Mick Schumacher’s final shot as the Alpine crisis unfolds

Mick Schumacher could see the turmoil and slump at Alpine as his golden opportunity to make a comeback in Formula 1. Alpine’s French drivers, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, are nearing the end of their contracts by this year’s close, amidst speculation of their departure from the underperforming team.

The Alpine team, with its roots in Enstone and Viry, has encountered significant setbacks with its 2024 car, notably launching a model that trails its 2023 predecessor by a tenth of a second in speed, as reported by Auto Motor und Sport. This is a unique scenario where a team has regressed in performance at the season’s start.

Recent upheavals in management and ownership at Alpine have sparked rumors, especially after Renault CEO Luca de Meo was seen at the Saudi Arabia race, suggesting he might consider selling the team. Tobias Gruner, a correspondent, noted, “There are enough interested parties,” hinting at potential buyers.

Amid these challenges, there’s talk of Alpine’s leadership, including Bruno Famin, facing changes. Promoted to team principal from an interim role only a few weeks ago, Famin might find his position in jeopardy. He remarked on the fast-paced nature of Formula 1, saying, “In Formula 1, everything happens so quickly,” and humorously added, “You’re actually always the interim team boss.”

The team’s power unit is currently the weakest on the grid, compounded by an overweight car, which had to add 10 kilograms following initial failures in mandatory FIA crash tests. Famin defended this by stating, “Other teams didn’t pass at the first attempt either,” and argued that passing tests easily suggests not pushing the limits enough.

Famin highlighted that the drivers’ main complaint is the car’s lack of traction, which he believes can be improved by increasing downforce. He confidently said, “We have already laid the foundations on the mechanical side,” and is looking forward to enhancing downforce, with promising developments on the horizon.

The challenge remains whether these improvements will convince Ocon and Gasly to stay beyond 2024. Famin expressed a desire to retain them, saying, “We are in no hurry on the driver question, but we would like to extend our current duo. They are our first choice.”

However, Mick Schumacher, previously with Haas, now aims to rehabilitate his career through Alpine’s endurance championship and Le Mans endeavors. Gunther Steiner, who previously let Schumacher go from Haas, believes 2025 might be Schumacher’s final shot at returning to F1. Steiner told Bild, “If it doesn’t work out next year, it will probably never work out again,” emphasizing the challenge Schumacher faces after potentially spending three years out of F1. He advises the German to excel in the WEC this season as a potential bridge back to F1.

Steiner concluded with thoughts on the uncertain F1 driver market, suggesting, “We will see how the driver market in Formula 1 develops,” and noted, “It is not yet clear whether anyone will quit.”

GMM

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