Being a second or third generation driver has, of course, its pluses and minuses.
Having a famous name like Brabham, Hill, Villeneuve, Unser or Andretti certainly opens some doors when a young driver is starting out on his racing career. Dad probably has a few extra dollars to help out with initial expenses as well. But then, inevitably, the questions start: Is junior as good as senior? Many young drivers shy away from questions about their fathers.
Taking all this into account, you have to feel sorry for Mick Schumacher whose father Michael is the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time. Then, to make things worse, Michael suffered head injuries in that skiing accident in December 2013. The Schumachers keep his condition a closely guarded secret.
The Schumachers have always been a very private family. Unlike some other drivers, Michael and Corinna Schumacher never brought their children Gina-Maria and Mick to the races. Or if they did, they kept a low profile. When Mick started racing in karts the Schumacher lawyers were ready to pounce on anyone who published photos or stories of him.
But as he came up through the Formula 3 ranks and now Formula 2 this year Mick has had to talk to the media at times. Throw in high-profile Formula 1 tests with Ferrari and Alfa Romeo after the Bahrain Grand Prix, and Mick, who just turned 22, is really in the spotlight.
I have to say that he handled himself and the whole situation remarkably well and with great maturity in Bahrain. He was asked the inevitable question about how he copes with all the extra attention being Michael’s son.
“That’s a difficult question,” Mick replied. “Obviously it’s part of me. I’m the son of my dad, and I’m happy that I am. What he did was the best ever in F1, so that’s something I look up to, and I’m happy to have him as my dad.”
What did he learn from his dad about being a racing driver?
“I guess I wouldn’t be the person that I am now if it wasn’t for him,” he said. “Obviously we’ve shared quite a few points in karting. It helped me a lot along the way.”
I do worry a bit that his career is being fast-tracked a bit too quickly. One year in Formula 3 and now Formula 2. But he’s taking a sensible approach.
“The goal for me really is to learn as much as possible,” Mick said, “to gather as much experience and then to deliver the best potential and the best performance.”
In closing, consider this. The Chinese Grand Prix will be the 1000th Formula 1 World Championship race. Michael Schumacher won a record 91 races, or 9.1 percent of all the F1 races in the past 69 years!
Mick, like all the other racing sons, is just going to have to focus on forging his own path and not worry about comparisons to his famous and successful father.