Race of Champions: Mick Schumacher finishes P2 in Champion of Champions

Henry Valantine
Mick Schumacher at the Race of Champions. Sweden January 2023.Mick Schumacher at the Race of Champions. Sweden January 2023.

Mick Schumacher stands with Sebastian Vettel at the Race of Champions. Sweden January 2023.

After the Race of Champions Nations Cup, Mick Schumacher finished runner-up in the individual Champion of Champions event on Sunday.

Schumacher fought hard to make his way through to the final, beating friend and four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel on the way to the final, but he was eventually beaten in the final by rallycross driver Mattias Ekstrom – who took his fourth Champion of Champions crown.

After the father/son duo of Team Norway of Petter and Oliver Solberg took top honours on Saturday, one side of the draw was split between circuit racers and the other for off-roaders on the snow and ice circuit in Pite Havsbad in Sweden, before the drivers separated into making it every person for themselves in the quest for individual glory.

Schumacher made it through the first preliminary round by beating Arrow McLaren IndyCar driver and home favourite Felix Rosenqvist, but after winning his first heat against Adrien Tambay, two-time Champion of Champions David Coulthard spun in his second heat and eventually lost out at the first stage.

Coulthard’s former McLaren team-mate, two-time World Champion Mika Hakkinen was also knocked out at the last 16 stage after defeat in both heats by 2022 Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich, making his Race of Champions debut this weekend.

Valtteri Bottas got a five-second penalty for a jump start against Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen, but clawed back three seconds in his first heat as he looked for a way through to the quarter-finals.

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Vettel was up against three-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick, narrowly beating her in both heats as he made his way through to the last eight.

Bottas was left with an uphill task to make it through, but Kristensen nudged clear in their second heat as well, beating him by under two tenths as the Dane booked a quarter-final place against Vettel, while Schumacher and Drugovich would face off in the other quarter-final in the circuit racers’ half of the draw.

And it was the new Mercedes reserve driver which took a hefty advantage from their first heat, winning by a whopping 3.8 seconds as the German looked in impressive form. He survived a scare right at the last moment, however, running off-track after the final jump, but he was just about able to recover with enough time in hand in their second heat to maintain enough of an advantage to move into the semis.

A battle of two titans between Vettel and Kristensen saw the four-time Formula 1 World Champion come out on top in their first heat too, though only by three tenths of a second.

His second heat was more comfortable however, setting up a Vettel-Schumacher semi-final.

A big impact from Vettel in the first heat sent him onto the wrong side of the track on his second lap, leaving him needing to go through the snow barrier to get back on track, giving Schumacher a huge 10-second lead – though he had been in the net lead at the halfway point regardless.

The former Haas driver did what he needed to do by keeping it on the track in the second round, and he still took the win on merit – nudging Vettel into second by four tenths as he booked his place in the final, against current rallycross driver and three-time Race of Champions winner Ekstrom.

Only three tenths separated them in the first of the best-of-three final, with the experienced Ekstrom just about coming out on top on the snow and ice circuit.

But while Ekstrom appeared to be suffering with overheating in his car with an apparent fire around the transmission, he was able to take an unassailable 2-0 lead and win his fourth Race of Champions, Champion of Champions title.