Sebastian Vettel says he sees himself as “more a friend” to Mick Schumacher, even though he appears to have acted as his Formula 1 mentor.
The two Germans have formed a close bond, one that has been valued highly by Schumacher because his father Michael, the seven-time former World Champion, is unable to attend races.
Schumacher junior recently spoke of how Vettel has been helping him avoid “mistakes” of a political nature in the F1 paddock, which it was put to him during an interview can be something of a “shark tank”.
However, the four-time former World Champion prefers not to see his relationship with the 22-year-old as being too paternal, instead regarding him as a mate – although not one he has a competitive rivalry with.
Asked during an interview with F1-Insider whether he feels any responsibility towards the Haas driver, Vettel, for whom Schumacher’s father was a childhood hero, replied: “Not really. Of course, the bond is there through Michael.
“But Mick comes from a very good family. He’s a very sensible, well-mannered young man who is now ready to go his own way. He’s doing that very well.
“His work ethic reminds me of his father. I sincerely wish him a car with which he can make more of a mark next year.
“But I am more a friend than someone who feels responsibility. You are always there for friends. That’s why I have zero competitive thoughts towards him and I am happy to pass on my experience.”
Vettel indicated the approach he described also extended to his team-mates and at his current squad, Aston Martin, he has a colleague in Lance Stroll who is less than 18 months older than Schumacher, and therefore 11 years younger than himself.
“I’m not the type who weighs everything up in a paranoid way anyway, in order to have my own advantages and play games,” added Vettel. “It also doesn’t make sense to me to withhold certain things from team-mates.
“I rather see the big picture, that we want to progress as a team. Today we are able to see everything transparently through data anyway.”
Schumacher is a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy and even though Vettel was unable to become World Champion there, he would certainly not dissuade his young compatriot from taking a race seat with the Scuderia if and when one becomes available.
“I still had some good years and the brand will always be something special,” said Vettel.
“In any case, I wouldn’t advise him against it because of the few things that didn’t work out so well for me.
“People tend to always see the glass half empty in memories. I prefer to see it half full and the positive outweighs the negative.”