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Formula 1: Mick Schumacher is running out of time

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Formula 1: Mick Schumacher is running out of time

On Saturday, Formula 1 starts its 75th season with the Bahrain Grand Prix. Mick Schumacher will also be behind the wheel again. However, not in the Kingdom of Bahrain, but in neighboring Qatar. While Max Verstappen & Co. duel for the first victory of the new season of the premier class of motorsport, the German is celebrating his debut for Alpine in the “WEC”, the endurance series of the world association Fia.

A stone’s throw. The “Bahrain International Circuit” and the “Lusail International Circuit” in Qatar are only around 90 kilometers apart as the crow flies – and yet the Germans and the premier class of motorsport are currently worlds apart. Far from where he should be in his self-perception. Schumacher sees his future in Formula 1.

The present is different. For Schumacher, this is the second season in which he is not a regular driver for one of the ten racing teams in the premier class of motorsport. As in 2023, the young driver is a test and reserve driver at Mercedes. The best possible alternative to keep a foot in the racing series. But the task is far from complete.

Mick Schumacher is fighting for a place in Formula 1

Source: dpa/Bradley Collyer

But Michael Schumacher’s son doesn’t have much time to return to the racing series in which his father became a legend with seven world titles. Schumacher and those around him know themselves: If a cockpit doesn’t work out in 2025, the Formula 1 chapter will probably be closed. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told WELT: “For Mick it’s about getting a cockpit for the 2025 season. Otherwise – you have to be honest – it will be difficult.”

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Divided opinions about Mick Schumacher

The competition is great, the number of possible cockpits is small. Teams like Red Bull, which will again be the benchmark this season with world champion Verstappen ahead of Ferrari, and Mercedes are one size too big. Realistic options are Alpine, where the contracts of both drivers expire at the end of the year and for which the German will compete in the “WEC”, and Williams. However, the British racing team decided against signing Schumacher before this season.

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The Formula 1 paddock is divided in its opinion of the German. While many experts see Schumacher as simply too slow and prone to errors, there are just as many who believe he will have a solid career in the racing series in the right environment. This also includes Mercedes team boss Wolff. “Mick and I were at a very similar age when we lost all or some of our father figure. This is very dramatic for a young person. I believe that Mick has the talent for Formula 1 and deserves a place as a regular driver. But the environment also has to be right for this. I think that if Michael had been there, Mick would still have a cockpit,” the Austrian explains to WELT.

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Exceptionally, compatriot Dr. Helmut Marko has the same opinion. The motorsport boss of Red Bull and Wolff are actually long-term rivals, but Marko also believes that Schumacher would still be a regular driver in Formula 1 if the environment was right: “Michael (Schumacher, d. Red.) was the most successful driver of all time in his time and was incredibly good at analysis. When you have someone like that in your corner, it’s obviously a big plus.”

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It was Marko himself who sent Schumacher on a forced break. Even before Schumacher’s exit from Haas was decided at the end of 2022, there was contact with “Racing Bulls F1”. The Italian team, which competed under the name Alpha Tauri at the time and is part of the Red Bull Group, was interested in the German’s services. Especially Franz Tost.

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“I vetoed”

The team boss at the time, who had world champions like Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen through their school and who were shaped by the Austrian into the stars they later became, wanted to take Schumacher under his wing. Tost recognized the potential that undoubtedly lies in the young pilot. But there was no change – because of a veto. Dr. Helmut Marko, motorsport boss at Red Bull and therefore also from the sister team of the world champion racing team, lodged an objection.

“I vetoed it because I wanted to stay true to our path, the Red Bull DNA. Since we joined Formula 1, we have continually focused on talent. When Mick was an option, he had already driven for Haas for two years and was still under contract with Ferrari,” explains Dr. Marko told WELT. Instead, he pushed through his dream driver against Tost and also Red Bull’s team boss Christian Horner: Nyck de Vries.

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Curious: The Dutchman was already 27 years old at the time and had been a Mercedes driver for a long time, for which he won Formula E, among other things. For Dr. Marko still had no problem: “Nyck wasn’t an ordinary rookie due to his advanced age for a racing driver and the world championship title in Formula E, but he was new to Formula 1. Before he drove for Alpha Tauri, he only had one Grand Prix appearance (short-term replacement for the ill Albon in Monza 2022, editor). That’s why we chose him. Unfortunately, it couldn’t meet our expectations at all.”

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No championship point, several self-inflicted accidents and beginner driving mistakes led to de Vries losing his cockpit after just ten races. But Schumacher wasn’t an option there either. Also because he was already under contract with Mercedes as a test and reserve driver. A situation that continues to this day.

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