A rejuvenated David Schumacher will head into the summer break on the back of his strongest two rounds by a distance, after the Trident racer followed up his first win (and points) in Round 3 in Austria with three top eight finishes in Round 4 at Budapest.
Schumacher took P8, P6 and P4 in the races on the back of finishing fourth in Qualifying, his best result in the session so far.
The 20-point haul was his highest tally at this level and evidence of what a win can do for a driver’s confidence, with the German admitting that he entered the round with a lot less pressure on his shoulders.
“The confidence level has risen a lot since my race win at the Red Bull Ring,” said Schumacher. “I am really confident that the team are doing a great job, that I am back at a level and that I’ve finally gotten my head together again.
“I started the weekend way calmer. It took a lot of pressure off. The win in Austria helped to release the weight off my shoulders. It’s now much easier to start a weekend and I am enjoying it more - I’m having more fun.
“The (changes) have mostly been in myself, mentally. I didn’t run very well at all last year and then this year, I was arriving at rounds with confidence but still not running well and being unlucky. After a while, you start thinking, and my head got pretty bad. The race win was really good for the mental health and for my mentality.”
The German had endured several near misses this season, with mistakes and misfortune playing a part in his lack of points, including a collision in Barcelona when he was battling for the lead in Race 2.
It was an incident, amongst others, that knocked his belief, and Schumacher was quick to thank Trident for their role in rebuilding his confidence.
“They have put a lot of work into me,” he continued. "We spent a lot of time on the simulator, and we’ve had a lot of phone calls. We also spent a lot of time together when I was there after using sim.
“They’ve told me a lot of things to help, telling me that everything would be fine and things were working. At Barcelona we had an accident, in Paul Ricard we had clutch failures, so it hadn’t really been my season”
The improvement in Schumacher could be seen in Race 2 in Spielberg when the German held off Championship leader Dennis Hauger for several laps, despite the Norwegian’s PREMA possessing a clear pace and tyre advantage at the time.
The duo enjoyed an exciting back and forth, with Schumacher on “the absolute limit,” before Hauger eventually outbraked him on the penultimate lap.
“The battle was great, and our pace was getting better and better and better. Towards the end, I don’t know what happened, but Dennis had a lot more pace than me and my teammates, so we will need to figure out what was going on there.
“I could hold him back for a few laps but not for long enough. He was definitely more confident on the brakes - he outbraked me twice around the outside - so we will have to see what is going on there as well because that was the absolute limit for me.”
Schumacher enjoyed a similarly enthralling battle with his teammate Jack Doohan for the final podium spot in Race 3, and at one point pulled up alongside the Australian, but was unable to make the move stick.
“I did almost get past Jack,” explained Schumacher. “After that, I dropped back to fourth, controlled the pace and tried to save my tyres so that I could have another go, but it didn’t happen.
“I am just way more confident, and I am enjoying driving much more. We are at the front and that is just a lot more fun. I am already looking forward to the next race.
“It would be amazing to get directly back into the car next week, but we have a four-week break. I will use this to prepare myself even more.”