Mick Schumacher, with a name deeply etched in legacy, finds himself at the crossroads. After the Haas calamity, the young German now dons the Mercedes reserve cap – but his ambitions are steering away from F1.
With the F1 grid out of vacancies, Schumacher is on the road to Le Mans. His recent test in Jerez, Spain, saw him grappling with a new beast – Alpine’s world endurance prototype for 2024.
Experiencing the behemoth’s embrace, Schumacher mused to Sky Deutschland, “It’s a completely different feeling.” The transformation from agile single-seaters to the weighty, enigmatic prototype brought its fair share of surprises. “The car is quite big, quite heavy,” he remarked, adding the enclosed cockpit initially felt “a bit claustrophobic.”
The prototype’s nuanced details, from subtle tire movement lights to the unfamiliar draft of the cooling system, served as a sensory overload. “It was a bit abstract to sit there and not feel the wind in the normal way,” Schumacher confessed. However, adaptability, a trait seemingly passed down the Schumacher lineage, ensured he grew accustomed “relatively quickly.”
However, raw feelings aside, the objective nature of performance evaluations remained. Schumacher candidly revealed, “Our setup wasn’t optimal.” He highlighted the challenges of adjusting a Le Mans setup to a higher downforce track, leading to a slightly sluggish response. Yet, the diversified racing experience, with aspects like traction control and shared car dynamics, clearly intrigued him. “The car has to last 24 hours. It’s a different challenge,” he asserted.
As the sun set over the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Schumacher’s focus is undivided. Yet, lingering in the background is the unresolved melody of his potential future with Alpine. The harmonization of his Mercedes reserve role and a prospective Alpine partnership seems to be the pivotal note. When prodded about sealing the deal, Schumacher coyly deflected, “We’re in Austin now. The focus is on that.” He hinted at revisiting discussions post-Austin, adding, “We’ll look at everything again and then hopefully have a few options.”