Even though he ultimately finished outside the points in the Hungarian Grand Prix, the crazy race in Budapest provided Mick Schumacher with a major opportunity to fight with experienced drivers – something the Haas rookie relished as he continues his F1 education in his first season in the sport.
The Hungaroring is notoriously difficult to overtake on, so when the field was mixed up by two crashes at Turn 1 on the opening lap, the race was blown wide open and Schumacher found himself in the top 10. Fighting to hold off Max Verstappen on the race restart, Schumacher kept the damaged Red Bull at bay for ten laps and took a lot of positives from being in a race with the championship contender.
“I wasn’t anticipating being able to hold him off for so long, but I’m glad that I was able to and able to get the opportunity to fight with the top guys,” Schumacher said. “I was fighting with Max twice on the road and was able to [increase] my experiences in that case, feel the pressure and not crack under pressure. So I think it was a really positive day for us.”
2021 Hungarian Grand Prix: Russell passes Schumacher with brilliant move at Turn 2
It wasn’t just Verstappen who Schumacher raced against, with Pierre Gasly and Lewis Hamilton clearing him more quickly but then George Russell having to fight hard against the Haas, in a showing that the German says will give his team confidence after his crash in qualifying.
“Of course, I think it gave everybody a bit of light at the end of the tunnel after a disappointing day [on Saturday], I think it was a very, very positive day. Lots learned, lots to take away from here, and lots for everybody to look forward to in the summer break and coming back to Spa.”
There were contrasting emotions between the two Haas drivers, however, as Nikita Mazepin was eliminated through no fault of his own when Kimi Raikkonen was released into his path in the pit lane and broke his front right suspension.
2021 Hungarian Grand Prix: Alfa Romeo release Räikkönen into Mazepin
“It’s just really annoying, that was one race I really wanted to be in,” Mazepin said. “Not only for me, but this race offered a lot of opportunities and my team does really need those opportunities.
“It’s just a shame that other teams make mistakes and send cars out. It was obvious – I need to double-stack, I’m not able to hold people up in the pit lane so I need to go somewhere and I was willing to go to my box and could not have turned in any later and Alfa just came out and took my tyre off.
“Could have been [a big result] but it’s not going to be. But I strongly believe that I have a long career in F1 and that’s seriously not the way I wanted to go into the summer break, to leave this weekend tired, with a sore body and a sore neck, a lack of laps, and a lack of result is very *** annoying.”