In a move that has surprised some people in the world of motorsport racing, the son of legendary Formula One driver Michael Schumacher, who is still recovering from severe head injuries from a skiing accident, has decided to sign up to drive in Formula 4.
According to Daniel Johnson of The Telegraph, Schumacher's 15-year-old son, Mick Schumacher, finished in second place in the world, European and German kart championships last season. He has signed on with Van Amersfoort Racing.
"We have watched his skills in test driving and are looking forward to a successful season," Frits Van Amersfoort, the Dutch team's owner, said.
Johnson reported that Schumacher's son previously competed under different names in an attempt to deflect attention. He used the names "Mick Junior" and "Mick Betsch," the maiden name of his mother, Corinna, to stay under the radar.
Van Amersfoort talked to the Associated Press about the challenges of Formula 4, which is aimed at young drivers with a background in karting.
"In the last couple of years, it has become a tradition for us that we offer the runner-up from the German junior karting championship a test session in our simulator," Van Amersfoort said.
Van Amersfoort elaborated on how he first met Schumacher's son and why he decided to sign him on his team.
"This is handled by the DMSB, the German motor sport authority, and that is how we first got in touch with Mick Schumacher last autumn," Van Amersfoort said. "He spent a full day in the simulator at our headquarters in The Netherlands. Then we witnessed him during a test session at Valencia [in Spain] and eventually, we reached an agreement to compete together in this year's ADAC Formula 4 series."
The Associated Press reported that Mick will make his debut for Van Amersfoort Racing in Oschersleben, Germany, on April 25 and 26. He will be 16 years old when that happens.
As for the health status of his father, who is considered the most successful Formula One driver in history and has shattered many records in motorsport, there have been scant official updates from either his family or anyone connected to him according to Johnson. Schumacher had two brain operations after a ski accident left him with severe brain injuries.
"Considering the severe head injuries he suffered, progress has been made in the past weeks and months," Schumacher's manager, Sabine Kehm, said back in September. "There is still, however, a long and difficult road ahead."
However, according to another report from the Associated Press, former Formula One driver Philippe Streiff claimed to French media that 46-year-old Schumacher "has yet to recover the power of speech." He contended that the legendary race car driver is "nevertheless starting to recognize those close to him."
However, Kehm disputed the comments to the Associated Press, adding that Strieff was not a family friend as initially claimed. Kehm did note that Schumacher still faced a "long fight" for recovery.
"We need a long time," Kehm said. "He is making progress appropriate to the severity of the situation."