Mick Schumacher‘s stock is on the rise. After struggling in his debut Formula 1 season in a Haas car barely fit for purpose, the German has started to show some of the potential his F2 championship title – and his name – promised.
The 23-year-old had the measure of his vastly experienced and fast teammate Kevin Magnussen as the Red Bull Ring played host to the latest round of an enthralling Formula 1 season.
Magnussen returned to the American team this year when Nikita Mazepin‘s contract was terminated due to his family’s ties to Russian despot Vladimir Putin.
Despite a year out, the Dane was immediately on the pace, regularly winning the head-to-head battle in qualifying and race trim. However, perhaps that is the pill Schumacher needed to swallow.
With a benchmark to aim for, set by a driver once tipped as a future world champion and one who stood on the podium after a stunning debut in 2014 for McLaren, Schumacher‘s performances have undoubtedly improved.
“Kevin had a great start to the season and that got me as a racing driver,” Schumacher told Sky Sports F1.
“As an athlete you’re always after that pressure because that’s what’s going to light that candle under the bum to make you go quick. I think it did in some ways.
“At Silverstone coming in in the points was just what I needed to set off the fireworks.”
Back in the frame for a Ferrari future?
Tipped as a Ferrari driver in waiting for obvious reasons, the second his place in F1 was confirmed, it would be reasonable to assume doubts had crept in among the Scuderia hierarchy, especially given the strength and youthfulness of their current line-up.
One weekend doesn’t make a career, of course, but such a result in such a manner will have been welcomed by no small minority of the Ferrari family.
After insisting he had more pace than his teammate during Saturday’s F1 Sprint, Schumacher was frustrated after conceding eighth place late on to Lewis Hamilton, and missing out on the final point on offer.
He got his own back in the race proper, capitalising on Hamilton‘s mistake on the exit of Turn 1 to blast past in his Haas that displayed a serious turn of speed among the hills of Spielberg.
However, to credit his upturn in form purely to the Ferrari engine would be to do Schumacher a disservice, for anyone tuning in would have noticed a more combative approach to wheel-to-wheel racing, the kind of which his father was famous for.
“It was a lot of fun out there,” Schumacher added. “We had to battle our way through, which at times you don’t want but in this case it was great for experience but also to really show what we were able to do.
“I think we’re going in the right direction. We have scored points in Silverstone, we scored points today and we could have scored points yesterday. It shows a steep upwards trend, which is what we are after.”
The superior overall package of the Mercedes eventually prevailed on Lap 14 but Schumacher took the chance to prove he wasn’t bluffing when he insisted he had his teammate’s number.
And it could hardly have been more emphatic as he pulled off one of the moves of the day, diving down the inside at the usually processional final corner before battling to a career-best sixth-place finish.
Having waited 31 races, that’s now two points-yielding results in a row for the man following in the footsteps of a giant.
The challenge now? Sustaining the level everyone now knows he is capable of.
“Hopefully we will be able to keep it in Paul Ricard and Budapest before the summer break,” Schumacher concluded, “and start off well with a new update and the upgrades we’ll have on the car for a really strong second part of the season.”