The new kid always gets the worst jobs. That's the way it would have seemed if you had wandered into the Sauber Mercedes pit garage on a bright winter's day at Paul Ricard in November 1989. One of the sportscar team's Group C Silver Arrows has clearly had an off and it is the job of a fresh-faced youngster to clean out the gravel that has found its way into every nook and cranny.
Only something isn't quite as it seems. The lad wielding the vacuum cleaner is wearing Nomex, not to mention an expression of acute embarrassment. He's not Sauber's gofer, rather one of its latest influx of Junior racing drivers. The name on his overalls? Michael Schumacher.
This is the first step in one of the most successful programmes ever designed to seek out young talent. The 20-year-old Schumacher is present in France along with fellow German Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Austria's Karl Wendlinger, two of his sparring partners from that year's German F3 series. Mercedes has secretly decided that it is on its way back to Formula One and so is aiming to prep this trio of German speakers for Grand Prix stardom via the defense of its World Sports Prototype Championship in 1990.
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