Ross Brawn thinks Mick Schumacher showed a real sign of his F1 potential by beating a rival car at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
F1’s motorsport managing director has known the 22-year-old German all his life, having worked closely with the Haas driver’s father, Michael, during their golden era together at Ferrari – and previously with Benetton.
Therefore, Brawn will be delighted to see Schumacher junior start to show what he can bring to Formula 1, even though this will be a difficult year for him in a car that even his team expect to be racing at the back all season.
But there may be a few moments to savour, such as when the reigning F2 champion passed Nicholas Latifi’s Williams at Portimao and held the position to the end, finishing 17th of the 19 still running. Schumacher’s team-mate, Nikita Mazepin, was last.
There have been precious few opportunities for Schumacher to shine in the first three races, but Brawn was pleased to see a glimpse of what the Ferrari Academy Driver can do.
“It’s clear the Haas is not one of the most competitive cars on the grid, so Mick Schumacher knew what he would be facing in his rookie season,” said Brawn in his regular post-race column for Formula 1.
“But you need to do what you can with what you have – and the little moments count, such as today, when he heaped the pressure on Nicholas Latifi and forced him into a mistake to take the position.
“This was certainly a good demonstration of his potential.”
Another driver from whom Brawn drew some encouragement was Fernando Alonso, who produced a typically swashbuckling display to work his way up to finish eighth from 13th on the grid.
The two-time former World Champion was at his strongest at the end of the race, passing the chequered flag just behind his Alpine team-mate, Esteban Ocon.
“It was exciting to watch Fernando Alonso surge through the field and get into the points,” said Brawn.
“When Alpine gave him a way back into the sport, they will have been banking on typically gritty performances like this where he gets everything out of the car.
“He was outshone by team-mate Esteban Ocon, who finished a place ahead, but it was evidence that Fernando is starting get comfortable with the car.
“And this result certainly felt like the first step towards a really strong comeback having spent the last two years away from F1.”