RACE DEBRIEF

    Mercedes have confirmed that Mick Schumacher will take on the role of reserve driver for 2023, following his departure from Haas.

    2020 F2 champion Schumacher contested two seasons with Haas, but was moved aside in favour of Nico Hulkenberg for 2023 – the team preferring the 181 Grands Prix’ worth of experience of Schumacher’s compatriot to help move them up the midfield.

    ANALYSIS: Why Haas split with Schumacher, how Hulkenberg got the nod – and why Steiner isn’t worried about tension with Magnussen

    Following the news of Schumacher’s exit from Haas, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was open about wanting to “look after” the German, as he pointed to his family’s links to Mercedes: Mick’s seven-time champion father Michael 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

    Speaking of the confirmation that Schumacher would step up into Mercedes’ reserve role – with the team’s two 2022 reserve drivers, Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne, having found berths at AlphaTauri (in a race seat) and Aston Martin (as reserve) for next year – Wolff said: “Mick is a talented young driver and we’re delighted to have him join the team. He is a hard worker, has a calm and methodical approach and is still hungry to learn and improve as a driver. These are all important qualities, and we’re excited for him to help us develop the W14.

    “We also know that with two years of experience racing in Formula 1 under his belt, he will be ready to step into the car at short notice to replace either Lewis [Hamilton] or George [Russell], should that need arise."

    Schumacher added of his new role: "I am thrilled to be part of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team as their reserve driver for 2023, and I am committed to give it my all to contribute to their performance in this very competitive and professional environment.

    "I take this as a new start, and I am just excited and grateful to Toto and everybody involved for putting their trust in me. F1 is such a fascinating world, and you never stop learning, so I look forward to absorbing more knowledge and putting in all my efforts for the benefit of the Mercedes team."

    ANALYSIS: How Team Principal Silly Season unfolded at Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and McLaren

    It had been thought that Daniel Ricciardo might take up the role of Mercedes reserve next year, before it was confirmed in November that the Australian would return to the Red Bull team – with whom he won seven of his eight Grands Prix – as a third driver for 2023.

    Earlier on Thursday, meanwhile, Ferrari announced that they would be ending their collaboration with Schumacher after four years, Schumacher having joined the driver academy of the team his father won five of his seven world titles for, back in 2019.

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    A key part of Schumacher’s role will be developing next year’s replacement for the difficult W13

    F1 Correspondent Lawrence Barretto says…

    As soon as Haas boss Guenther Steiner told Mick Schumacher that his services were no longer required, the German and his management team accelerated talks they had tentatively begun with Mercedes.

    They initially held out on a potential spot at Williams should Logan Sargeant fail to get the required Super Licence points to race next year – but they knew that was unlikely.

    READ MORE: ‘Mick did a good job, but we need a driver to carry us’ – Steiner on why Haas went for Hulkenberg over Schumacher

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was very amenable to a collaboration with Schumacher, the Silver Arrows having a strong bond with the family having given Mick’s father and seven-time world champion Michael a route back to F1.

    So Schumacher and Mercedes quickly arrived at a deal, which triggered the end of his four years as a Ferrari junior.

    It was important for Schumacher to stay in F1 in some role, to ensure he isn’t forgotten. Things move quickly in F1, so being around at races to get face time with key personnel across the paddock, plus extensive work in the simulator to keep his eye in, was crucial.

    READ MORE: ‘We've always set hard targets’ – Wolff on Russell’s rise from PowerPoint presentation to Grand Prix winner

    Making it back onto the grid for 2024 will be tough, but the experience he will gain from working with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, race winner George Russell and one of F1’s most dominant teams will only serve to improve his credentials.

    And you never know what will happen. Nico Hulkenberg found a way back in this year with Haas. Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen did, too. Schumacher will be holding onto that as hope he can follow in their footsteps.