Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were full of praise for Mick Schumacher after the Spanish Grand Prix.
Following on from Mercedes’ best result of the year as they took a double podium with Lewis Hamilton second and George Russell third, both drivers have highlighted the role Mick Schumacher played in helping their cause.
The German driver, who is without a race seat for 2023 after being dropped from Haas, was signed as Mercedes’ reserve and development driver for this season and spent hours in the simulator over the Spanish weekend.
With Mercedes struggling for pace and consistency on Friday during the two hours of practice time – to the extent where Hamilton feared not making it into the top 10 in qualifying – Schumacher climbed into the simulator at Brackley to help hone the setup and the upgrades introduced by the team over the Monaco and Spanish weekends.
“The car felt great today,” Hamilton said on Sunday after coming home with his season-best result.
“Friday was a real struggle with the balance, it was way out of the window. It was very hard to drive, very unpredictable. And then we did some great work overnight.
“We’ve got a great team, with Mick back in the simulator on Friday night and he did some great work, which helped us get on the right track on Saturday. I think we did pretty decent work in trying to understand the different downforce levels. And in the race today the car felt great.”
Russell echoed Hamilton’s sentiments, praising the long hours that Schumacher had done in order to help out: “The work that Mick and the simulator team are doing overnight, they were there well past midnight to help us with the setup and get it in a good window for the race today. So we are making strides in the right direction.”
Mick Schumacher: Getting a podium is mega
Having returned to the Barcelona paddock on Saturday after his late night on Friday, Schumacher was on the ground to watch Mercedes’ race pace come to life as they came home ahead of everyone apart from a dominant Max Verstappen.
“Great job from the team! The strategy looked good for us today, which is why both cars are on the podium,” Schumacher told F1-Insider.
“I was in the simulator until two in the morning on Saturday and then flew straight here in the morning.
“[The car] seems to be working, especially in racing trim. I’m really happy with that because we’ve put a lot of work into the simulator and the fact that we’ve gotten a podium is mega.”
While all at Mercedes were brimming with optimism after their apparent step forward following a car concept change, with the team having rolled out sidepods, a new floor and a suspension change at last weekend’s Monaco GP, Schumacher doubts his team are yet in a position to think about being able to challenge the Red Bull’s superiority.
“We’ll have to wait and see,” he said.
“I think Red Bull has a very strong car, but you’ve seen crazier things and championships have turned around. But realistically, of course, they seem to be very strong at the moment.”
Schumacher will stay on in Barcelona for a two-day Pirelli test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where he’ll be rewarded for his hard work by driving the Mercedes W14 for Wednesday’s programme – George Russell kicks off action for them on Tuesday.
“Of course, a large part is really just what Pirelli wants,”Schumacher said, but hinted he may get the chance to put in a quick time to test himself: “Maybe we can still squeeze in a little something.”