Mick Schumacher will not be driving in Formula 1 in 2023. The 23-year-old does not yet know what he will do next year. His heart burns for motorsport and he wants to get back into a cockpit as soon as possible. Mercedes seems to offer him the best option.
Shortly before the start of the last race weekend of the 2022 season in Abu Dhabi, it became official: after two years together, team boss Günther Steiner’s Haas racing team decided against continuing to have Mick Schumacher as a regular driver. Without the son of record world champion Michael Schumacher, the US team wants to take the next development step forward. Instead of the 23-year-old, the eighth in the constructors' standings relies on returning Nico Hülkenberg as the second driver alongside Kevin Magnussen.
The Mercedes factory team, on the other hand, never tired of emphasizing after the definite Mick-Aus at Haas that Schumacher is now an exciting personality for the team. "We believe that if the situation arises, we can take care of him with someone who simply fits the team," team boss Toto Wolff opened all doors for Schumacher.
And record world champion and regular driver Lewis Hamilton seems quite taken with the idea of welcoming Michael Schumacher's son to his team in the future: "Mick is a great talent. He would be great for Mercedes. He's a German driver. Michael and Mercedes were close connected,” said Hamilton to “Sport Bild”.
Mercedes is still looking for a test and replacement driver for the coming year. As is well known, Nyck de Vries managed to get a cockpit at Alpha Tauri. Father Michael's former team now almost seems like the ideal solution for Mick Schumacher. Schumacher himself, who was still listed as a driver in Ferrari's Driver Academy until the end of this year, made no secret of his great sympathy for the Silver Arrows. "Mercedes is a great brand, their achievements in Formula 1 are incredible. I'm looking at my options and Mercedes is one of them," he said in Abu Dhabi.
So would stepping back into the second row of a top Formula 1 team actually be the best choice for Schumacher? Combined with the medium-term goal of getting a regular place in the premier class of motorsport. When looking at Mick Schumacher's other alternatives in international motorsport, the only conclusion that remains is: Yes, without a doubt!
The work of the third pilot in the team should not be underestimated anyway. The test driver of a team is by no means just the substitute who is allowed to turn up once or twice a year in the Friday sessions of the race weekends to give the regular drivers a break. The test driver is particularly responsible in the period leading up to the first race weekends, when many hours of simulations and test drives have to be completed. His experience reports in the simulator and in the cockpit are of great importance, as is his technical understanding and his handling of new vehicle parts.
As a test driver, Mick Schumacher would initially work more intensively with the vehicle between seasons when developing the new Mercedes car than would later regular drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell. The former Formula 2 champion is likely to hope for new experience, which should be advantageous for his career planning, especially in the long term.
The biggest plus point for Schumacher in the event of a change to the Silver Arrows would not even be being allowed to continue and regularly take a seat in a Formula 1 car. Above all, the direct cooperation with the most successful team of the past decades would prove to be a huge benefit for further career planning, everyone involved is sure. With eight constructors' titles in a row between 2014 and 2021, Mercedes has shaped the longest winning streak by a team in the history of Formula 1, and with Lewis Hamilton it still has the most successful driver of all time in its own ranks. Being able to benefit from this experience would be a greater treasure for Schumacher than a regular cockpit in a backbench team. At least that's what the big proponents of a Mick switch to Mercedes argue.
Temporarily settling for third in the team hierarchy away from the spotlight and then coming back with new experience and capability has proven its worth once before this year. Alex Albon, who cut a rather unfortunate figure when he was Max Verstappen's teammate at Red Bull 2020, has used the demotion to test driver 2021 to become a better racer.
This year he managed a very stable year in the defeated Williams. With 19:2 qualifying duels and 15:4 race duels he gave his team colleague Nicholas Latifi practically no chance.
The supporters of Mick Schumacher are now also hoping for this supposed step back in order to make a new start. The chances of a Mercedes commitment have at least increased significantly in the last few days. "I think he just suits us," was at least Toto Wolff's unmistakable statement.