George Russell offers advice to Mick Schumacher as Mercedes reserve driver

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team signs Mick Schumacher as Reserve Driver for 2023

Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team signs Mick Schumacher as Reserve Driver for 2023

Mick Schumacher is a new face at Mercedes, and George Russell believes putting in the work is the way to make a perfect start.

For the past two seasons Schumacher held a race seat, his first in Formula 1, at Haas, partnering Nikita Mazepin in 2021 as part of an all-rookie line-up, and then the experienced Kevin Magnussen in 2022.

It was certainly a slow burner for Schumacher and his Formula 1 career, a trend which followed him up from the junior series, but as the 2022 campaign progressed his improved performance looked like it could be enough to convince Haas to give him a third season.

Alas, they did not, as Nico Hulkenberg was given the nod to replace Schumacher for 2023, Haas believing that experience was their key to swifter progress.

That then allowed Mercedes to bring Schumacher into the fold, and Russell said that if he were in Schumacher’s shoes, then he would be working hard in the simulator and doing his utmost to settle into the team as quickly as possible.

“If I was in Mick’s shoes, I’d work super hard in the simulator here at Brackley, and try everything to integrate well into the team,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.

And while Schumacher pumps in the laps in the simulator, Russell will go into his second season alongside Lewis Hamilton as a Mercedes driver, the team looking for a clear improvement on 2022 when the troublesome W13 allowed for only one pole and grand prix win all season, both scored by Russell.

What Mercedes did enjoy though was a harmonious relationship between Russell and Hamilton in that first season, which many thought was far from a given as Russell arrived with his own title ambitions.

Hamilton has not always had the best of relationships with a Mercedes team-mate, isn’t that right, Nico Rosberg? But, Russell said a repeat of any such dramas would be of zero help to him, Hamilton or the Mercedes team.

“Lewis and I, that worked because we know that together we take the team further than against each other,” said Russell.

“In the past, if there were problems with driver pairings, maybe it was because there was less of an age gap and there was a fight for supremacy in the team. We don’t have that.

“If the good relationship with Lewis broke down, it wouldn’t do the team any good and it would hurt ourselves over time.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

Mick Schumacher given F1 2023 boost as McLaren welcome him to the family
Mercedes share behind-the-scenes images as Mick Schumacher completes seat fit
Valtteri Bottas admits his five seasons trying to beat Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes were ‘exhausting’

With Russell declaring that he feels “ready to fight for the championship” in a W14 which is expected to be more competitive than the W13, he also acknowledges that this goal will also depend on the level of progress which Mercedes’ rivals have been able to make.

Red Bull’s RB19 will be an evolution of their dominant RB18 challenger, while there has been talk of Ferrari’s SF-23 being a second per lap faster than the already strong F1-75.

“We know that we are building a car that will be faster than last year’s car,” Russell stated.

“I am also sure that we will improve on last year. But we don’t know what everyone else has done. And that’s the problem. It’s a relative game.”

Mick Schumacher far from finished in Formula 1

The landscape of this great series is constantly evolving, and it is quite amazing how just a few months can allow for a totally different picture in the career of Schumacher.

When Haas announced that he would not be retained for 2023, many thought that could be curtains for his F1 career, even if Mercedes reached out a hand of support as they went on to do.

Of course, that could still be all she wrote for Schumacher’s time in an F1 race seat, but now Mercedes are just one of several potential openings for the German racer to potentially return to the grid.

Hamilton looks set to sign a multi-year extension with Mercedes, but if another difficult campaign is on the way in 2023, perhaps that would make the seven-time champ question whether he wants to stick around? Mercedes would already then have Schumacher as an option on the sidelines.

Or McLaren, where Schumacher also serves as a reserve driver, could also take an interest, should Oscar Piastri struggle like Daniel Ricciardo did alongside Lando Norris. Plus, Norris is expecting a McLaren car that can challenge for regular wins from 2024, so if the Woking outfit do not show clear progression towards that level, his head may well be turned by a rival team.

Even Sauber are a potential option for Schumacher as they prepare to become the Audi works team from 2026. Audi already now own a minor stake in the team, and their interest in Schumacher has not been made a secret by any stretch of the imagination, so it seems there are a few doors which could well open for Schumacher.