Again and again this question. David Schumacher found his answer long ago. Nevertheless, he continues to hear the question frequently, it is part of his life, part of his family’s history. So: How much does he feel additional expectations – as a Schumacher in motorsport? “I don’t know how it is for others. I only know it that way and got used to it from the start,” says the 20-year-old. “I don’t feel any more pressure than others. I put most of the pressure on myself and a little bit from my father.”
David is the son of Ralf Schumacher, who drove in Formula 1 for ten years and won six Grand Prix in 180 starts. He is Michael’s nephew, seven-time world champion, long record holder in many statistics of this series, formative like few others, an icon. And he is Mick’s cousin, who has been driving for Team Haas in Formula 1 since 2021 and has also been a reserve driver at Ferrari since 2022, the traditional racing team with which his father Michael won the title five times. When you think of motorsport, you think of Schumacher. That can open doors and generate enormous attention, like with Mick. But it can also lead to the experience that Schumacher is not just Schumacher – and maybe it doesn’t have to be.
David Schumacher didn’t get enough sponsors for Formula 2: “That surprised me myself.”
When the German Touring Car Masters (DTM) gets underway this weekend in Portimao, Portugal, David will be driving a Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Team Winward. He takes a detour from the route that is usually planned on the way to the premier class: Formula 3, Formula 2, Formula 1. However, even great success in sport does not guarantee a cockpit. Money plays an increasingly important role. And there are only 20 seats.
Oscar Piastri, for example, won both junior series directly – nevertheless in 2022 in Formula 1 it was only enough for a substitute driver at Alpine because others bring a lot of money. Like a dowry. In Formula 2, a competitive team would need about four million euros for one season. Paying this sum from the family fund – so far Ralf has taken on a large part of the costs – seemed too risky, not least after the Piastri case. But David didn’t get enough sponsors for Formula 2, so his last name didn’t help either. “That surprised me myself,” he says. “But this series doesn’t offer enough marketing space as a platform, it doesn’t get through to the outside because it’s hardly broadcast.”
Why doesn’t what worked for the other work for one? Ralf Schumacher said in an interview with the SZ in March that he had hoped for more interest because “it would have worked well in synergy with Mick”. But motorsport is no longer so popular with companies, and there is a difference. Mick was lucky that he received strong financial support from Ferrari and Deutsche Vermögensberatung: “And his father was already a hero somewhere.”
While Mick was shielded for a long time, it wasn’t necessary for David in this way
The excitement that Michael created no matter where he went, the curiosity and fascination around him was enormous. And they passed to Mick. Even when the 23-year-old was driving in Formula 4, he was surrounded by photographers, sometimes for minutes. Hardly anyone else is interested in the series, although some descendants of well-known racing drivers have already started here. But the fuss in the junior classes was hardly as big as that about Mick, probably not about anyone else. So he was shielded as best he could until Formula 3.
With David it was not necessary in this way. The way he speaks also shows that he was socialized differently. Polite, open and reflective, like his cousin, but not with the reserve that he had shown at first, being under constant observation. “Fortunately, more and more Mick was paying attention,” says David. “I was calm. On the one hand, I’m happy about that. On the other hand, it would have been an advantage in terms of sponsorship if we hadn’t raced in junior series at the same time.”
Facial expressions, gestures, language, approach – many always look for Michael in Mick. David is not so strongly related to his father, but rather to his cousin, who has already achieved what he also wants to achieve. Mick won Formula 3 and Formula 2 in his second year before he made it into Formula 1 and the hype got even bigger: Michael’s son! Finally a Schumacher again! David ended his first Formula 3 season without points, the second as eleventh. At the third race weekend in 2021 he won the second of three races. “That really freed me and helped me mentally. After that, the self-doubt went away and things only went uphill,” he says. “So long without points – you start to question yourself at some point.” He knows that he has to be more successful in order to make it up the ladder.
The way to Formula 1, says father Ralf Schumacher, is “simply no longer affordable”. Nevertheless, David wants to try. Even if he finds that motorsport in the single-seater categories has recently developed worse because it is more focused on money. After your recent experiences, did you ever think about pursuing a different career? Financially, yes, says David. “But I’ll always do my best to get as far as I can. If at some point it doesn’t work anymore, I have to accept that.” But only then.
With all the hurdles, it helps to have a confidant who knows this world inside out. In Formula 4, David became a rookie champion with the US Racing team, which was co-led by his father. Ralf has always been his mentor, manager and driving coach. They’ve been living together for a long time, only they see each other less often because of all the travel. “Because my father has a lot of experience, I can take a lot from him,” says David. “He’s always completely open with me.”
He thinks he’s in the right place to continue his career. Formula 2 is not an option anyway. Father and son discussed this at length. Also whether the missing sponsors could be compensated by another private investment. “But the chances of success were so slim, most good teams had their drivers, it would have been a waste of money,” says David.
For him, this year is all about learning. The transition to a GT car is big: more weight and technical systems like ABS require a different approach. Some of the 28 competitors – including Briton Esmee Hawkey as the only woman – have many years of experience in GT series and in the DTM. Schumacher’s teammates Lucas Auer and defending champion Maximilian Götz are among them. It won’t be easy.
David Schumacher has not yet thought about what comes after this season: “I’m a spontaneous person. I’ve never set a schedule, and I never will. I think that does more damage than it helps.” Maybe his way will lead him back to the formula world, maybe one day there will be two Schumachers in Formula 1 again. Perhaps touring car racing will be more than just a branch. Even so, he would continue the family tradition. Michael – only a few races – and Ralf both drove in the DTM. But no Schumacher has yet become a champion here.