Mick Schumacher made his test debut with Mercedes today, just over 10 years on from his father’s last test drive with the team.Circuit de Catalunya to trial slick tyres from Pirelli that are in development for 2024.
The tyres are intended to work without requiring pre-heating with tyre warmers before going on the car. Pirelli will continue to test the blanket-free tyres this year, with other teams getting opportunities to gain experience of them after the summer break.
Schumacher was out for the second day of the test, taking over driving duties from George Russell who tried the tyres yesterday. Ferrari was also in action at the circuit today, Carlos Sainz Jnr having taken over from Charles Leclerc who drove for them on the first day.
In total 152 laps were set by Schumacher and 147 by Sainz on Wednesday, with the latter setting the fastest lap of the test. His 1’16.638 benchmark was 2.336 seconds faster than Schumacher’s best lap.
“It was great. I learned a lot and it was a lot of fun,” said Schumacher. “It was a very productive day; we got through everything we wanted to and ran every test tyre on the plan. It was also good to have that first experience of the tyres without any blankets. Obviously having not driven in a while, I felt it physically, but it was good to be back in the driving seat.”
“This experience will definitely benefit me in my role. I have a better understanding of what to look out for and what to work on. I also have a better understanding of all the procedures and how the team works trackside. That would be a key factor in case I ever have to jump in and race.”
Mercedes’ regular drivers Lewis Hamilton and Russell praised Schumacher’s simulator work for making a double podium possible for the team at Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
“We’ve got a great team with Mick back at the simulator on Friday night, and he did some great, great work which helped us get on the right track on Saturday,” Hamilton said post-race.
“The work that Mick and the simulator team are doing overnight, they were there till well past midnight to help us with the set up and get it in a good window for the race today,” added Russell.
On the difference between the simulator model of the Mercedes W14 and the real thing, Schumacher said: “There will always be a difference as the technology is not at a point where you can compare it 100%. However, it is the closest experience I’ve had between a simulator and real life. The simulator has prepared me, and the team has made a great effort of correlating it. That helped me to know what to expect when driving it.”
“It was great to drive the new update package. Of course I hadn’t driven the launch package so I couldn’t make that direct comparison. From all the communications I’ve heard from the drivers though, I could feel and agreed with a lot of their comments when driving today. It was very straightforward.”
Schumacher’s father Michael had a long history with Mercedes. He was part of their junior driver development programme and World Sports-Prototype championship team in the nineties.
At the end of his F1 career Schumacher raced for Mercedes from 2010 to 2012, and the year after did some promotional runs for the team. His last outing was in May 2013, when he did a demonstration lap of the Nurburgring’s full Norschleife layout in Mercedes’ 2011 car. He suffered serious brain injuries in a skiing crash seven months later.
Pirelli tyre test day two in pictures
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