Motor racing: Mick Jr keeps Schumacher flag flying


Caption   Mick Jnr, son of Germany's seven-time Formula One world champion, finished his debut Formula Four season tenth overall on Oct 4, 2015.
PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN (AFP) - The Schumacher name looks set to continue in motorsport after Mick Jr, the son of Germany's seven-time Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher, finished his debut Formula Four season 10th overall on Sunday (Oct 4).

"The season was fun," the 16-year-old told German broadcaster Sport1, "we'll have to see about next year."

His famous father enjoyed 91 wins and 155 podium finishes in his Formula One career; Mick Jr's introduction to motorsport was more modest.

Over the season's 24 races, at eight venues, Schumacher Jr made the podium twice for Dutch team Van Amersfoort Racing, but many of his rivals have a few years' experience at this level. Marvin Dienst, 18, won the series.

After the high of winning at Germany's Oschersleben track in the third race on the opening weekend in April - when he won the best rookie trophy - Schumacher Jr experienced a few setbacks.

He managed to finish third when the Formula Four series returned to Oschersleben in September and his highest finish in the three races at Hockenheim this weekend was fifth.

"He's made huge strides forwards," said Mr Frits van Amersfoort, Schumacher's team boss. "Mick was lucky with his first win. Then things went a bit downhill, but then he found his feet and things improved.

"Now we see that Mick is a strong player in the field."

Having graduated to Formula Four after a successful career as a Kart racer, Schumacher has got to grips with the faster car.

"The boys have grown up, just like the cars. It often happens with 16-year-olds, whether they are Mick Schumacher or anyone else," said Van Amersfoort.

Michael Schumacher first retired from Formula One in 2006, after winning five titles in succession for Ferrari from 2000-2004 and then returned for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons, but never finished higher than eighth overall.

As his father continues to recover from the serious head injury he suffered during a skiing accident in December 2013, Mick Jr has largely been shielded from the media's glare, thanks to Schumacher Sr's manager.

"I am very pleased with how the season went, the learning curve was very steep and it was clear things wouldn't continue as they had done in the first weekend," said Ms Sabine Kehm, Schumacher's manager.

"For his athletic and personal development, it was a good year. We'll now calmly look at how things will continue."

One future option open to Schumacher Jr is to graduate to Formula Three as Van Amersfoort compete in the higher class - one of the reasons the German teenager opted for the Dutch team. But the German teenager will need to live up to the family name with regular victories if his career is to progress.

"Experience is important, but you can only progress in motor racing, when you have success, because success speaks for itself," said Van Amersfoort.

However, Schumacher is likely to be snapped up by any motor racing team in Germany and is an asset to the Formula Four series, says the boss of the sport's main sponsor.

"He is well-known and has a big name, which will always have a significance in Germany," said Mr Herman Tomcyzk, president of the sports arm of Formula Four sponsors ADAC.