Alpine WEC's F1 links 'an interesting factor' for Schumacher


Mick Schumacher has admitted that Alpine's strong links to Formula 1 was a key factor in his decision to drive for their World Endurance Championship team in 2024.

The 24-year-old son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher made his F1 debut with Haas in Bahrain at the start of 2021, going on to compete in 43 races before being dropped by the team at the end of 2022.

Haas principal Guenther Steiner decided that Schumacher was too accident-prone and adversely affecting the squad's limited budget, and opted to replace him with the more experienced Nico Hulkenberg.

Schumacher kept his hopes of making a Formula 1 return of his own by taking the role of reserve driver at Mercedes, meaning that he would be first in line to step in should either Lewis Hamilton or George Russell become unavailable.

But next year he will combine his reserve and development role at Brackley with a return to competition in WEC, driving for the Alpine marque which could potentially give him another potential route back into F1.

"I sorely missed racing this year. It's what I've loved to do since I was a kid," said Schumacher, admitting: "It was sometimes difficult to watch the other drivers take to the track."

Schumacher pointed out that sportscars will be a new experience for him, after a career spent climbing the ranks of open-wheel single-seater championships like F2 and the F3 European Series before making it into F1.

"I've grown up with single-seaters, so driving a car with a closed cockpit and covered wheels is a great opportunity to hone my driving skills," he said. "A new chapter is beginning for me with Alpine."

Mathieu Vaxiviere (FRA) / Julien Canel (FRA) / Charles Milesi (FRA) #36 Alpine Elf Team Oreca 07 - Gibson. 10.09.2023. FIA World Endurance Championship, Round 6, Six Hours of Fuji, Fuji, Japan, Sunday. -, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

Along with Ferrari, Alpine is one of only two WEC teams with counterparts in F1, so this puts him on the radar at Enstone should an opening occur with current full-time drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon.

“I think definitely the link to Formula 1 is an interesting factor,” he told the media this week, confirming that it had been a consideration when he was making his plans for 2024.

“The whole position that we're able to take in with Mercedes - being the reserve driver there - while having the WEC position with Alpine but also that Alpine is in F1, I feel like that set-up is a good deal."

A big difference between F1 and endurance racing is that cars are shared between a number of drivers, making the result more of a team effort than a stand-out individual turn.

Frenchmen Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere, Charles Milesi and Paul-Loup Chatin and Austrian Ferdinand Habsburg will also be racing for Alpine in the new season.

Mick Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Reserve Driver at a team photograph. 23.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Preparation Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

But Schumacher is convinced that if he can deliver strong performances in WEC, they will still be noticed nonetheless.

“Everybody out there - and I feel like also F1, in some sense - will be having have a look at individual drivers' performances still," he noted. "It will be referred back to F1 in that sense, or to other teams out there.”

"Ultimately you always have to contribute to be able to get the best out of the team and thge car," he insisted. "It's not like, ‘Okay, I'm with these drivers [team mates] so I can relax.'

“People will still recognise if you do a job that is exceptionally good."

The World Endurance Championship - which includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans held in June - consists of eight races beginning in March in Qatar and finishing in November in Bahrain.

Recent winners at Le Mans have included other familiar faces from the world of F1 such as Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg, Antonio Giovinazzi, Sébastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley.

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