I have written a few times this season about those currently in the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) who are competing in Formula 2 in 2020, as well as their potential to be in a Formula 1 seat in 2021, most likely with Alfa Romeo Racing. While Robert Shwartzman and Callum Ilott have more than stated their own case on a potential drive there is another FDA driver, Mick Schumacher, who is strengthening his own case for a seat.
Schumacher’s maiden Formula 2 season in 2019 was perhaps underwhelming as he was the fourth best rookie in the series. He ended the season twelfth 21 points behind eleventh placed, and fellow rookie, Callum Ilott and 87 points behind the best placed rookie of Guanyu Zhou in seventh. During the German’s maiden season in Formula 2 he visited the podium only once thanks to his sprint race victory during the Hungarian Grand Prix. He retired five times across the season with a further seven finishes outside of the top ten, ultimately claiming only nine points finishes (including his sprint race victory).Embed from Getty Images
It looked like 2020 would go similarly as it did in 2019 for Schumacher and it wasn’t helped by the strong early season form of fellow FDA drivers Callum Ilott, and perhaps more importantly, Robert Shwartzman who is Schumacher’s teammate at Prema Racing in 2020 and is a rookie in Formula 2. Both Ilott and Shwartzman set out their title challenges early in the season while Schumacher struggled to build similar title challenging momentum.
However going into this weekend’s Tuscan Grand Prix Schumacher has finished inside the points in the last eight races of which six are podium finishes. The third place the German inherited in the Italian Grand Prix sprint race, after race winner Dan Ticktum’s disqualification, means he is on a five race consecutive podium finish run. It also means he has claimed double podium finishes across a Grand Prix weekend in three of the eight events held so far in 2020. All of this leaves him, at the time of writing, second in the championship six points behind championship leader Ilott and three ahead of third placed Shwartzman.
Yet Schumacher’s time in Formula 2 has run to a similar theme to his performances in other junior categories. In 2015 he finished his maiden season in ADAC Formula 4 tenth before going on to finish second in the series the following season. In the MRF Challenge Formula 2000 category he finished his first season of 2015-16 tenth and then went on to finish third in 2016-17. It was a similar story in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship where Schumacher finished his first season twelfth before winning the championship the following season. The only outlier perhaps is the German’s Italian Formula 4 campaign in 2016 where he finished second in the championship in his sole season in the category.Embed from Getty Images
This potentially raises the concern that Schumacher may struggle in his first season in Formula 1, were he to secure a seat, when rookies need to make a strong impression in the sport if they want to be able secure more seasons in the series. The importance of a strong rookie season is amplified when you consider the number of talented young drivers Ferrari have in the FDA currently competing at Formula 2 and Formula 3 level.
There does however need to be some realistic expectations of Mick Schumacher when looking at his junior career and were he to drive for Alfa Romeo Racing in the near future. It can’t just be expected of him to dominate any particular junior category and/or his teammate just because he has a famous surname in motorsport.
Schumacher’s current form by no means jumps him to first in line should one of the current FDA drivers be required to fill the Ferrari controlled seat at Alfa Romeo Racing. But the German’s form at the very least means he is mounting a stronger case than he was earlier in the season, giving Ferrari and Alfa Romeo Racing a bigger problem of who they choose for 2021.