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Macau Grand Prix

Mick Schumacher endures more hairy moments in Macau Grand Prix, but it’s all part of the learning curve

The 18-year-old son of Formula One legend Michael Schumacher continues to get to grips with tricky Guia Circuit after a wheel lock in qualifying forces him off track

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 November, 2017, 11:44am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 November, 2017, 10:14pm

Mick Schumacher’s exterior remains calm but the eyes are a giveaway as they dart all around the pit area.

The 18-year-old German is less taking everything in on his first trip to the Suncity Group Formula Three Macau Grand Prix – FIA F3 World Cup and more soaking up every single moment of this unique experience.

And our eyes have followed the young man’s every movement too.

Macau Grand Prix 2017: watch live coverage of day three from the Guia Circuit

Schumacher has brought his famous name to Macau – his father Michael won here in 1990 on the way claiming seven Formula One world titles; uncle Ralph won in 1995 before winning six Formula One Grands Prix – and he has been trying to quietly go about his business, despite the interest that will always follow him around.

“I had heard a lot of stories about [Macau] before,” said Schumacher. “It’s a very good experience and that’s what we’re looking for, to just develop as a driver. I have to say I feel very comfortable in the car here which I didn’t think I would.

“It’s been a fantastic experience. Maybe I have a new favourite track. It’s been very exciting, and very new for me, getting so close to the walls.”

Schumacher has quickly pretty much learned all a young driver needs to know about the tricky Guia circuit, coming to grief in quite spectacular fashion at Policemen’s Bend in early qualifying before settling his nerves and climbing through the field over the session that followed.

Then came Saturday’s qualifying, a wheel lock after going toe-to-toe with Ferdinand Habsburg (Carlin) in the early laps, which forced him off track down an escape road, and then a return to the fray with the whole field in front of him.

Well, he did say he’d came to Macau to learn.

Schumacher is this week part of the four-strong SJM Theodore Racing by Prema team that has been showing fans a glimpse of the near future of motorsport.

The 20-year-old Maximilian Gunther and 19-year-old Callum Ilott were third and fourth in this season’s European Formula Three Championship, respectively, and 18-year-old Zhou Guanyu (eighth in that series) is widely seen as China’s great hope in the sport.

Schumacher has come here off his first season in that hotly-contested European series. He finished 12th, with a third in Monza the highlight, and was the third-ranked rookie behind series winner Norris.

“We’ve learned a lot,” Schumacher said of the past 12 months with the team. “That’s what we were really looking out for, to learn as much as possible and to develop as a driver that much more. And that was the case.

“We had highs and we had lows and that’s what you really need.”

While Schumacher struggled, British driver Illot was Theodore’s – and Macau’s – undisputed star on Saturday with a breathtaking win in qualifying to grab pole for Sunday’s main event, a breath under eight seconds in front of Sweden’s Joel Eriksson (Motorpark with VEB) and Brazilian Sergio Sette Camara (Motorpark with VEB).

Illot admitted to being taken aback by the attention that has swarmed around Theodore this weekend. Not that he’s saying it’s all bad.

“We’ve been with each other all year and we’ve got a lot of support this weekend,” Illott said of his team.

“It’s been a weird weekend for me, quite unnatural for me because of the media exposure we’ve had. But it’s been good fun. I dunno – I quite like it.

“Going into that [qualifying race] I was quite nervous. I’ve tried a different approach this year, taking no risks at the beginning.

“So it was quite a good race. I am starting at the front of the grid and I have to happy with that.”