After spending most of his career in the shadows, Mick Schumacher now finds himself very much in the spotlight as he begins one of the biggest weeks of his life.

Tuesday’s news that Schumacher, the son of seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael, will make his F1 test debut for Ferrari in the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test, acts as a huge moment in the 20-year-old’s burgeoning career to date.

The German will be provided with his first taste of modern-day F1 machinery as he gets behind the wheel of Ferrari’s SF90 2019 challenger next Tuesday, before conducting the second day of running with Alfa Romeo on Wednesday.

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Schumacher’s F1 test bow will make his weekend particularly busy, with the reigning Formula 3 European champion also kicking off his maiden Formula 2 campaign with Prema at the opening round of the season in Bahrain.

Attentions will be drawn on his performances both in F2 and F1 testing - something Schumacher must now become accustomed to after previously keeping a somewhat low-key profile during his junior career. There is no longer any hiding place.

In having the most successful F1 driver of all-time as his father, it was a certainty that Schumacher would eventually find himself in the limelight, something which has been heightened thanks to his recent on-track achievements.

The Schumacher family has long made an effort to deliberately shield Mick from unnecessary attention when beginning racing, using his mother’s maiden name under the pseudonym ‘Mick Betsch’ and later competing as ‘Mick Junior’.

Following a successful period in karting, Schumacher made the move into car racing in 2015 and used his famous surname for the first time. Anticipation was high and a maiden race win soon followed.

2016 proved a breakthrough season for Schumacher, who joined leading single-seater outfit Prema and finished runner-up behind Joey Mawson and Marcos Siebert in the ADAC Formula 4 and Italian F4 championships, recording 10 wins across both series.

On the international scene, Schumacher endured a tricky and somewhat underwhelming rookie campaign in European F3 in 2017 as he remained with Prema, before sealing his first championship title the following year.

Schumacher recovered from a slow start to 2018 and claimed his first European F3 victory at Spa - the scene of his father’s maiden F1 win in 1992. That result propelled Schumacher onto a remarkable and decisive run of form that saw him win eight of the final 15 races, including five in a row, to blow away his highly-rated competition including Red Bull junior Dan Ticktum.

Now, Schumacher makes the step up to F2 with the Italian squad that has propelled Pierre Gasly and new Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc to title glory in the same championship in recent years.

Naturally, the weight of expectation is high for Schumacher’s first F2 campaign, especially since being signed to Ferrari’s esteemed Driver Academy during the winter, with a first F1 test during with the Scuderia only ramping up the pressure even more.

Speaking in the build up to opening round in Bahrain, Schumacher emitted a calm and level-headed swagger, having brushed aside suggestions that being constantly compared to his record-breaking father might have been a burden.

“Being compared to my father was never a problem for me,” Schumacher insisted. “It’s pretty simple, for me being compared to the best driver in F1 history is the goal you want to achieve.

“To have that as my idol, and my father, is something very special. I feel honoured to be compared to him, because I can just learn and try to improve.”

Providing he can retain it and let his on-track abilities do the talking, such an approach will serve him well as he ultimately looks to follow in his father’s footsteps by forging a successful F1 career with the team Schumacher Sr. claimed five of his seven titles with.

There is no doubt that F2 will provide Schumacher with his biggest test yet and it is important to note the great challenge he will encounter. He will go up against experienced series regulars such ART’s Nyck de Vries and McLaren development driver Sergio Sette Camara, as well as facing stiff competition from fellow rookie and Ferrari Academy member Callum Ilott.

A title push in his first season would be impressive, and if he were able to pull off the feats achieved by George Russell and Leclerc before him, he would certainly be making a case for landing an F1 drive in 2020. But it should not be considered a failure if he is not able to deliver a championship at the first time of asking.

Instant success could see Schumacher force himself into contention for a F1 seat with Alfa Romeo as early as 2020, but more realistically for 2021, which coincides with the expiry of Kimi Raikkonen’s contract at the team with the Finn turning 42. Unless Alfa Romeo suddenly turns into a race-winning squad, it is hard to see why Raikkonen would stick around any longer.

Ferrari has forged a close alliance with the rebranded Alfa Romeo squad in recent times and that has been reflected in the team handing a seat to Antonio Giovinazzi, another protege that further boasts the impressive talent pool of up-and-coming drivers at Maranello.

With the potential for a Sebastian Vettel-Leclerc partnership at Ferrari and pairing of Giovinazzi and Schumacher at Alfa Romeo, it would provide the Italian outfit with an array of strong driver options for the future. And that is a scenario that doesn’t even factor in Ilott, who will receive his F1 test debut with Alfa Romeo in Barcelona later this year.

Handing Schumacher a first outing reflects Ferrari’s new philosophy and approach towards young drivers, having made Leclerc the youngest driver to adorn the famous scarlet overalls for over half a century.

“We are firm believers in the value of the Ferrari Driver Academy as a high level training programme for talented youngsters and the decision to give Charles Leclerc a race seat with our team is proof of that,” said Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto.

“We are therefore very pleased to be able to give Mick and Callum the opportunity to experience driving a Formula 1 car.

“Mick, who joined the FDA in January, and Callum, who has been with us since 2017, are definitely drivers on their way up and I believe that driving the SF90 in an official setting such as the tests in Bahrain and Barcelona can be very useful at this stage in their careers.”

The next seven days will mark a significant step in Schumacher’s journey up the racing ladder and one that could reach even greater heights for a successful future.

While patience and caution are required, the time has finally come for Mick to take centre stage and make a name for himself.

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