RACE DEBRIEF

    Ferrari junior Mick Schumacher is ticking the boxes and making good progress in his debut Formula 1 season with Haas, says Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto.

    Schumacher won last year’s F2 championship, with Ferrari choosing to promote their Driver Academy racer into F1 with engine customer Haas for this season.

    But with Haas choosing not to develop their 2021 challenger, to allow them to fully focus resources on 2022 when the all-new F1 rules come into force, it’s been a challenge for the 22-year-old to show his capability.

    READ MORE: Steiner says Haas rookies must learn when to take risks with crashes getting ‘too frequent and too heavy’

    There have been difficult moments, such as on-track clashes with team mate Nikita Mazepin, and crashes in Hungary practice, qualifying in Monaco and the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

    But there have also been highlights including his first Q2 appearance at Paul Ricard and a battling performance in Hungary – where he went wheel-to-wheel with Max Verstappen and George Russell – on his way to a career-best 12th.

    2021 Hungarian Grand Prix: Verstappen and Schumacher bang wheels during overtake

    And after the first half of the season, Binotto declared himself “happy” with the Ferrari junior’s performance – before calling on him to keep pushing in the final 12 races of the year.

    “Mick in his very first year in F1 driving for Haas, I think we said at the start of the season that the objective for him was first no pressure, but to make sure that he is learning,” said Binotto. “So 2021 has to be for him an important year in terms of learning. And I think if we look at that objective he is doing well.

    READ MORE: Schumacher proud he didn't 'crack under pressure' when racing frontrunners in Hungary

    “I think Mick since the start of the season is doing well, he is learning, he is progressing. Obviously a few mistakes, but that's part of the learning process. Overall in terms of balance so far, we can be happy. What’s important for him is to continue developing and progressing in the second half. But I'm confident he can do that.”

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    Mick Schumacher's 12th place in Hungary, where he fought well against Verstappen and Russell, was the best of his career so far

    Ferrari displayed impressive strength and depth in their junior ranks last year, with Callum Ilott second behind Schumacher in F2, with Robert Shwartzman fourth.

    This year is less impressive, Shwarztman is their leading contender in third, 17 points behind leader Oscar Piastri, with Marcus Armstrong down in 14th.

    “If I look at the junior drivers for the Ferrari Driver Academy, I think there's no doubt that in terms of results it is not as good as last year,” he said.

    “Last year, especially in F2, we had great results, which is not the case [this year]. So overall we cannot be as happy as we were.”