Mick’s way more at ease. He’s himself. He’s not trying to be his dad. But he has ambitions to measure up. They started to coalesce when he won the 2018 FIA European F3 Championship, which meant there could be more than just sentiment involved in his subsequently getting onto the Ferrari Academy programme. The F2 title which followed last year further justified the Scuderia’s backing, as has his rookie F1 season with Haas in which he has done all that could be reasonably be expected of him by dominating his team-mate, fellow rookie Nikita Mazepin. The car is fundamentally slow, essentially a lightly modified version of a machine which had its development frozen two years ago because of the team’s financial circumstances.
There was a hope within the Schumacher camp that he might be ‘promoted’ to the other Ferrari customer team Alfa Romeo for next year but that isn’t something which Ferrari can simply make happen. The Alfa-sponsored Sauber team is still an independent entity and has its own priorities. So Schumacher has just been confirmed for a second year at Haas.
Hopefully the fact that the little team began planning for its 2022 car as its big priority so long ago will result in something more competitive, which can at least race the cars around it rather than hanging off the back of the field. But it might be difficult to accurately assess Mick’s progress there, in the same team with the same team-mate. If he can begin to obviously transcend the car in the way that George Russell has done at Williams for the last couple of seasons, then yes. But otherwise, how will we know Mick’s potential?
It’s still difficult to define. He’s still finding his way, but he is someone who will absolutely give everything he’s got to fulfilling his ambitions. He’s got this chance, he’s got Ferrari behind him, he’s completed a strong rookie season, he’s got his father’s work ethic and a burning desire to honour Michael. But on his own terms. The steel is there beneath the humility. He’s probably going to need it but don’t bet against him prevailing.