Fighting to keep his job at the pinnacle of motorsport, the son of the legendary, seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher scored his first ever points for the only American team on the F1 grid after finishing eighth in Sunday’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Mick Schumacher’s P8 finish earned four points for Haas – which is headquartered in North Carolina – the day before the US celebrates Monday’s Independence Day holiday.
In scenes perhaps no one except his closest loved ones dared to imagine before the race, during the final laps, the Swiss-born German nearly got in front of Max Verstappen, the reigning title holder and current championship leader whose Red Bull car had mechanical issues that forced him to settle for seventh place.
Schumacher in an interview afterward even accused Verstappen of pushing him off the track twice and said his points haul could increase if the race stewards had a look at their duel.
“For me, I think it’s great to just get those questions from the media away and focus on what’s really important,” Schumacher added. “And that’s the racing and the driving.
Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel, the German who won four championships for Red Bull from 2010 to 2013 and was close friends with Schumacher’s father, went on camera after the race and said he was shouting from inside his car when he saw Mick almost lunge past Verstappen.
“I was actually screaming inside the car like, ‘Go Mick – go get him!’” Vettel said, as the 23-year-old Schumacher laughed next to him. “I’m very happy for him – I think it’s been a long time that he deserves the result, and it’s great to get it.”
Schumacher before Sunday had failed to score any points in his first 29 races in F1, all with Haas. This season, he was at the center of crashes at the races in Monaco and Saudi Arabia that forced Haas to spring for costly repairs, significantly eating away at the team’s budget.
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner at one point said of Schumacher: “It’s just not possible to continue like this.” The remark caused pundits to question whether Schumacher’s career was in jeopardy, especially because he was being badly outperformed by teammate Kevin Magnussen, who has scored 16 points this season.
But on Sunday, after a race that saw six drivers retire early, Schumacher finished two places ahead of Magnussen. He started in 19th – second-to-last – place.
The result left Haas in eighth place in the 10-team constructors’ championship and Schumacher ahead of three drivers in the individual standings, which on Sunday represented at least a reprieve for him.
Schumacher was five when his dad won his final championship in F1 in 2004. Only Lewis Hamilton – who finished third Sunday for Mercedes behind Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez – has won as many driver’s titles as the elder Schumacher.
Michael Schumacher has been out of the public eye since he suffered a severe brain injury while skiing in December 2013.