Ahead of his debut as an official F1 driver for Haas team, almost 30 years after his father’s Jordan debut, 21-year-old Mick Schumacher released an exclusive interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, during which he talked extensively about his relationship with Sebastian Vettel, Mattia Binotto and his expectations for the 2021 season.
Next Thursday Haas will unveil their new VF-21 for the 2021 campaign, in the meantime, the German youngster is spending his pre-season in England, training and getting ready for his debut on the premier series.
Mick believes the hardest challenge of being a rookie will be adjusting to a completely different environment, where strategies and tyre-management are much more complicated than in the junior series.
"In F1 the strategy is much more complicated. You have to choose the right tires at the right time, taking into account the safety car and the yellow flags. These are situations that I will have to get used to and in which it is important to work. I hope, by the end of the year, to help the team make decisions.
At the same time, because of F1’s decision to reduce the schedule for pre-season testing, Schumacher will only have three days of running in Bahrain before his real Haas debut.
"It's a shame, I've always loved going out on the track. Unfortunately, they have reduced the chances of doing so, but we're all in the same boat."
Given his famous surname, the eyes of the world will be on him, whatever he does, expectations are pretty high. However, his surname won’t be a burden, says Mick.
“Comparisons will take place, but it doesn't matter."
When asked about whether he has set a goal to be satisfied at the end of the season, Mick claims that he just aims at improving race in and race out.
“The goal is to grow with the team day by day. We work together with the team. There is trust and collaboration" he says,
"[I would be satisfied if I had] an improvement compared to the first races. I would also be happy to score points."
The 21-year-old driver is well aware of the criticisms that will fall on you at the first mistake. However, he is convinced that critics can make him stronger, it is all a matter of mindset.
"It depends on how you react. If you accept criticism in a negative way, it will not be good. If you accept it, if it comes from people you like, you can convert the negative into the positive. This is what I do."
Although he’ll be driving with Haas this season, Schumacher is part of the Ferrari Driver Academy and he will still be guided by the Maranello-based team and its team boss, Mattia Binotto.
Asked what advice the Ferrari team principal has given him ahead of his debut, Mick said: “If I think about it, the first that comes to mind is be quick.”
However, Binotto isn’t the only mentor the young driver can count on. Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, who always described Michael Schumacher as his hero, is one of Mick's biggest supporters.
“Seb and I talk to each other regularly,” he said.
“He has great experience and gives me advice. He’s keeping an eye on me.”
Racing has been a family tradition for decades, since he was a child Mick knew he wanted to compete, but it is only after getting his first victories in F3 that he realized he could aim for the premier series.
“My oldest Formula 1 memory? I was sitting in front of the TV. I can't say which Grand Prix I was watching, but one thing remains in my memory: I also wanted to compete."
“I always thought about that. I started to believe that after the success in F3. In F2, I had problems at the beginning, but last year I won the championship and here I am. "
While he’s very happy to be making his debut as part of the Haas team, the dream is to become a Ferrari driver one day, just like his dad.
"I'm very happy to be at Haas. It's my debut, I would like it to come out in the best possible way. Then we'll see what the future holds. Now, everything is unpredictable, but I do.
“I don't deny it: it would be a dream to drive a Ferrari like my father."