Schumacher steps up at Mercedes as Russell sidelined with illness

Mick Schumacher, in his ongoing-but-changed role as Mercedes’ reserve driver for 2024, has hit the ground running, even before the new year rings in. The young Schumacher, following his stint at Magny-Cours for a wet-tyre Pirelli test in the 2023 Mercedes last week, has now stepped in for George Russell, visiting the team’s Brackley and Brixworth factories. While Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff were present, Russell, battling illness, was notably absent.

Frederik Hackbarth of Auto Bild sheds light on Russell’s condition, “The Briton (Russell) has been sick for weeks and had to drag himself through the final races of the season. That’s why he’s taking a break from all obligations for now.” This left an opening for Schumacher to further integrate himself with the Mercedes team.

Despite spending 2023 as Mercedes’ full-time reserve, Schumacher is gearing up for a dual role in 2024, juggling his responsibilities at Mercedes with a return to racing with Alpine in the world endurance championship and Le Mans. His passion for racing is evident in his words, “I’m obviously excited to be racing again with Alpine. I’m a racer, I’ve always been a racer and I’ll be racing again next year because that’s what I love doing. Not racing this year was hard and I’m really happy to be back, fighting. Believe me, I’m still working hard and hopefully I’m taking the step to get back into F1.”

Schumacher’s visits to Brackley and Brixworth this week were more than just formalities. He views them as opportunities to deepen his ties with the team, saying, “I can continue to build relationships with the team here. It’s nice to spend so much time with everyone and get to know them, including people who were here when my father was. It is a very special team and a very special connection that we have.”

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