Mick Schumacher, the son of seven-time world champion Michael, has taken another major step towards Formula One after signing for the Ferrari academy.
The new role means Schumacher, who this season will contest the Formula Two series – the feeder series to F1 – is likely to test a Ferrari F1 car later this year.
Mercedes expressed their interest in the 19-year-old, but it is Ferrari – for whom Michael won five world championships with at the turn of the century – that have won the race.
“I am thrilled that Ferrari has entered a partnership with me and my next future in motor sport will be in red, being part of the Ferrari Driver Academy and also of the Ferrari family,” Schumacher said.
“It is more than obvious that Ferrari has a big place in my heart since I was born and also in the hearts of our family, so I am delighted on a personal level about this opportunity as well.
“Again, this is another step forward in the right direction, and I can only profit from the immense amount of expertise bundled there. Be sure I will make everything to extract whatever helps me achieve my dream, racing in Formula One.”
Schumacher impressed by winning eight times en route to clinching the Formula Three championship with a race to spare last year.
He is competing alongside Sebastian Vettel for Germany at the Race of Champions in Mexico this weekend.
Mattia Binotto, the new team principal for the Italian team, said: “For someone like me who has known him from birth, there’s no doubt that welcoming Mick into Ferrari has a special emotional meaning, but we have chosen him for his talent and the human and professional qualities that have already distinguished him despite his young age.”
Schumacher Jnr was skiing in the French Alps with his father when he fell in 2013. Michael Schumacher, who won a record 91 grands prix and recently turned 50, is understood to be receiving round-the-clock care at his home in Switzerland, but no information has been made public about his medical condition.
Provided by Press Association Sport
Michael Schumacher‘s family issued a rare public statement around his medical condition on the eve of his 50th birthday, stating that they are “doing everything humanly possible” to help the seven-time Formula One world champion.
Schumacher turns 50 on January 3, but the most decorated star in F1 history has not been seen in public since he fell and hit his head in a skiing accident on the French Alps five years ago.
He is understood to be receiving medical care at the family home near Lake Geneva in Switzerland, but updates regarding his health have been few and far between.
The wall of secrecy, enforced at the request of his wife Corinna, was established to protect one of the biggest names in modern sporting times.
But the sporadic offerings about a driver who won a record seven world championships, 91 grands prix, and commanded a following of millions around the world, have led some to ponder whether more details should be made public.
The family seemingly obliged by releasing a statement on January 2, although any medical information was again kept from the public.
“You can be sure that he is in the very best of hands and that we are doing everything humanly possible to help him,” it read.
“Please understand if we are following Michael’s wishes and keeping such a sensitive subject as health, as it has always been, in privacy.
“At the same time we say thank you very much for your friendship and wish you a healthy and happy year 2019.”
43 years old Michael Schumacher took the pole position in Monaco 2012. He knew he would never start on pole due to grid penalty, Still, he gave his 100% and took the pole position.— Eau rouge (@Insidef1) December 29, 2018
5 years ago, Schumacher had his life-changing skiing accident.#KeepFightingMichael #F1 pic.twitter.com/DERiQZ6w0J
Ross Brawn, one of only a handful of people to have visited the stricken driver, believes Schumacher’s family are right to conceal his medical condition.
Schumacher’s former manager, Willi Weber said in 2017: “I find it very unfortunate that Michael’s fans do not know about his health. Why are they not being told the truth?”
Yet Brawn, who helped mastermind Schumacher’s success at Benetton and Ferrari, and has visited the former champion in Switzerland, does not concur.
“I am constantly in touch with Corinna, and I totally agree with their decision,” he told Press Association Sport.
“Michael has always been a very private person and that’s been a guiding principle in his career, his life and his family always agreed with that choice.
“It’s completely understandable that Corinna has wanted to maintain the same approach, even after the tragic event, and it’s a decision we must all respect. I’m sure the millions of people who are still Michael fans will understand it, too.”
On Thursday, Ferrari will celebrate the German’s birthday by launching a special exhibition at their Maranello headquarters in northern Italy.
The display, which runs in association with the Keep Fighting Foundation – of which Brawn and FIA president Jean Todt are both trustees – will honour Schumacher’s remarkable success with the Italian team.
Schumacher added to the two titles he won at Benetton with five triumphs for the Prancing Horse at the turn of the century, posting a series of records many viewed as untouchable.
But after surpassing Schumacher’s pole position tally in 2017, Lewis Hamilton is now only 18 wins and two championships away.
“Lewis is certainly capable of matching and surpassing Michael’s other records,” added Brawn, now acting as the head of motorsport for F1.
“There’s no doubt that Lewis and Michael are amazingly talented. In fact, it’s their natural talent that unites them. The way in which they achieved their wins is where they differ.
“Michael treated his driving career as though it was a mission to which he dedicated himself completely from the first to the last day. In some ways, Lewis has taken longer to find his way, and today it seems he has found that way more from outside the sport than from inside it.”
Remarkably, the Schumacher name could be back on the grid in 2020, with Ferrari and Mercedes both keeping tabs on Mick Schumacher.
Schumacher Jnr, the 19-year-old son of Michael, will compete in Formula Two this year after winning the F3 title in 2018.
“Carrying that name weighs heavily but Mick manages it with great care and intelligence,” said Brawn.
Alexander Albon is to drive for Toro Rosso alongside Daniil Kvyat in the 2019 Formula One season.
The 22-year-old British-born driver has been paired with the Russian in Red Bull’s feeder team after an impressive season in F2.
Albon finished third in the F1 feeder championship despite being involved in a start-line collision at the final round in Abu Dhabi.
Albon, who won four races in F2 this year, began his career in karts and joined the Red Bull programme in 2012 before being released at the end of the season. In 2016 he finished second in the GP3 series before stepping up to F2.
Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said: “Alexander had an impressive Formula Two season in 2018. The way he is able to overtake many of his rivals in the races shows that he is ready and matured to race in Formula One.
“Scuderia Toro Rosso is very much looking forward to 2019, as with Daniil and Alex we have two young, very strong and competitive drivers.”
Albon said: “It’s such an amazing feeling to know that I’m in Formula 1 next year. Throughout my single-seater career, I went through a few ups and downs. I was dropped by Red Bull in 2012, so from then I knew my road to Formula One was going to be a lot harder.
“I worked really hard and tried to impress every time I got in the car, and I have to say a big thank you to Red Bull and Dr (Helmut) Marko for believing in me and giving me a second chance. I’ve always been motorsport mad and since I first got in a car it’s been my dream to be in Formula One. To be given this opportunity is just incredible.”