Michael Schumacher’s son, Mick, will take part in his first Formula One race weekend at the Eifel Grand Prix in Germany next week. The 21-year-old will drive in the first practice session for Alfa Romeo and Britain’s Callum Ilott will also make his F1 debut during practice for Haas. Both drivers are members of the Ferrari academy.
The test at the Nürburgring carries significance. Alfa Romeo are to all intents and purposes Ferrari’s junior squad and Haas are a customer team very closely attached to the Scuderia.
Neither team has concluded a new contract with any of their drivers for next year. With seven races remaining, they will now be negotiating their seats for next year. At least one of the Ferrari junior drivers can be expected to take one of the four seats available.
At Alfa Romeo Antonio Giovinazzi, also a former Ferrari academy driver, is in his second season in F1 but was overlooked for promotion to Ferrari for 2021, with the team instead opting to sign McLaren’s Carlos Sainz. Alfa’s other driver, Kimi Raikkonen, has yet to decide his future but the former world champion is 40 and in his 18th season in F1.
The Haas team principal, Guenther Steiner, indicated at the Russian Grand Prix that they were considering their options. “If you think in the long term then maybe we should do a year with young drivers and prepare them for 2022 because that is also an investment,” he said.
Schumacher’s presence at the Nürburgring carries great weight. His father, who is in recovery from the skiing accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury in 2013, is revered in Germany and the family name attracts interest like no other. The prospect of a Schumacher returning to F1, potentially on the path to a drive with Ferrari, with whom Schumacher won five world championships, is one that will be greeted enthusiastically across the country.
“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said. “The fact my first participation in a Formula One weekend will take place in front of my home audience at the Nürburgring makes this moment even more special.”
Schumacher leads the F2 championship by 22 points from Ilott, with four races remaining, taking place at the two grands prix in Bahrain. Both drivers will test the 2018 Ferrari at the Scuderia’s Fiorano test track on Wednesday in preparation for their F1 debuts.
A third Ferrari academy driver, Russia’s Robert Shwartzman, will take part in first practice at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.