Mick Schumacher endured an up-and-down sixth round of the season, with a frustrating Feature Race sandwiched between two of his best drives in the category so far. The German’s race weekend was very much capped off on a high, after he completed a remarkable rise from 18th to 4th in the Austrian Sprint Race, only just missing out on a spot on the podium.
In doing so, the German deservedly achieved his best finish in F2 and accomplished a turn-around that very few would have deemed possible, including himself. The PREMA Racing man unsurprisingly hailed the drive as his “best race” in the championship so far, a stark contrast to a frustrating Feature Race, when technical issues saw him fail to get off the line at the start.
His speed over the weekend was never in doubt, having grasped an impressive P7 qualifying place, but Schumacher admitted that the possibility of rising as far as he did from the back of the field seemed unlikely.
“My realistic hopes were to finish in the top eight and to score a point,” he began. “So, I think that we have managed to, not exceed our potential, but managed to accomplish something greater than what we thought would be possible.
“I think that we can be very happy about the end result. Even though maybe we were very close to being on the podium, which I think would have been possible. The speed was there to be on both podiums, had the first race worked out the way we wanted it to. Then, we would have been able to start in a greater and more forward position for Race 2.
“It was my best race in F2 so far, I would say. I think that we had a very difficult weekend, and for sure, I can say that we finished it on a high. I think that was very positive and we can be happy about the result we finished in, and also, proving what we have done with the whole team and with the car.”
The Ferrari junior had delivered a strong qualifying session and knew that he had a pace advantage over many of those around him. His first tour of the Red Bull Ring proved pivotal, because failure to gain places could have seen him bunched up at the back.
The German climbed an impressive seven positions within that first lap and propelled himself into points contention. His PREMA arrived in the top eight with plenty of time to spare, but he knew that things would get trickier from here.
“I think that most of the positions that we gained were at the beginning and towards the end,” he explained. “I suppose that’s always quite normal. We actually did the climb from P17, because one car stalled on the grid.
“We went from P17 to P11 in the first lap, which was the main part of the work through, so I think that was very positive and that was needed. For me, I think that was one of the key moments of the race.
“Then, taking into consideration the other overtakes, I think in general, every overtake is very special and unique, so I can't really say that there was one that I enjoyed the most. What was nice for sure was that we had some very good battles.
“I think that for me, the most exciting part was going through and seeing that we had the speed and the potential of the car that was supporting me, going through the whole race.”
Schumacher came within an inch of overtaking Nyck De Vries for what would have been his first podium in F2, but with just a lap to make the move on the Championship leader, he didn’t quite have the time to pull it off.
On that final battle, he concluded: “We were very close to being able to finish on the podium and I think that the potential was there to finish in the top 3. Unfortunately, we missed out on the last DRS zone, from Turn 3 to Turn 4. I overshot the protection zone and therefore, it obviously made it a bit harder.
“I think that if I had had the DRS, then probably, I would have been able to just position my car in front of Nyck De Vries and maybe we would have been able to get in front of him coming into Turn 4. But yeah, for sure the potential was there for the top step, so I think that is really positive.”
The PREMA rookie is currently 13th in the standings on 22 points and will be eager to ensure his positive showing in Spielberg is a springboard for more consistent success as the season progresses.