Mick Schumacher: Return of legendary name to the grid can help make Formula 1 exciting again
Mick Schumacher makes his Formula 1 debut this weekend, following in the footsteps of his seven-time world champion dad, Michael. The Haas driver’s entrance into the sport will capture the imagination of casual fans who may have been put off by its predictability in recent years.
It may be a controversial opinion, but unless you are a die-hard F1 fan, you would be forgiven for thinking the sport has gone a bit stale.
Without taking away Lewis Hamilton’s superb achievement of winning seven world championships, Mercedes’ dominance has brought with it a routine predictability which has inevitably driven casual fans away.
The addition of Mick Schumacher will sprinkle a little stardust back on to the grid. Just seeing ‘MSC’ back on those famous race graphics at this weekend's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix will bring a tingle to many who grew up watching his dad, Michael, become a worldwide hero. A simple search on social media would suggest Schumacher Jr is gaining quite the fan club of his own.
The irony of this, of course, is that the romance of it all actually comes from a similar period of predictability which mirrors the situation we are in now. Especially during his days at Ferrari, Michael swept away his opponents to himself record seven world titles - matched only by Hamilton.
F1 knows it has a problem in reaching a new fan base, and that is why the sprint races are being introduced this season. There is plenty of talk that this longest ever season could also be its most competitive for a while, with Red Bull threatening to challenge Mercedes, but similar previews have predicted the same and failed to deliver.
Mick Schumacher will make his F1 race debut for Haas at the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend
Image credit: Getty Images
So let us focus on one certainty - that Mick Schumacher’s enthusiasm and genuine excitement is infectious, and he is not here by name alone.
While it is obvious more doors will have opened for him because of his father, Mick was snapped up by Haas after winning the Formula 2 world title. He quite clearly has some of that family talent that also saw Michael’s brother Ralf have a successful career.
He is also very happy to embrace the family name. Mick has repeatedly said he does not see it as a burden and rather a privilege, revealing he idolises his dad, who the public have not seen or heard from since his ski accident in 2013.
No one is expecting Mick to do anything spectacular in his first season with Haas, a mid to low ranking team who will be expected to start nearer the back of the grid than the front. But it will be interesting to see whether that stubborn determination shown by his dad exists in him to make the most of a bad situation. It is clear he is relishing his race debut on Sunday.
“Yes, it has sunk in. Obviously, I’m super excited about the first race in Bahrain”, he recently told the Haas website.
Thinking about it, it’s 30 years since my dad started his first race, and now I’m starting mine. The fact that I’m in Formula 1 and away to be racing – it feels so amazing.
“I’m so happy that I’m finally there, finally able to race with everybody, and to show my potential working with a great team. I will learn and improve as a driver and as a human.”
Haas is, inevitably, a potential stepping stone to the ultimate destination - putting a Schumacher back in the red of Ferrari. The Italian team have already had the German on their books as an academy driver, taking part in testing for the first time in 2019.
They will be monitoring his progress, as will thousands of casual fans who will be intrigued to see whether a Schumacher can one day return to the top of the podium and just like his father, famously conduct the Italian national anthem.
Remarkable Hamilton equals Schumacher's tally of seven world titles