The son of the GOAT’s dreams in Formula 1 might not be dead after all, with the young driver receiving a lifeline from one of his dad’s old teams.
Mick Schumacher’s had a bit of a rough run in F1. After only two years in the sport with American team Haas, the young German and son of seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher found himself without a seat for 2023 after one of the most chaotic F1 silly seasons in recent memory.
The 23-year-old, who won the Formula 2 World Championship in 2020, struggled at backmarker team Haas. While he scored his first F1 points this year with an 8th-place finish at the British Grand Prix, his propensity for expensive crashes and otherwise mediocre performances saw Haas ultimately make the call to sign journeyman driver Nico Hülkenberg in his place for 2023.
To make matters worse, Ferrari announced that they would be ending their contract with Mick, with Schumacher having joined their driver academy back in 2019. It seemed all that hope; all that momentum Schumacher had built up over a lifetime of driving was about to evaporate.
Thankfully, another of his dad’s former teams has stepped in and signed the young German, with Mercedes announcing Schumacher will become their reserve driver for 2023.
Mercedes team principal and CEO Toto Wolff had previously been open about wanting to “look after” Mick, expressing sympathy for his difficult predicament and his failure to launch.
“I think he deserves a chance,” Wolff said on F1’s Beyond The Grid podcast. “He won [the F2 title] and that is not easy. Things can go against you in your first years in Formula 1. He was under pressure to deliver and that doesn’t help, and F1 is brutal.”
“Maybe, in a way, having a year off as a third driver – similar to what Daniel [Ricciardo is doing with Red Bull] – can be good to reassess yourself and bring yourself in a better place and hopefully find a seat again.”Toto Wolff
It’s very fitting that Mick’s joining Mercedes. His famous dad competed for Mercedes in sportscars and DTM prior to becoming an F1 driver, before finishing his career at the Silver Arrows in a three-year spell from 2010-12, while Mick’s uncle Ralf and cousin David have also raced for Mercedes in various categories, the F1 blog relates.
Of course, this isn’t just an act of charity from Wolff and Mercedes. After the 2022 driver market silly season, the top team found itself without a reserve driver, with its two former reserves having found seats elsewhere: Nyck de Vries netting himself a full-time drive at AlphaTauri, and Stoffel Vandoorne becoming an Aston Martin reserve driver.
In Schumacher, they get a young, diligent driver with a methodical work ethic similar to his father’s – as well as a fire in his belly, as he’ll want to do everything he can to impress and work his way back to a full-time race seat. There’s also the obvious attraction of having a German driver (especially one with a famous German name) at a German team.
What Mick needs to do is pull a George Russell. The then-Williams driver impressed Wolff with his performance after he stood in for a sick Lewis Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix – which was no doubt a crucial factor in Mercedes signing the young Brit for 2022 and beyond.
If Schumacher can put in a similarly impressive performance if or when either Hamilton or Russell needs a fill-in, he could inspire another team to give him a second chance. Here’s hoping…