MANAMA (Reuters) – Mick Schumacher, son of seven-times world champion Michael, will ascend the first step on the ladder that could one day like his father lead him to Ferrari when he makes his Formula One debut with Haas next season.
The 21-year-old, who will line up alongside Russian Nikita Mazepin in an all-rookie line-up on a multi-year deal at the U.S.-owned team, is a part of Ferrari’s young driver academy (FDA) that has produced the likes of Charles Leclerc and the late Jules Bianchi.
Leclerc, in only his third season in Formula One, is already a winner for Ferrari.
Bianchi, who was one-day lined up to join the Italian champions, suffered his eventually fatal accident while driving for the Ferrari-affiliated Marussia squad.
Like the pair, Schumacher is being brought into Formula One to learn the ropes with a smaller team that has ties to Ferrari, with Haas using the Italian team’s engines, gearboxes as well as other components they are allowed to buy under the rules.
“I’ve been working with FDA since the beginning of 2019,” Schumacher, who will be taking part in opening practice at the season finale in Abu Dhabi next week, told reporters on Wednesday.
“I wouldn’t be here now without them… I’m looking forward to keep working with them next year.”
Congratulating Schumacher on his promotion, the FDA in a statement said that like with Bianchi and Leclerc, its plan is to see him progress with the “eventual aim of one day driving for the Scuderia.”
Ferrari, with whom Michael won five of his seven titles, has already signed Spaniard Carlos Sainz to drive alongside Leclerc in 2021 and 2022.
Even if a seat becomes available in the future, Schumacher, who won the European Formula 3 title in 2018, will have to earn any promotion with his performances on track as well as fight off other Ferrari juniors.
Schumacher, who will face intense scrutiny as embarks on his Formula One career, said for now he was simply overwhelmed to be following in his father’s footsteps and called his promotion a dream come true.
However, it came as no surprise to his mother Corinna.
“My mum? She was actually quite unsurprised in a way.
“She was like ‘Yeah, I was sure you were going to make it’, so I always felt the greatest support from her side and from everybody in the family.”
He said he would use 47, a combination of two numbers that mean a lot to him, as his race number.
Four was the number he raced to the F3 title with and while he has chosen seven partly in tribute to Schumacher senior’s seven world titles.
“And then… what let’s say underlined it was the fact that if you calculated all the birthdays of our family together it would equal 47,” he said.
“It just underlined that we should choose that number.”
Michael Schumacher, who retired in 2012 after a three-season comeback with Mercedes, has not been seen in public since suffering severe head injuries in a skiing accident in the French Alps in 2013.
(Reporting by Abhishek Takle; editing by Christian Radnedge)