Sunday, July 21, 2024

Mick Schumacher ‘settling in great’ to Mercedes Reserve Driver role

Looking to bounce back after a disappointing tenure with the MoneyGram Haas F1 Team, Mick Schumacher has been speaking on how he’s been using his new role inside the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team to help develop his craft ahead of a potential return to a full-time FIA Formula 1 World Championship seat in 2024.

Schumacher was dropped by Haas after a number of costly crashes by the young German driver in 2022, saw Team Principal Guenther Steiner look towards the more experienced hands of Nico Hülkenberg to partner Kevin Magnussen at Haas for the 2023 campaign.

After both Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries left their roles inside the Mercedes ranks, the team looked towards the young German driver to be their new reserve driver. Allowing Schumacher to join the team that his father made his Formula 1 comeback for between 2010 and 2012.

Speaking in his new diary column on Mercedes’ website, Schumacher touched on how he has been finding life inside his new team.

Since I joined Mercedes, I’ve been settling in great. Everybody is just so open-minded towards me, and that made me feel welcome from the first moment I stepped into the factory in Brackley. I’ve spent a lot of time there in these first months. It’s a very impressive facility.

I visited it back in 2014 as a young driver and was even sneaking in the simulator then, but everything is a lot bigger now than it was then! It is a state-of-the-art facility, very impressive in how things are structured and how every detail is thoughtfully taken care of. I’m still getting used to the level of preparation that you see here, and I am trying to soak up as much information as I can. Also, there’s still a lot of people I haven’t met but it’s been fun getting to know as many colleagues as I can.

Schumacher’s role entails him spending a significant amount of time in the simulator at the team’s Brackley base between race weekends to help spearhead the setup and preparation of the W14 for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell each race weekend.

The German spoke on how his experience with the new regulations in 2022, has helped him bring a new level of insight into the simulator for Mercedes.

My main focus up to now has been working in the simulator. Because I have raced a car under this new set of regulations, I have a good understanding of how to drive them. That has helped me in my role so far and hopefully added value for the Team. I will look to be an extra pair of eyes and resource to help with the development programme across the year.

“The simulator team have been super kind to me and great to work with. It’s impressive to drive the sim because it’s just so advanced, and I have been pushing to do more. It’s not enough for me to just sit on the side-lines, I want to be helpful wherever I can. Of course, it’s not the real thing and I would love to be driving the W14!

Despite no longer being in a full-time Formula 1 seat, Schumacher can take great confidence when comparing his current situation to that of Esteban Ocon’s in 2018 when the Frenchmen was left without a drive after the 2018 season. Like Schumacher, Ocon became Mercedes’ reserve driver when found himself out of a full time seat. After undertaking his role of reserve driver in 2019, Ocon would go onto earn himself the seat he currently occupies with the BWT Alpine F1 Team.

Looking to follow in the footsteps of Ocon, Schumacher remarked on how much he has already learnt by working with Hamilton and Russell, claiming that his skillset has already improved as a result of working with the British pair.

“It’s also been fascinating working with Lewis and George. It’s an interesting period for me as I get to look over and work with two fantastic drivers, which you don’t always get to do. I’ve learned a lot about what’s important in terms of approaching race weekends; I feel like I’ve already gained so much knowledge to add to my skillset. I didn’t think I would have learned and gained so much so early into my role.

As a driver, you usually do not get to hear what is going on between all the engineers while you are out on the track, so listening in during the sessions has been extremely interesting. I was quite shocked at the season opener in Bahrain, I did not expect the sheer amount of exchange that happens.

Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

Many around the paddock, including Sebastian Vettel, felt that Haas used Schumacher as a scapegoat to cover up the poor performance of VF-22. Listening to Schumacher speak so positively about his new surroundings it’s clear for all to see just how comfortably the twenty-four year old is settling into his new environment.

You don’t know what you’re missing until you are actually part of it. What I really appreciate in working with those engineers is that they are genuinely listening to you and your opinion matters, and what is special from an emotional side is that many people who are working for the Team now were working here when my dad was driving.

Ahead of this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Schumacher spoke on how he and the team have been preparing for the challenge that Baku City Circuit is set to throw the Mercedes team this weekend.

Whilst we’ve all been working hard, it’s important to keep a balance and get some downtime. I went out early to Australia and went surfing. I wouldn’t say that I’m a great surfer, but I have to say that I have come to love it and I feel it is not just for fun but also very helpful for training. Even at home in Switzerland I do a lot of surfing. Yes, this may sound strange when speaking of a country that’s not famous for its beaches, but we have a surf spot close to where I live.

It can’t beat the adrenaline rush of motorsport though and I’m excited to get back to Brackley and continue our work. We’re working through quite a lot of simulator sessions before the next race in Baku so we will do some virtual mileage and be pushing hard to bring performance to the car.

Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team