Damon Hill has warned of “the blessing and the curse” that the carrying of a famous racing name can bring in Formula 1 following Mick Schumacher’s confirmed arrival in 2021.
The son of the seven-time World Champion, Michael, will be driving for Haas next season as part of an all-rookie line-up with Nikita Mazepin.
And Hill is glad to see that Mick has continued to progress up the ranks and all the way to the very top based more on merit rather than just name alone.
“There is a sense that some people don’t want you to have a go,” Hill told The Guardian.
“I felt like some people felt: ‘Why is he doing this? He is never going to be as good as his dad.’
“It does not necessarily follow that because your dad was a world champion that you will be any good, but that should not prevent you from a having a go. You should be able to have a go if you merit it, and F1 will find a way to see if you merit it.
“In a way it’s very simple: if you perform well, then all those problems melt away.
“I will be keen to see how he gets on. Everyone has been massively affected and appreciates the pain that the Schumacher family have gone through. They wish Mick well, they really do.”
— Mick Schumacher (@SchumacherMick) December 2, 2020
Hill is also very impressed with how Mick Schumacher has coped with his father’s accident and thinks it will act as some form of motivation for when he does embark on his Formula 1 career.
“It really is tragic what happened to Michael,” Hill added.
“Mick has experienced something in his life which has been very tough to bear, and I am sure it is a little bit of extra motivation that he will have.
“I have been very impressed with how diplomatic he has been, and how he has asked people to be respectful of the privacy the Schumacher family has asked for.
“I think he has coped with that admirably, and that has given him the chance to focus on what he wants to do.
“But he doesn’t strike me as someone who is interested in getting publicity for himself. He wants to race and he wants to win.”
Damon Hill, of course, followed in the large footsteps left by his father, Graham, and Damon said that the family name was part of his motivation to succeed.
“I wanted to race, I loved racing, I loved competition and I loved the sport,” he said. “But I also was determined to not let the side down with being a Hill.
“Some element of it when my dad died was, if you like, resurrecting or honouring the family name. So I very much took lessons from my dad’s life and career and applied them to my racing.”
But not all drivers who carry on the family tradition in Formula 1 are the same, with Hill recalling that Jacques Villeneuve did not want to have such a strong link between himself and his father, Gilles.
Hill warned that carrying the family name can both be a blessing and a curse.
“Jacques was very different,” Hill stated.
“He never even talked about his dad; as far as he was concerned he was going to stand alone as Jacques, not as the son of Gilles. In some ways it is a blessing and in some ways a curse.”