In Abu Dhabi last month, Mick Schumacher concluded his inaugural year as Mercedes' reserve driver, and the young German has shared the main learning he gained from his unique experience.
Schumacher was picked up by Mercedes and handed a support role with the Brackley squad after losing his race seat with Haas at the end of the 2022 F1 season.
The 24-year-old’s responsibilities included development work in the team's simulator and embedding with Mercedes on race weekends.
But he was also given an opportunity to return to the track last summer when he was assigned to a Pirelli tyre test in Barcelona.
Schumacher assumed his role Mercedes during another challenging season for the firmer championship-winning outfit. And working alongside Lewis Hamilton and George Russell and experiencing firsthand the team’s trials and tribulations left him with a very specific lesion.
“I think that for me what people forget – I was aware of it but it’s still something which you don't think too much about – is that everybody is human, and everybody has the same insecurities,” he said in an interview with the official Formula 1 website.
“That for me was my biggest learning.
“Some of the questions when driving myself which weren't answered then, have been answered here. That everybody is going through some stuff especially while racing and it was great to have that experience.
“But also, obviously you know why they are as good as they are because of the approaches they take.
“It’s great to see also Lewis who has been with the team for so long, the connection he has to the team, they can talk without using words and understand each other and that I think is something which is quite special.”
Schumacher received widespread praise for his efforts and dedication this year, including from Hamilton and Russell, as well as from Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
Unfortunately, the accolades did nothing to help him secure a full-time seat in F1.
“It's great that people recognise that,” he admits. “But unfortunately, I'm still here as a reserve driver, not as a prime driver.
"So, obviously something has gone wrong and sometimes it’s a bit hard to understand.
“Unfortunately a lot of the contracts are multi-year deals so there is not really an opening for next year. So, it’s a bit of a tough spot to be in, but for 2025 there is a lot more openings and we will have to see.”
Schumacher will nevertheless return to active duty next season, but not in F1. He’ll help spearhead Alpine’s works efforts in the World Endurance Championship, a programme that will sit alongside his reserve driver commitment with Mercedes.
“I will be keeping very close ties to Formula 1 and hopefully that will allow me to also prove myself to the people of Formula 1 that I still deserve a chance in the pinnacle of motorsport and that I belong here.”