Ralf Schumacher believes that it's time for Mercedes to look to the future and promote George Russell to prepare for the departure of Lewis Hamilton in the coming years.
Russell is currently a candidate for the second seat at Mercedes alongside Hamilton, an unchanged position ever since he joined Williams in 2019.
Valtteri Bottas retained his seat at Mercedes for 2021, and it appears to be a straight head-to-head between Bottas and Russell over who will partner Hamilton next season.
Hamilton has indicated a desire for Bottas to continue as his teammate, but Schumacher reckons the time has come for Mercedes to look beyond Hamilton and start preparing for when the reigning World Champion departs the sport, ensuring Russell is ready to take over.
Speaking in his column for Sky Sport Germany after the Belgian Grand Prix, Schumacher praised Russell's tremendous qualifying performance to claim second on the grid, a result that secured his maiden F1 podium when the race proved a wash-out on Sunday.
"The surprise runner-up George Russell deserves every point," Schumacher said.
"He drove a great qualifying and rewarded himself with it.
"I think it would be complete mismanagement if you don't try to bring him to Mercedes. You would make a mistake not only for the team, but also for the future."
Hamilton, now 36-years-old, has a contract for another two seasons after 2021, and Schumacher believes these will be imperative to ensure Mercedes are best prepared for if and when he steps down.
"He showed what he can do," Schumacher said.
"Lewis Hamilton won't be driving very long because of his age. For Mercedes, Toto Wolff has the responsibility to think about the future. And I think that the decision has already been made."