Mick Schumacher is a confident young man and certainly no stranger to the spotlight.
As Mercedes’ reserve driver for the 2023 F1 season, he conducts himself at PUMA’s 75th anniversary event in Bahrain with all the poise of a seasoned veteran.
But there’s one question that knocks him off balance, one that he can only meet with bewilderment.
‘What would you be if you weren’t a Formula 1 driver?’
It seems as if the very concept never even occurred to him. His green eyes begin to dart frantically from side to side as if contemplating an audacious double-overtake into Turn 1.
He hesitates before eventually blurting out: “Racing somewhere else.. I guess?”
‘What if you weren’t in motorsport at all?’
Another pause, before he can only joke: “Racing people on the streets, or whatever..?”
When you’re the son of F1 legend Michael Schumacher, it’s understandable if following his footsteps into the cockpit of the planet’s fastest race cars has always felt like your destiny.
An equally comprehensible course of action might be to steer away from the pressures and expectations that come with the weight of the Schumacher name and the staggering seven world championships attached to it.
But when racing is so deeply ingrained in your DNA that the very prospect of doing anything else is unfathomable, there was only one road Mick was ever going to take.
However, following his championship-winning success in both Formula 3 and Formula 2, his first foray into the pinnacle of motorsport with Haas F1 was something of a mixed bag.
He failed to register a point in his rookie season but consistently out-performed team-mate Nikita Mazepin.
And while he scored 12 points in his second campaign, including an impressive P6 in Austria, new team-mate Kevin Magnussen doubled that tally. A series of costly crashes also contributed to Haas deciding to replace him with returning veteran Nico Hulkenberg for the 2023 season.
However, Schumacher isn’t straying too far from the action and is looking forward to making a significant contribution to Mercedes’ efforts this year.
“Because I’ve raced last year’s car, I have a much better understanding of the tyre model and also the car model,” the German driver points out.
“So that’s something I can feedback right away into the simulator and draw that direct comparison.
“Hopefully, during the year I’ll be able to pick out some moments and help the drivers if I see something.”
The fact that he’s landed at Mercedes at this point in time feels serendipitous as well. Both him and the team are in the process of getting back on track.
With regard to that, Mercedes and the culture they’ve inculcated over the past decade that brought total dominance in the turbo-hybrid era, is perhaps exactly where Schumacher needs to be.
He recognises how the team stands apart with how they operate and has great respect for the kind of mentality that fuels their drive for success.
“I think the professional side definitely stands out. How they approach a race weekend but also just small things like media events is amazing.
“You really recognise why they’ve been able to get eight constructors championships in a row. That really shows the mentality and how they’re able to consistently put in the work and effort.”
Still only 23, Schumacher will have earned invaluable experience during a testing time at Haas and learned lessons that will no doubt hold him in good stead moving forward.
New opportunities will present themselves and Schumacher is determined to seize them wholeheartedly.
“My goal is to be back in a car as soon as I can and back on the grid.”
For someone so single-minded in their ambitions, that seems inevitable.
And, as has been well-established, there’s literally nothing else he’d rather do.
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