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Mick Schumacher turns 21: The Ferrari academy graduates who made it to F1

By Omnisport

London, March 22: Mick Schumacher turned 21 on Sunday and the Ferrari Driver Academy have offered him their congratulations.

In January 2019, he joined the team with whom his father dominated the sport in the early 2000s.

Michael Schumacher won the drivers' title every year from 2000 to 2004 and is regarded as one of Formula One's greatest drivers.

But son Mick has been forging his own path in motorsport over recent years and won the Formula 3 European Championship in 2018.

Since signing, he has had the full support of Ferrari in achieving the ultimate goal of reaching F1 and will have the backing of the fans who idolised his father in years gone by.

He won his first F2 race in 2019 and took part in several F1 tests.

As he turns 21, we take a look at the drivers who made it from the Ferrari Driver Academy to the F1 grid and how they fared.

Jules Bianchi

Bianchi was the first recruit to the programme in 2009, signing up to a long-term deal with the Italian giants after impressing during a young drivers test in Jerez. The Frenchman was made Ferrari test driver in 2010, replacing a trio of veterans in the position with Giancarlo Fisichella, Luca Badoer and Marc Gene having previously fulfilled that function.

After driving in practice sessions for Force India in 2012, Bianchi landed his first F1 seat in 2013, driving for Marussia, and steered the struggling team to a top-10 finish at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix. Bianchi was tragically killed at the Japanese Grand Prix later that year when his car collided with a recovery vehicle.

Sergio Perez

Perez was part of the academy at the same time as Bianchi and is now one of the most experienced drivers on the F1 grid. The Mexican was given a drive with Sauber only a year into his time with Ferrari and was released from the programme in 2012 after being snapped up by McLaren for the 2013 campaign.

He is entering his seventh consecutive season with Racing Point, formerly known as the Force India team, and boasts eight podium finishes from his 176 race starts. Of the 2019 grid, only Nico Hulkenberg had started more races without picking up a victory.

Lance Stroll

Perez's team-mate at Racing Point is another academy graduate in the form of Lance Stroll. Stroll was only 11 years old when he joined the programme in 2010 - the same year as Perez - and Williams spotted his potential when they took him on board as a test driver for 2016.

The Canadian won the Formula 3 European Championship that year and was promoted to a race seat with Williams for the following campaign. Stroll's father, Lawrence, is part of the consortium that bought Force India and, as widely expected, he made it a family affair with the team in 2019 and will return this year.

Antonio Giovinazzi

Giovinazzi is the first member of this list who is still a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy and in 2019 he got his first real taste of F1.

The Italian did contest the first two races of 2017 for Sauber in the absence of the injured Pascal Wehrlein, but the seat was his for last season and he could not have asked for better mentor to drive alongside, with Kimi Raikkonen - drivers' champion with Ferrari in 2007 - having returned to the team for 2019.

Giovinazzi struggled to 17th with Alfa Romeo in 2019, but will have been buoyed by a fifth-place finish in Brazil that he will hope gives him momentum this year as he returns with Raikkonen.

Charles Leclerc

Leclerc is now the example all young drivers in Ferrari's academy can aspire to, and proof that the system works.

The Monegasque driver tested for Haas and Sauber in his first two years on the programme and, after an impressive 10 top-10 finishes for the latter in his first full season on the grid, he was chosen by Ferrari to succeed Raikkonen as team-mate to four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

That put Leclerc in a competitive car for 2019 despite only having a year of senior F1 experience under his belt and he delivered emphatically. Leclerc finished above Vettel in the drivers' championship as he won two races and racked up seven pole positions, more than anyone else on the grid.

He was rewarded with a new five-year contract that puts Vettel's future on an uncertain footing heading into the 2020 campaign.

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Story first published: Sunday, March 22, 2020, 17:50 [IST]
Other articles published on Mar 22, 2020
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