Mick Schumacher, Prema, Formula Two, Yas Marina, 2018

Why a slow start in F2 could cost Mick Schumacher a 2020 F1 debut

Formula Two

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Mick Schumacher took a major step closer towards following his father Michael and uncle Ralf into Formula 1 last week when Ferrari officially announced he had joined its Driver Academy.

In the eyes of the FIA the 19-year-old has already done enough to deserve a place in F1. Schumacher’s European F3 championship win last year moved him past the threshold of 40 superlicence points needed to graduate to F1.

One of his recent predecessors as F3 champion, Lance Stroll, jumped at his first opportunity to graduate to F1 as soon as he was able to. But rather than follow the 2016 champion’s route, Schumacher is instead adopting the example of Stroll’s successor Lando Norris, and headed for Formula Two instead.

In the long run that may prove a sensible course of action. But in the meantime it puts Schumacher under pressure to deliver or face becoming ineligible to race in F1 next year.

Superlicence points only remain valid for three seasons. That means the 20 points Schumacher scored in 2016 campaigns cannot count towards a 2020 F1 drive.

Mick Schumacher superlicence points

YearPointsSeries
2016102nd in German F4
2016102nd in Italian F4
2017012th in European Formula Three
2018301st in European Formula Three

NB. Schumacher’s third in the 2016-17 MRF Challenge does not earn him superlicence points

As Schumacher didn’t score any superlicence points in 2017, he will need to score at least 10 in his first season of F2 or he won’t able to race an F1 car in 2020. He will need to finish at least sixth in F2 this year to do that, without having to do something like enter the Macau Grand Prix in November where an extra five are available.

How likely is Schumacher to hit that target? He faces many unknowns as he joins F1’s leading junior series. He will have a new car to master, one which many of his rivals already know well from its introduction last year. It will also be his first time getting to grips with the unusual characteristics of Pirelli’s tyres, which are very different from the Hankooks he’s been used to in F3.

But he has the benefit of some continuity through staying with Prema. Not to mention the knowledge that the Lawrence Stroll-owned team took Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc to championship success in its first two seasons at this level.

Within the Prema fold, Schumacher should have no trouble showing points-dodger Sean Gelael the way. He also has the advantage of knowing four of last year’s top five won’t be back (George Russell, Norris and Alexander Albon have all graduated to F1, and Artem Markelov’s career was derailed by his father’s arrest last year. Nor will Schumacher resume his rivalry with Dan Ticktum, as Red Bull has placed their leading junior driver in Japan’s Super Formula championship.

But experienced competition from the likes of Sergio Sette Camara, Nyck de Vries, Jack Aitken and Louis Deletraz will be much tougher benchmark for Schumacher. And there are still eight vacant slots on the 20-car grid.

A strong F2 debut this year could sweep the bearer of F1’s most famous surname to a debut a little over 12 months from now. But if he doesn’t hit the ground running, making that F1 debut in the near future could get a lot trickier.

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    Keith Collantine
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  • 31 comments on “Why a slow start in F2 could cost Mick Schumacher a 2020 F1 debut”

    1. btw how does that work for Kubica?

      1. He already had a previous super licence so needed only to do the 300 km test.

    2. Why not get him a super license now and make him reserve driver of Ferrari or Sauber?

      1. @silfen That wouldn’t give him a super license. He’d need to take part in a competitive sessions. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIA_Super_Licence

        1. @tonyyeb

          That is at least an outdated reference in Wikipedia, as no such requirement is currently present in the applicable rules:

          https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/appendix_l_2019_clean_published_on_20_december_2018.pdf

          1. @proesrerchen Ok. This is why he can’t apply for it now and just race F2 and be reserve driver:

            5.4.2 The Super Licence and the Free Practice Only will be valid to the end of the year of issue.

            1. @tonyyeb

              I don’t understand how that would keep Mick Schumacher from applying for and being granted a super license.

              It’s just a clause clarifying that any super license is only valid for a maximum of one year, and only during the calendar year it was issued.

            2. @proesterchen, like yourself, I would have thought that, once he had obtained a Super Licence for the first time, he would then be eligible to renew that Super Licence under 5.1.6b (where a driver has “been granted a Super Licence (excluding Free Practice Only Super Licence) in any of the previous 3 seasons”).

    3. But is that not exactly what they wanted. Gaining experience and racing in a more difficult series as a step to f1.

    4. I am curious how he will fare in 2019. I wish him all the best but his renaissance in 2018 remains remarkable. If you’d asked me around the summer in 2018 if Schumacher is F1-material, I would have said he showed too little to prove that. I’m not suggesting foul play, but I’m not certain if he can keep delivering.

      1. Prema are an unstoppable force in the junior categories, they win pretty much every series they enter, including every F3 Drivers Championship for the last 6 years bar one. If you get to wander through the GP2 or F3 paddock you are given hints as to why, they have the biggest motorhome, the most mechanics, the best equipment, and, with Stroll Sr on board, likely the biggest budget. Frankly it would have been embarrassing had Schumacher not won last year.

        1. Really?
          Wow you know a lot.
          Last year Prema team was in 5th place
          Year before were on 2nd place.
          He will have to prove himself for sure.
          And not that team wins everything

      2. No, you’re not suggesting foul play, and nor were his fellow drivers as his end of season speed was a thing to behold. I’m not suggesting it either, the car was so much quicker it was like a miracle. But just to repeat its completely normal a car finds a second a lap in the last few races. Nothing to see here.

        1. I can’t help but wonder whether Ticktum’s complaints were more about his own frustrations at what seems to have been a downturn in form in recent months.

          In the final two rounds of the season, Ticktum wasn’t even the best performing driver within his own team – Juri Vips was the higher scoring driver (Ticktum scored 44 points to Vips’s 66 points), and given that Vips was able to win a race with the same car that Ticktum had at his disposal, it suggests that the team were certainly capable of providing Ticktum with the tools he needed to win a race.

          Equally, the way that he has been behaving in the Asian Formula 3 series has not exactly shown him in a great light either. He’s only racing in that series because it was thought to be an easy way for him to gain superlicence points, and he seems to have gone into the races with the attitude that he was entitled to win and that the races would be a formality for him.

          Instead, the general perception is that, even allowing for a few problems, he’s underperformed in that series and made some rather clumsy mistakes – for example, in the second round at Sepang, he was caught overtaking another driver during a safety car period, which is a fairly major indiscretion. It’s lead to the supreme irony that Ticktum is now finding himself being beaten by another Schumacher, as David Schumacher – Ralf’s son – is also competing in that series and is one place ahead of Ticktum (David’s in 7th, as opposed to 8th for Ticktum).

          To add insult to injury, the FIA have now indicated that, as the series does not meet the minimum requirements, the drivers in that series will not receive superlicence points – leading Ticktum to suggest he might now walk out of the series, though frankly his poor form and the points gap to 3rd in the championship suggested that he wasn’t going to get the points he wanted to score anyway.

          The way that he has behaved in the Asian Formula 3 series, though, does suggest to me that Ticktum seems to act as if he believes he has an automatic right to success and, when that expected success does not happen, he does not question whether the fault may lie with his performance, but instead seeks to externalise the problem by suggesting that something must be afoot elsewhere.

          1. To be fair it was David Schumacher first races in a F3 car (he did a weekend on euroformula open too).

            I don’t see anything remarkable in Ticktun career. His first Macau win was gifted in that last lap crash. In his second attempt, he had more experience than most of the competition.

          2. Ticktum is now finding himself being beaten by another Schumacher

            Reminds me of this cartoon

    5. Too much attention to the name recently. There is a good dozen of far faster drivers in young series.

    6. Sorry, this entire article has no basis in fact.

      Mick Schumacher is currently eligible for a super license, and given that he’ll be partaking in at least two rookie test days this year, I’m certain he has already or will in due course apply for a super license.

      Once the super license has been granted, any future renewal will be subject to Article 5.1.6 of Appendix L to the FIA sporting code which reads:

      The driver must also satisfy at least one of the following requirements:
      a) Have accumulated at least 40 points during the three-year period preceding his application (Championships and points listed in Supplement 1).
      b) Have been granted a Super Licence (excluding Free Practice Only Super Licence) in any of the previous 3 seasons.
      c) Have been granted a Super Licence prior to the previous 3 seasons (excluding Free Practice Only Super Licence). In this case, the driver must be judged by the FIA to have recently and consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars. The F1 Team concerned must show that the applicant has driven at least 300 km in a representative Formula One car [1] consistently at racing speeds, over a maximum period of two days and completed not more than 180 days prior to the application, either certified by the ASN of the country in which the test took place or during an event counting towards the FIA Formula One World Championship for Drivers.
      (1)TCC or TPC as defined in the F1 Sporting Regulations

      https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/appendix_l_2019_clean_published_on_20_december_2018.pdf

      (b) is instructive in the aforementioned case, hence all previous super license points become irrelevant the moment Mick Schumacher has been granted his initial super license for 2019.

      1. Looking forward to hearing @keithcollantine ‘s response on this….

      2. @proesterchen “he’ll be partaking in at least two rookie test days”

        That hasn’t been confirmed and it doesn’t require a superlicence.

        Clause (b) is an interesting grey area though – I’ll have a look.

        1. Agreed, I should have used the ‘reportedly’ qualifier.

        2. @keithcollantine Nicholas Latifi is also an interesting case, being a reserve driver for Williams in 2019 and Force India in 2018. As far as I know he never had enough points to qualify for a super license.

    7. “One of his recent predecessors as F3 champion, Lance Stroll, jumped at his first opportunity to graduate to F1 as soon as he was able to. But rather than follow the 2016 champion’s route, Schumacher is instead adopting the example of Stroll’s successor Lando Norris, and headed for Formula Two instead.”

      Well, Mick’s dad didn’t buy him a seat to begin with.

      1. @ho3n3r, that’s a little unfair. I can’t imagine Mick has struggled to find funding, can you?

        1. He may be struggling with his dad’s inabilty to buy him a drive though

          1. Honestly, we really don’t know that do, we @mrboerns? It might well be that Michael is capable of answering the question whether he will do so. Surely he would have the means to do so. They would just have a friend/relative etc (Jean Todt for example, but many others) be the middle man.

            Or he could just ask his mother.

            But I don’t think he should need that – he is in Europe, his name with solid talent opens doors already (Mercedes getting him in the paddock, now Ferrari was able to sign him, Dekra already sponsors him).

    8. Ok. We may had to take a look on Stroll force in junior categories. Anybody had the number how many junior drivers getting super license with Stroll’s team? Did Prema unfairly too strong financially or did they just do it better?

      Stroll Force Racing Point could be the biggest F1 talent pool if they start to asking for a contract to every talented juniors who wish to join them in the next few years.

      1. @ruliemaulana, Maximilian Günther could have applied for a superlience in 2018, as he had 45 points (having finished 2nd in 2016 and 3rd in 2017 in the European F3 series).

        In fact, under the current system, as the winning driver in the European F3 series has come from Prema from 2012 to 2016, and again in 2018 (only in 2017 did they lose out to Norris at Carlin), they would have had at least one driver from their team becoming eligible to apply for a superlicence every year for the past six years (as, even though they did not win the title in 2017, Günther became eligible at the end of the year as his cumulative results from 2016 and 2017 were enough to take him over the 40 point threshold).

    9. Points-Dodger 🤣

    10. If Mick can’t get 6th against that competition, then he’s got no business being in Formula 1 anyway.

    11. I’m not sure the plan is for Mick to do F1 in 2020, unless there’s a big surprise further up the chain. Antonio Giovanazzi is probably not going to finish his “studies” in Sauber in 2019, given that Charles Leclerc only barely managed to get promoted after one year, and Haas appears determined to preserve full independence in its driver decisions (thus cannot be depended on for a “stepping stone” position). So even if Mick was ready at the end of 2020, there wouldn’t be anywhere for him to go – except to join Antonio Fuoco as a consultant to the program.

      More likely, the plan is for two years, get some points next year and take the title in 2010 – ready to walk into 2021 F1 with being a champion.

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