Mick Schumacher "has matured a lot" and is ready to win races in the Formula 3 European Championship this season, according to his Prema Powerteam squad.
The 19-year-old son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher has emerged from two of the three pre-season tests with the overall quickest time – a big step forward over his 2017 form.
Prema boss Rene Rosin pointed out that the signs were there in Schumacher’s performance at the end-of-season Macau Grand Prix, where he set fastest lap following an incident early in the race.
“For sure Mick has matured in the winter,” Rosin told Motorsport.com. “But I want to review Macau – for a rookie he did an excellent job, and it was like a new start for him.
“He followed everything we asked him to do, and if he didn’t go straight on at Lisboa [the corner at the end of the main straight] I would not have been surprised to see him on the podium.”
Schumacher’s biggest problem in 2017 was his qualifying, and Rosin revealed that this has been a focus over the off-season.
“We have worked in the winter testing with that in mind, but as well he has matured a lot and he is ready now,” said Rosin.
“I think he should just keep concentrating, and be thinking race by race, session by session, without putting pressure on himself. He doesn’t need to think about the championship – he just needs to do his own thing.”
Prema has a very evenly matched line-up comprising Schumacher, third-year F3 drivers Ralf Aron and Guan Yu Zhou, and rookies Marcus Armstrong and Robert Shwartzman as it bids to bounce back from defeat in 2017 at the hands of Carlin’s Lando Norris.
“With all the drivers we have been doing different tests and different stuff to understand better and to improve where we were missing last year,” said Rosin. “In all cases we have fulfilled what we were expecting to do.”
Rosin predicted that the main rivals to his team in 2018 will be Motopark’s Macau Grand Prix winner Dan Ticktum, Carlin pair Sacha Fenestraz and Ferdinand Habsburg, and Hitech GP’s Alex Palou.