Ferrari Academy driver Mick Schumacher scored a win and a third place in Russia to move further ahead in the Formula 2 championship. With just 2 rounds remaining in the season, Schumacher is now the firm title favourite.
If any doubt remained that Mick Schumacher is ready for Formula 1, it was dispelled in Russia this weekend. Schumacher qualified third on Friday, won the Feature Race on Saturday and finished third in the shortened Sprint Race on Sunday from 8th on the reverse grid.
Schumacher’s Sochi Feature Race win was by far his most significant in F2 thus far. In each of his previous two F2 wins, there were circumstances that conspired to help him – in Hungary last year he started on reverse grid pole position for the Sprint Race by finishing 8th in the Feature Race, and at Monza this year he inherited the Feature Race lead when Callum Ilott stalled in the pits. At Sochi, there were no such convenient circumstances. Schumacher was simply the quickest driver in the field on the day.
In the Sochi Sprint Race, Schumacher started 8th (the top 8 positions in the Feature Race are reversed for the Sprint Race grid), and started very well to run fourth on the opening lap. A bold pass on Jack Aitken took Schumacher to third, a little under five seconds off the lead. We’ll never know if Schumacher could have caught the leaders, as the Sprint Race at Sochi was stopped due to a massive crash in turn 3 between Luca Ghiotto and Jack Aitken on lap 7. While both drivers were unharmed, the damage to the barriers was so great that the race was not resumed, and half points were awarded as the 21-lap race had not yet reached 75% distance.
Schumacher’s successful weekend puts him 21 points ahead of Callum Ilott in the Formula 2 Drivers’ Championship with 2 rounds to go. There is a maximum of 48 points available per race weekend (4 for pole position, 25 for the Feature Race win, 15 for the Sprint Race win and 2 per race for the fastest lap). This means Schumacher can clinch the title at the next round in Bahrain if he scores 28 or more points over the course of the weekend.
As Schumacher’s impressive 2020 F2 season continues, there has been increased speculation about his plans for 2021. His goal is to race in Formula 1, presumably as soon as possible. To achieve that, he needs to be offered a race seat by a Formula 1 and he must qualify for an FIA Super Licence to be permitted to compete in F1.
As a Ferrari Academy driver, Schumacher is in contention for a drive at one of the Formula 1 teams supported by Ferrari. Aside from the Ferrari works team, whose drivers are already chosen for 2021 (Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz), the other Ferrari-powered teams are Haas and Alfa Romeo, neither of which has made an announcement about driver line-ups for next season. It is possible that Schumacher could end up driving for either of those 2 teams. Based on his strong results this season – 2 wins and 10 podiums – it seems likely that Schumacher will at least be strongly considered for a 2021 F1 drive.
As for the FIA Super Licence, Schumacher must accumulate at least 40 points over 3 seasons to be eligible for the licence required for F1. He already has 30 points for winning the European Formula 3 championship in 2018. That leaves him with 10 points required in 2020, which he will achieve if he finishes 6th or higher in this year’s Formula 2 championship. Schumacher is currently leading the F2 championship and 69 points ahead of 7th placed Louis Deletraz with 96 points left to play for in 2020. It seems likely therefore that Schumacher will earn his FIA Super Licence by the end of 2020.
The Formula 2 championship now takes an almost 2 month break after Russia before returning for 2 consecutive rounds at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain to finish off the season. The first one, running the usual Grand Prix Circuit layout, runs on the weekend of 27 to 29 November 2020. The second Bahrain round wraps up the F2 season a week later, running the high-speed Outer Circuit layout. Schumacher has 2 months to train, prepare and not lose focus if he is to emerge triumphant from this Formula 2 season.