Mercedes is embarking on the quest for a replacement for Lewis Hamilton in the upcoming season, while Mick Schumacher asserts that his primary focus remains firmly on Formula 1.
Just a fortnight ago, Mercedes had been confident that their driver lineup for the 2024 and 2025 seasons was settled after re-signing Hamilton and George Russell back in August.
However, during a breakfast meeting last Wednesday, Hamilton stunned team principal Toto Wolff with the news of his departure at the end of the current season.
Subsequently, Mercedes confirmed the swirling speculation that Hamilton would be joining Ferrari for the next season under a multi-year agreement.
The scramble to fill Hamilton’s shoes has already commenced. While Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz are reportedly frontrunners, according to F1 analysts, Schumacher’s name has also emerged due to his association with Mercedes as their official reserve driver.
Schumacher, who will be competing in the World Endurance Championship with Alpine this season alongside his Mercedes commitments, acknowledges his desire to return to the F1 grid but suggests it’s still early days.
Speaking at the Alpine A524 launch, he stated, “Obviously, it kind of hit everybody as a shock – and so it did to me. But on the other hand, everybody has to do what feels right to them.
“What is going to happen in the next year or weeks is still to be revealed and also for me. So I’m just excited to see what happens to see in the future.”
He continued, “My eye is definitely still pretty much on Formula 1. Because there is now a lot of excitement in the driver market, it could be that one or two doors will open.”
When pressed about the possibility of him taking the Mercedes seat for the next year, he avoided a direct response, saying, “On that topic, I didn’t really think much.
We’re obviously here at Alpine for the launch of the car, and what’s going to come in the next, we will have to see.”
Although Schumacher’s primary aspiration was Formula 1 following his departure from Haas at the end of the 2022 season, his stint as Mercedes reserve driver has led him to consider alternative options.
He disclosed discussions with Alpine’s vice president, Bruno Famin, as early as 2023, eventually leading to his involvement in Alpine’s World Endurance Championship program for 2024.
Reflecting on his decision, Schumacher expressed enthusiasm for the upcoming season, stating, “It just really sparked that flame in me to want to go and race here, so I’m happy to be here and I guess the feeling is kind of mutual.”