

Lewis Not Going Anywhere: A predictable end to last week’s saga, Lewis Hamilton took to Instagram last Friday to assure fans he wasn’t going anywhere.

At this point, there’s nothing much extra I can add. He cares about the environment, which is great, but he also leads a particularly environmentally unfriendly lifestyle, vegan or not. If Hamilton wants to really make a change, he should focus less on what Joe Public is doing, and more on the companies and brands that line his pockets – it’s them that do the real damage.

Verstappen a goat, or the GOAT? Holy overreactions, Batman! If you thought it was just us fans that got riled up about Max Verstappen, well… you thought wrong.

First Eddie Irvine comes out saying he’s not as good as Charles Leclerc, and then mere hours later, Jenson Button’s trumpeting him as the fastest driver ever.

While both statements come far too soon in the Dutchman’s career to hold much weight, it is nevertheless interesting that Irvine and Button chose to make them. Irvine, who won four races whilst driving for Ferrari, clearly still holds an affinity for the reds which is somewhat clouding his judgement – not to say Verstappen is undeniably better, but when you’re basing your reasoning on “a much lower error rate” despite costly mistakes in Baku, Monaco and Suzuka this year, it doesn’t quite hold weight.

On the other hand, it’s impossible for Button to compare Verstappen’s raw speed to someone like Senna (although it’s noteworthy that he rates him over his old teammate Hamilton), and just like Irvine’s argument, it doesn’t quite hold up when you consider the facts – more specifically, the fact that Verstappen has one career pole position.

Mick Wants to Move Up: 2019 has been a bit of an odd year for Mick Schumacher. Graduating to F2, the young German has had a spotty season at best, and yet, now here he is, declaring he’s ready for F1.

Here’s the thing though: I think he might actually be right. Even if his F2 campaign hasn’t yielded much in the way of results, he’s at least shown decent ability with his sprint win in Hungary and several other comeback drives through the field, and I don’t see how learning at (presumably) Alfa Romeo across from Kimi Raikkonen would be any less beneficial than squaring off with his current teammate, the chicken king, Sean Gelael.

Certainly age isn’t an issue – 20 is not that young these days in motorsport – and as Stoffel Vandoorne, Pierre Gasly, Jolyon Palmer and many others have shown, sticking it around in a lesser formulae until you nab a title doesn’t make you a F1-worthy driver. Additionally, Lando Norris told me in Germany he actually found driving a F1 car easier for his driving style – maybe the hard-charging Schumi junior will be similar. In any case, he either has enough there to develop, or he doesn’t, why not start finding out?

Alonso “Will Think About” F1 Return: Because apparently we can’t go a week in the F1 world without mentioning Fernando Alonso, here he is again, talking a potential F1 return, and as per usual, nothing is going to come of it.

To his credit, the man is doing a good job of literally moving-on to the next phase of his career, what with the Dakar Rally attempt and the like, but it seems some small part of him holds out hope one of the big-three will come calling. Speaking as someone who rates him very highly, I think that unfortunately, it might be time to rule-out that possibility.

Particularly with the emergence of Charles Leclerc this year, there is simply no place for Alonso to go. Where previously you could’ve speculated Sebastian Vettel’s (very unlikely) exit from the Scuderia would create space for him, now they have another alpha dog in the Monegasque, and ditto for Red Bull and Mercedes.

Even further down the grid, McLaren would be a tough sell, given both his history and their current partnership, who are as friendly with each other as they are quick on the track. Perhaps Renault is an option? Daniel Ricciardo would probably be a bit more accepting of his presence than other team leaders, but they just made a commitment to Esteban Ocon, and considering Alonso would probably want to wait until the French outfit is, y’know… good, he wouldn’t want to join before 2022 at the earliest, when he will be turning 41.

No, I think this is it for old Nando. I’m sure that won’t stop the stories from him and his mate Flavio still popping up, but he would need something crazy, like Lewis Hamilton retiring, to create a (very small) opening. The good news is he’s already proven there’s life in motorsport beyond F1 – here’s hoping he continues to live it.


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Schumacher's manager backs Mick to succeed in F1

Michael Schumacher’s long-time manager Sabine Kehm has said that the seven-time world champion’s son Mick has what it takes to succeed in Formula 1.

She said that she believes Mick can follow in his father’s footsteps and one day claim the world championship for himself.

“I am sure that Mick will end up in Formula 1 sooner or later,” she told Die Welt newspaper this week. “Although I hope it’s the former!”

“I am convinced that he will do very well there,” she continued. “He’s already done a great job.

“I can only conclude that Mick will be able to realise his dream of becoming a world champion,” she added.

Schumacher clinched last year’s FIA European F3 title with a fantastic run of back-to-back wins to overhaul longtime series leader Dan Ticktum and was signed up to the Ferrari Driver Academy.

But he’s had a harder time since moving to Formula 2 in 2019. Although he was victorious in the Hungary sprint event, he’s failed to finish in five of the most recent six races.

As a result Schumacher is only 12th in the drivers standings with just 51 points for Prema, compared to ART’s Nyck de Vries who clinched the title at Sochi on 266 points with one round still to go.

“Mick has had a very unlucky season,” Kehm admitted. “I sympathise with him. He has struggled with an incredible amount of bad luck. And of course, he also still has a lot to learn.

“But Mick is very good at analysing things, learning the right lessons and then making adjustments,” she said, sticking to her view that he would make it all the way to the top of F1.

.

However, the raised expectations of carrying the Schumacher name can undoubtedly be a heavy burden in motorsport, as much as it’s also a great honour. It’s why Mick initially started his racing career under the pseudonym of Mick Betsch

“Before I entered the Formula series I always used my mother’s name,” Schumacher told the Road to F1 podcast this month.

“That ensured that the hype was somewhat suppressed and that I had the time to develop,” he explained. “It also gave me the opportunity to learn at my own speed. That was very positive for me.”

But even then it was hard to keep the secret under wraps.

“If photos were taken, I was always the person who kindly asked if they would not do that so that we could safeguard privacy.

“Did I drive with more freedom when I had my mother’s name on the car? I wouldn’t call it that,” he said.

Race 2, Mick Schumacher (GER) PREMA Racing race winner

He also used the name Mick Junior, but eventually reached the point where he had to ‘go public’.

“From the moment I drove in the Formulas, it was a good time to consider putting my real name on the car,” he said.

He’s not getting used to being in the spotlight, including a demonstration run in his father’s F2004 at Hockenheim this summer.

“It was a strange feeling,” he told Autoweek. “Obviously I had never experienced something like that before. That was just a little bit of what my dad experienced.

“It was hard for me to imagine how it must have been for him, but it was nice. You really feel the vibe and the support of the people.”

And the experience has only made him hungrier to make it into F1.

“Sure, I think about it,” he said. “That’s my dream. It’s where I want to go, and that’s where I want to basically live my life.

“I feel ready,” he added.

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