Nico Hulkenberg talks up value of Mercedes learning experience for Mick Schumacher

Toby Miles
Mick Schumacher at the Mercedes W14 shakedown. February 2023.

Mick Schumacher will test for Alpine at the Jerez circuit.

Nico Hulkenberg has told Mick Schumacher to embrace his season on the sidelines and learn from Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

Returning after three seasons in reserve roles, Hulkenberg will be the only German on the 20-car grid this season. The 35-year-old replaces Schumacher at Haas, after Guenther Steiner opted for experience over potential in 2023.

Schumacher was disappointed to have his first F1 stint ended after just two seasons but it’s hard to imagine a better position for the 23-year-old outside of a full-time seat. Deputising for Hamilton and George Russell at Mercedes, he’s acknowledged that joining his father’s former team presents a chance to “add to my toolbox.”

Hulkenberg agrees, encouraging Schumacher to grow from his Mercedes stint.

“Just keep at it. It’s a chance for him to have more time because he’s not in the seat and doesn’t have the pressure to perform at the moment,” Hulkenberg told Sport Bild.

“He will be able to learn a lot at Mercedes from one of the best drivers ever (Lewis Hamilton). That’s valuable experience he can gain there and use for himself.”

Hulkenberg is speaking from experience, believing he has benefitted from his time away from the spotlight. He’s not the only one, with Alex Albon also confident that his one-year hiatus improved his driving.

The No.27 has raced four grands prix with Racing Point and Aston Martin since 2019, when he stepped away from a full-time seat at Renault. Still waiting for that elusive podium finish, he’s back for another crack with Haas and feels better than ever.

“After 2019, it was a conscious decision to leave Formula 1, knowing that there might not be a way back,” the 181-time grand prix starter added.

“From the middle of the year, I wasn’t in the best shape mentally at the time. The break gave me a good distance and reset. recommends

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“Of course it was different to follow Formula 1 from a distance. But the time also did me good. It was necessary for me and is certainly the reason why I’m very settled, motivated, fresh and ready to attack here now.”

As well as Schumacher, those words will give comfort to Daniel Ricciardo, who also steps into a reserve role at Red Bull after losing his McLaren drive.

Haas team principal Steiner believes that Hulkenberg will help drive the American-backed team up the grid faster than the more inexperienced Schumacher, but not everyone agrees.

The signing has been questioned by some, including a former Red Bull engineer who found it “really weird” that Schumacher would be replaced by a driver 12 years his senior.