HOCKENHEIM, Germany — Mick Schumacher said he never stopped smiling during a demo run of his father Michael’s 2004 Ferrari, which was a perfect fit in every sense of the word.
Schumacher, 20, drove the car in front of a delighted home crowd, completing three laps in the F2004 which his father took to a home victory at Hockenheim in 2004, on route to that season’s title. It was Michael’s seventh and final championship, a mark which still remains the most by a single driver in F1.
The youngster was wearing a half-and-half helmet — his colours on one side, Michael’s famous red Ferrari lid design on the other. When he’s out of the car he is a spitting image of his father and on Saturday afternoon he confirmed the similarities do not simply end at facial features, with the original seat needing no alterations for him to fit inside.
“It was great,” Mick said afterwards. “It was amazing to be able to drive the car around here, it was my dad’s seat and everything, I fitted perfectly so that was even greater.”
Proving that good things come to those who wait, having got suited up and strapped into the car, Schumacher was forced to wait at the end of the pit-lane before hitting the track properly.
“I just wanted to go out and I just wanted to drive! Obviously having to wait, even in front of the pit exit, was more like torture. I just wanted to turn [the lights] myself and go out.
“Going out of the pitlane and coming into the pitlane I never lost a smile. It was always on my face. Even when I was locking up, I was smiling! It was really cool.”
Schumacher is due another demonstration run on Sunday ahead of the German Grand Prix itself. As ever, a huge amount of attention followed the young German driver, with a packed TV pen listening to him speak after the demonstration run.
His career has come under such scrutiny that he started racing under a different name — Mick Betsch, taking the maiden name of his mother — to avoid unwanted attention. His elevation into the ranks of Ferrari, the team synonymous with his father’s career, only increased the hype around him this season, although his debut Formula 2 season has so far been challenging. Schumacher is yet to finish on the podium in that series.
Fellow countryman Sebastian Vettel, who followed in Michael’s footsteps as Germany’s second Formula One world champion, urged some caution around the younger Schumacher’s career earlier this weekend.
“I think it’s crucial that he’s given the time he needs,” Vettel said on Thursday. “I think it’s fair to judge him and his racing like every one of us has been judged and will be judged, but it’s not right to measure and compare too much to other people and to his father.
“I don’t think it’s fair. It’s a different time, different racing. Michael was the one who set off a huge hype when we were kids and therefore the name Schumacher is 100% known in Germany due to him.
“Obviously to have Mick at the doorstep of F1 and one day hopefully joining would be huge and hopefully a big boost for Germany. On top of that, despite the name, he’s a great guy, he’s a nice kid so I think our fingers are crossed for him.”