Formula 1 driver Mick Schumacher is looking forward to making his F1 grand prix debut at the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix later this month at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC).
The young German driver ended last year on a high after being crowned the 2020 FIA Formula 2 champion at the Sakhir circuit.
This year, as he starts his first F1 season driving for Haas, he will be thinking of childhood memories of the first-ever F1 race in the kingdom, which his father, legendary driver Michael Schumacher, won in 2004.
“I have vivid memories of my father emerging from the corridor and the paddock area at the BIC,” the 22-year-old driver told the GDN during a Haas Press conference, after the team revealed its 2021 livery.
“I have enjoyed driving on the Bahrain track in the last few years as an F2 driver and it holds a special place in my heart.”
In 2014, the BIC renamed the first corner of its Grand Prix circuit after Michael Schumacher, honouring the driver during its 10th anniversary and first-ever night race.
With Bahrain set to host its first F1 season-opener since 2014, the younger Schumacher’s first-ever F1 grand prix corner will be the Schumacher turn.
The BIC has always been special for the young F1 driver. In April 2019, Schumacher made his debut behind the wheel of a modern F1 car, at the ‘Home of Motorsport in the Middle East,’ piloting Ferrari’s SF90 during the first day of in-season testing.
Although he has been part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, training as an F1 driver since 2019, he has yet to compete in an F1 grand prix.
Unfortunately, his father is yet to be able to come watch him drive at the circuit, after sustaining a traumatic brain injury in a life-changing skiing accident in 2013, a year after retiring from motorsport.
The seven-time F1 world champion has been recovering since then, though updates regarding his condition have been few and far between.
“We all know that Michael had a very serious accident and unfortunately it had significant consequences for him,” Jean Todt, FIA president and Schumacher senior’s former Ferrari boss, told reporters in December.
“Since then, he has been treated so that he can be able to return to a more normal life. Of course, he is following his son’s career.
“I see Michael once or twice a month. My answer is the same all the time – he fights.”
Schumacher Jnr has big shoes to fill, coming from one of the most famous motorsport families. As if the pressure of being his father’s progeny wasn’t enough, his uncle Ralf also drove in F1 for more than a decade, and his step-uncle Sebastian Stahl competed in the 24-hours Nürburgring race.
His cousin, David Schumacher, who began karting at a young age alongside him, will be driving in the Formula 3 championship.
Schumacher Jnr will be racing under the number 47. When asked why, he explained: “I raced under the number four when I was F3 champion and seven is very close to me as well. As both four and seven were taken, I think 47 was the best choice and then there was the fact that if you calculated all the birthdays of our family together, it would equal 47.”
Bahrain will be hosting the pre-season test next weekend and the season-opening race weekend two weeks after that, from March 26 to 28.
Schumacher Jnr is expected to take on the mantle of his motorsport legacy driving for the Ferrari-backed Haas team during these two weekends, alongside teammate Nikita Mazepin.
The team’s red, white and blue livery is a stark change from the grey of years past and reflects the colours of title sponsor Uralkali, which is owned by Mazepin’s billionaire father, Dmitry.