F1 still the target for Mick Schumacher ahead of his WEC debut
Mick Schumacher starts a new chapter with Renault-owned Alpine in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) this month but getting back to Formula One remains the German's main target.
The 24-year-old former Haas driver is reserve for Mercedes, ready to step in if seven-times champion Lewis Hamilton or George Russell are unable to race.
“If there is a necessity for me to be in a Formula One car and there’s a (WEC) race weekend at the same time then obviously Formula One has priority,” Schumacher, son of F1 great Michael, told Reuters.
“Mercedes has always been very supportive of me going into this position ... to stay sharp and, if the opportunity arises, that I am 100% in the right mood and position mentally as well as physically to take on the challenge thrown at me.”
Schumacher spent two seasons with Haas before losing his seat. He sat out last year while doing simulator work for Mercedes.
The German's “great work” was heralded by Hamilton and Russell as Mercedes battled to second overall in the championship behind dominant Red Bull.
More than half of the F1 grid are out of contract at the end of the season and there have already been some bombshell moves, with Hamilton moving to Ferrari for 2025 and opening up a coveted seat.
Schumacher said he would take anything available and sensed a general shift that “could be a very positive position for me”.
“I think endurance racing helps my campaign in presenting myself for Formula One. That’s one of the big things,” he added. “I left Formula One on maybe not the highest note and obviously some people saw the potential that I had in it and some people didn’t.
“But hopefully me going to racing again, and showing that I’m able to do whatever it takes in any category, will invite people to think again that I have the potential for Formula One.”
Alpine will be his first time racing a closed-cockpit car but the memories of being driven in a GT3 car by his father, who has not appeared in public since a ski accident in December 2013, were “still very much alive”.
“I’m just excited being back in a racing environment, because that’s what I’ve missed and that’s what I’ve loved since I was a kid,” said the 2020 Formula Two champion.
“And not having had it last year was very awkward, very different. So being in a position where you have to again go into yourself, analyse what is it that I need to be faster, what do I need to do to be faster? ... I’m just excited to be back behind the wheel.”
The visit to Alpine's Enstone factory closed another circle, with Michael starting out in sports cars and winning the first two of his seven F1 titles with the Benetton team that became Renault and is now Alpine.
“I’m sure that somewhere here there are some footprints of my dad,” said Mick.
The WEC season starts in Qatar with a prologue on February 24-25 and the opening Qatar 1812 race on March 2.