‘He’s going to go a long way’ – Vettel backs Schumacher ahead of FP1 debut
Sebastian Vettel grew up idolising Michael Schumacher as he romped to title after title in Ferrari red. This weekend, all these years later, it’s Vettel who’ll be wearing the famous red colours of the Prancing Horse, as Michael’s son Mick takes part in his first F1 session – and the four-time world champion admitted he was delighted to see his fellow countryman make the step up.
Schumacher Jr, this year’s front runner in Formula 2 and a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, is set to take part in FP1 for Alfa Romeo at the Nurburgring as he continues to state a case for promotion to F1. Just as Vettel looked up to his seven-time world champion father, the 21-year-old has previously spoken very highly of Vettel’s impact on him.
Asked how he felt about potentially being overshadowed on his home Grand Prix weekend, Vettel said he wasn't concerned in the slightest - quite the opposite in fact.
“First of all, I don’t care [about being upstaged],” he said. “Second, I think [Mick] deserves his shot this weekend and hopefully we see him not only tomorrow, but hopefully another Friday this year, and then hopefully in the car in a race seat next year. I think that’s what I wish for him.”
“He’s having a great season, he’s leading the Formula 2 Championship and as I said I hope he can seal the seat for next year. I think he’s a great kid and I really like him and I’m sure he’s going to go a long way and do well. This is probably a sort of kick-off for him.”
Reports have linked Mick Schumacher with a seat at Alfa Romeo in 2021, with the German, who will take Antonio Giovinazzi’s seat for FP1 on Friday, a strong contender to replace the Italian next season.
A man who knows that path only too well is former FDA alumni Charles Leclerc, who graduated to F1 with Sauber in 2018 having made his FP1 debut with Ferrari customer team Haas at Silverstone in 2016.
“Well, looking at the conditions this weekend it’s probably not the easiest of debuts, but speaking to him I think every time he tried a Formula 1 car or a new car it was always in the rain so that does not change much for him,” said Leclerc.
“It is going to be a tricky session, but he doesn’t have to prove anything. I think he has proved everything he can in Formula 2 this season and I am sure he will do a great job tomorrow.”
Mick Schumacher got up to speed for his FP1 run by testing two-year-old Formula 1 machinery at Ferrari’s Fiorano circuit with F2 rivals Calum Ilott and Robert Shwartzman - but he's never taken the wheel of a 2020 F1 car. His Friday appearance marks nine years since the Schumacher name was seen at the Nurburgring for a Grand Prix, with Michael Schumacher having won five F1 races here in total.
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