Wolff praises Mick Schumacher but would prefer to see him “actually sit in a cockpit and race”

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Mick Schumacher’s entry into the 2023 season has not exactly been what he was hoping for. After only two seasons with the Haas team, the German driver did not have his contract renewed for this year, returning back to the paddock as a reserve driver for Mercedes.

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Always present in the paddock, often followed by the international broadcast cameras next to Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff, Schumacher is working with the Brackley-based team on the simulator, offering support to the drivers before the races, giving feedback and concrete data.

Toto Wolff spoke about the driver’s work and how he has been able to see first-hand his growth this year. Speaking after a double podium in Barcelona, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were full of praise for the work the German did on the simulator.

“First of all, it’s great to have a mature, successful and experienced Formula One driver supporting us. In the sim and with his feedback, that is a tremendous advantage.

“At some of the European Grand Prix, having him in the sim overnight and providing data for the Saturday is a super advantage for us.

“On the other side, if George or Lewis were to have a fish poisoning, well, Lewis can’t have a fish poisoning, it would be an avocado poisoning. Then we know we have a super guy that will drive the car well.”

Despite the help given to Mercedes, the goal remains to get back on track as quickly as possible. Wolff, for his part, admitted that he would like to see Schumacher back on the grid, rather than in the Mercedes simulator.

“As much as I like this situation for the benefit of the team, I would every day of the week prefer that Mick actually sits in a cockpit and actually races.”

Compliments alone, however, bring little success in the Motorsport world. As Wolff himself told, it is not easy to facilitate a driver’s return to a single-seater in the premier category. It is through action that one manages to get a contract and the final choice always remains up to the teams.

“I’m not even sure that we can facilitate because every time we speak highly of him, somebody feels to say say something negative.

“As a little aside, I’ve never spoken to the Red Bull leadership about giving Mick a place there the way it was said from Helmut [Marko].

“Wherever I can speak highly of and praise Mick, that’s what I am doing. But at the end, it’s every team’s authority to decide on the drivers.

“And I very much respected that our contracts with the teams were never ‘you have to take our junior driver’ or ‘you have to take our reserve driver’, because when I was at Williams, I wanted to have my own choice.

“But I think teams are missing out. To be honest, I think he was burned out last year.”

For the German driver, the 2022 season ended in 16th position, with 12 points scored, but too many crashes hampered his campaign.

For Wolff, the key is to give a driver a suitable environment. A tailor-made environment. A very different vision from the one adopted by Günther Steiner at Haas.

“You need to provide an environment and framework that is different to every driver. We’re all different human beings, and I believe whoever gets him will have a very good driver.”