Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is confident that reserve driver Mick Schumacher will do “a perfect job” in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 2024, which could spark a return to the Formula 1 grid.
Schumacher will compete for Alpine in the WEC next year, in the highly competitive Hypercar class.
The German driver will do this alongside his reserve duties for Mercedes, having done such a good job for the Brackley-based team this year.
He joined Mercedes as their reserve driver at the start of 2023 following his departure from Haas, after the American side opted against offering him a new contract.
Schumacher’s Haas deal expired at the conclusion of 2022 and whilst he scored points at the British Grand Prix and the Austrian Grand Prix, Nico Hulkenberg was given his seat for 2023.
The key reason why Schumacher wasn’t given a contract extension by Haas is because he tended to crash too often, with his big shunts in 2022 in Saudi Arabia and Monaco simply cost the Americans too much.
Some criticised Haas for letting him go, given that he demonstrated at times that he does have the talent and the speed to warrant a seat on the grid.
Wolff clearly believes in Schumacher, otherwise he presumably wouldn’t have offered him the reserve role.
Schumacher keeping the reserve role for a second season will, crucially, keep him in the F1 paddock, somewhere he must be in order to try and find a seat on the grid for 2025.
If he performs well for Alpine in the WEC then there is every chance that he could be on the 2025 F1 grid, with Wolff recognising that competing for the French manufacturer in the endurance series is a “very good opportunity for him”.
“I think him going into WEC, which is a world championship with a constructor, with Alpine, is a very good opportunity for him,” Wolff told Mercedes’ F1 2023 review show.
“I believe he’s going to do a perfect job and it keeps him sharp, racing, and maybe coming back into Formula 1.”
Schumacher received praise throughout 2023 from Wolff, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell for the number of hours he put in on the simulator, which had an instrumental impact on the team’s performance at the British GP in particular.