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Champion Mick Schumacher was afraid pit stop would cost him F2 glory

07/12/20

A lock-up threatened to derail the German's championship challenge.

Mick Schumacher was afraid a pit stop would cost him the Formula 2 championship but has no doubt he will only remember Sunday's sprint race for it being where he clinched the title.

Prema Racing driver Schumacher, who will graduate to Formula 1® with Haas next year, locked up into turn four on lap one of the final race of the season in Bahrain but managed to stay in front of title rival Callum Ilott until the midway point.

However, the 21-year-old fell behind Ilott – who he held a 14-point advantage over in the drivers' standings – and quickly slipped from third to sixth as his tyres fell away, resulting in him taking a non-mandatory pit stop for a fresh set.

A win or second-place finish with the bonus points for setting the fastest lap would have been enough for Ilott to deny Schumacher the title if the German got home scoreless.

However, Ilott's tyres degraded and he finished outside the points in 10th, with Schumacher setting the fastest lap but not getting any points because he failed to return to the top 10.

Asked how hearing that he was F2 champion sounded, Schumacher replied: "Good. It would have sounded a lot better if I'd had a good race today, but nevertheless we did enough.

"To be the champion now today, I owe it all to them [his team]. Such a great bunch of people.

"To be honest, I don't really know what happened [on the opening lap]. I knew the wind conditions would be tricky. I braked too late, that's the brutal truth... which kind of compromised the whole race.

"After that I did my best to try to stay in front of Callum - I knew he had good pace. I felt my rears going off and kept going and then I was like, 'I can't drive any more on this tyre.' We had to do something.

"I was actually a bit afraid to come in and the team said, 'Let's try, we can't finish on this set anyway.' We pitted, we didn't manage to get back to the front but we're champion today and that's what people will remember and I will too.

"I'm a bit overwhelmed. I don't really understand or feel a champion yet, it's going to take a few days maybe. I'm so happy and so grateful to have been working with those people.

"I really can say they are all friends of mine. I just want to say I love you to those guys, they're the best.

"The guys who were driving this year were absolutely amazing. They were all at a high level and have all been really respectful and great.

"To Callum, he gave me a run for my money. It's been really tough but so enjoyable at the same time.

"Thank you to him and thank you to Robert [Schwartzman, his Prema team-mate], who's kept on pushing me this year, kept on making me work harder, work on myself, put those extra hours in with the team. That's why we're where we are now."