Mick Schumacher said his postponed first official practice run in a Formula 1 car gave him a valuable opportunity to experiment with driving techniques.
The Formula 2 champion was supposed to make his debut in a practice session at the Eifel Grand Prix in October with Alfa Romeo. However he was unable to participate as poor visibility conditions meant the medical helicopter could not fly, and the sessions were not started.
Two months later, Schumacher finally took part in his first practice session today with Haas, the team he will race for in the 2021 F1 season.
“Everything went well,” declared Schumacher after finishing his hour-and-a-half of running in 18th place. “I’m really happy about how the session went. No major issues on either side so I’m really happy.”
He drove Kevin Magnussen’s car in the first practice session but the team is yet to decide which of its engineering crews will work with each of its two new drivers for the 2021 F1 season. Schumacher’s team mate will be his Formula 2 rival Nikita Mazepin.
Schumacher said he was “quite direct” in his feedback to the team. “I might not have experience in an F1 car as much as some other people do,” he admitted. “Nevertheless I’ve been told it’s good to give good feedback on anything I do notice. So from that part I think everything went well. It was a hell of a ride, it was really fun and great to be back in a Formula 1 car.”
Schumacher had his first experiences of practice starts and race simulation runs during the session.
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“The high-fuel run was quite different to everything I have done before,” he explained. “Up to now I’ve only driven an F1 car on low fuel. So it definitely was valuable information, the time in the car, trying to feel how much can I brake at the same spot, how much can I still push on those soft tyres too.
“The practice start [also] went really well for what was my first actual practice start in an F1 car. So I’m definitely very happy.”
He owned up to a few minor mistakes as he experimented with different driving techniques. “Obviously you have to sometimes go over the limit to feel where the limit is,” said Schumacher. “To me, it was more about trying little things.”
He said he had “a small moment at turn one after pushing on the softs” but “it wasn’t too dramatic”.
“It was just really trying to see what the car could still do. And then other moments were just me trying some different features on driving style but also on the car itself.
“I’m sure that I’ll find my way through much, much easier and also be able to maybe go more over the limit to try and find it [better] in the junior drive on Tuesday.”
2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
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