Is 2020 Mick Schumacher’s year?

Mick Schumacher is having a competitive 2020 F2 season (Image: Ferrari)

Among the current Formula 2 drivers, one name stands out: Schumacher. The son of seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher, Mick is in his second season of F2 and hoping to impress enough on track to be promoted to Formula 1 in the near future.

While his name attracts attention easily, Schumacher’s results are more important now in determining his future. In 2020, he is showing promise. It remains to be seen whether or not he will convert that promise into success.

Mick Schumacher’s 2020 results thus far read as follows:

Races: 12
Wins: 0
Podiums: 4
Pole positions: 0
Championship position: 5th – 79 points (2019: 12th – 53 points)

There are a couple of positives to take out of these results. Firstly, Schumacher is a regular podium visitor in 2020. By comparison, he appeared on the podium just once in 2019, when he won the Sprint Race in Hungary. Secondly,  Schumacher has already, after just 6 rounds of the season, scored more points than he did in the whole of 2019. It’s clear that he has taken a step forward in 2020 in that he is almost always in the top 10 and usually fighting for the top few places.

There are, of course, two glaring issues with Schumacher’s stats that need to be resolved if he hopes to graduate to Formula 1. He has scored zero wins and zero pole positions so far this season.

Pole positions provide an indication of out-and-out speed. In qualifying trim, the cars are as light and quick as they can get and it is the driver’s job to maximise that speed. So far in his Formula 2 career, Mick Schumacher has not managed to be fastest in qualifying, recording a best of 3rd on the grid at the first Silverstone round of 2020. For his own career development, it is crucial that he show he can be the fastest driver on track, and qualifying on pole would achieve that goal.

By far the most important step Schumacher needs to make, however, is up to the top of the podium. He needs to win. After all, that is the purpose of racing. So far in 2020, he has occasionally shown the sort of race pace that could result in victory, but things haven’t yet come together to make it happen.

Schumacher’s most recent opportunity for victory came in the Sprint Race at the second Silverstone round. In the closing stages, Schumacher was running second behind his team-mate Robert Shwartzman, with Yuki Tsunoda in third. Schumacher attempted to pass Shwartzman for the lead and the team-mates collided, damaging Shwartzman’s car and putting him out of the top ten. Tsunoda took advantage of the mayhem to take the lead and win ahead of second-placed Schumacher.

Mick Schumacher’s father Michael won the Belgian Grand Prix 6 times (Image: Ferrari)

While any form of victory would be a great step forward for Schumacher, it is particularly in the Feature Races that he needs to triumph. He has already won a Sprint Race, in Hungary in 2019. But the Feature Races are more challenging. They require the driver to use two different tyre compounds and the Feature Races are longer than the Sprint Races. This makes tyre management an important skill for a Formula 2 driver to develop. Schumacher has struggled with his tyres at times in 2020, showing that this is an area he perhaps needs to work on. The ideal way to show that he has overcome any perceived tyre management problems would be to win a Feature Race.

Schumacher is one of five current Formula 2 drivers in the Ferrari Driver Academy. Ferrari nurtures young talent in F2 and other feeder series with a few to promoting drivers to Formula 1 should the opportunity arise and they prove sufficiently competitive. The most recent Ferrari junior driver to be promoted to Formula 1 is Charles Leclerc, who made his F1 debut with Sauber in 2018 and currently races for Ferrari alongside Sebastian Vettel.

One of Schumacher’s challenges this season is to be the top Ferrari Academy Driver in Formula 2. Currently he is third (out of 5) in that regard. The Ferrari juniors ahead in the championship are Callum Ilott (leading the standings) and Robert Shwartzman (2nd in the points table and Schumacher’s team-mate). Considering how well his fellow Ferrari Driver Academy members are doing, Schumacher really needs to mount a serious title challenge to be in contention for a Formula 1 seat.

So far in 2020, Mick Schumacher has shown significant improvement compared to his performances of last season, but it’s not enough yet. The next few races will show if he is able to continue to develop towards his goal of being worthy of a Formula 1 race seat.

The next round of the FIA Formula 2 championship takes place alongside the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps from 28 to 30 September. The circuit was a happy hunting ground for Schumacher’s father – Michael Schumacher made his debut at Spa and won there 6 times during his F1 career. Mick Schumacher will be aiming to take his first Formula 2 victory of the season at the track that is so synonymous with his famous father.

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