Young Schumacher test for Ferrari

A story came full circle yesterday morning in Bahrain, when Mick Schumacher stepped into the cockpit of a Ferrari Formula One car 12 years and four months after his father Michael vacated one for the last time.

Two days of testing in Bahrain — one for Ferrari followed by one for the affiliated Alfa Romeo team — are the first steps in a plan aimed at establishing whether the son of the most successful grand prix driver in history has the talent to follow his father’s footsteps into F1.

Michael’s success and fame mean 20-year-old Mick will have to do this in a spotlight with which most aspiring F1 drivers do not have to contend.

But there is another dimension, too — Michael’s health following the skiing accident in 2013 which left him with severe brain injuries, since when he has not been seen in public.

The Schumacher family will not speak about Michael’s condition, believing that he would want it that way — he was always a very private man. But it is inevitably the elephant in the room in any interaction Mick has with the outside world, and particularly the media.

Holding his first news conference at a grand prix in Bahrain last weekend, there was a calm composure in the way Mick dealt with any questions relating to his father, however oblique.

What does he feel about all the extra attention he receives through being Michael’s son?

“It is a difficult question,” Mick says. “It is part of me. I am the son of my dad and I am happy that I am. What he has done is the best ever in F1. It is something I look up to and I am happy to have him as my dad.”

But it is something other drivers don’t have to face.

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