Stooped by the side of his car in parc ferme, Mick Schumacher drew his hand through his open visor, struggling to fight back the welling tears. A frantic final round of the FIA Formula 2 season on the Bahrain outer loop had begun with him qualifying a lowly 18th, before he fought back to sixth in the feature race. Then he'd locked up on the first lap of the sprint race and was forced to pit due to the resulting flat-spot. But he'd held on to be crowned champion.
It was not a title success that clinched him a graduation to Formula 1 for 2021, for that had already been agreed weeks earlier and announced by Haas three days before his coronation. But for Schumacher, it was a statement. For all of the weight of expectation faced as the son of a seven-time F1 world champion, he had made his mark all by himself against a fiercely competitive F2 field.
"If you bring a championship title on your CV into F1, it's always great," he says. "I have one in F3 and have one in F2. To be able to win those championships with great competition, it's been a great challenge. The better the competition, the more you develop as a driver."