Mattia Binotto expects Mick Schumacher to need a full year of Formula 1 under his belt before showing his true potential.
Schumacher, son of Michael, the seven-time former World Champion, steps up next year to join the Haas team after capturing the Formula 2 drivers’ title.
A Ferrari Academy driver, the 21-year-old German has shown throughout his career so far that despite being a relatively slow starter when he joins a new team or category, once he is fully up to speed he becomes a really formidable force.
And the same could happen again in F1, according to Ferrari team principal Binotto, as Schumacher begins in the elite series at a team who were among the backmarkers for the duration of 2020 with a car they were not developing.
“I think it will be very difficult for him at the start,” said Binotto during an end-of-season video media conference, quoted by Reuters.
“If I look at his past experience in both F2 and F3, normally he is delivering his best in the second season and not the first.
“I think Mick, the way he has developed himself, is learning a lot in the first season and becomes very strong in the second half of the second season. That’s why I think two seasons will be important for him.
“But already in the second, I’m expecting to see progress compared to the first one.”
The long-term plan, if all goes according to the script, would be for Schumacher to eventually drive for the team with which his father dominated F1 in the first five years of this century.
In the meantime, Ferrari have a comparatively young driver line-up in place for 2021 with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, 23 and 26 respectively, so a vacancy is unlikely any time soon barring unexpected circumstances or a lack of performance from either of that duo.
Binotto will monitor Schumacher’s progress during his time at Haas, where he will partner another rookie in Nikita Mazepin.
“I’m really expecting him to prove how fast he is in an F1 context, both in qualifying and the race, to prove he is very strong in race pace and consistent in terms of bringing the car home in a good position,” said Binotto, who confirmed some Ferrari stuff are joining their customer team Haas as a result of the budget cap being brought into the sport next year.