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Wolff disputes Marko’s F1 claims over Schumacher

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has rubbished suggestions from Red Bull’s Helmut Marko that him playing politics derailed a chance for Mick Schumacher to return to a Formula 1 race seat.

Mick Schumacher, Reserve Driver, Mercedes-AMG, with Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Schumacher was signed as a Mercedes reserve for 2023, after losing his race seat with Haas at the end of last year. He has since been singled out for praise by Lewis Hamilton and George Russell for the contribution he has made in the simulator to race weekend progress. 

While delighted with the input that Schumacher is making, Wolff is open that he wants to see the young German find his way back to a full-time drive. 

But the influence of Wolff came under the spotlight recently when Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko suggested that an offer was made by the Mercedes team principal for Schumacher to join AlphaTauri. 

Speaking to German television channel Sport1, Marko claimed that Wolff tried to arrange a meeting with Red Bull CEO Oliver Mintzlaff to discuss the possibility of a move for Schumacher. 

Reflecting on what happened, Marko said: “It was mentioned at a meeting. It's just stupid that Mr. Wolff at the same time openly made politics against us at the FIA ​​​​again. With that, the topic was off the table. 

“Why should we take Schumacher? He is a Mercedes driver, Mr Wolff is responsible for him. 

“If he thinks so highly of him, why not let him drive in his own team or use his influence to get him into a customer team like Williams?” 

Wolff said he is baffled about the attitude others have towards Schumacher, who he thinks has shown his true potential this year after enduring some difficult times at Haas. 

Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull Racing Team Consultant

Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull Racing Team Consultant

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Asked how Mercedes could help Schumacher back to a full-time race seat, Wolff said: “I'm not even sure that we can facilitate, because every time we speak highly on him somebody feels to say something negative.  

“As a little aside, I never spoke to Red Bull leadership about giving Mick a place there the way it was said by Helmut.  

“Wherever I can speak highly and praise Mick, that's what I'm doing. But at the end, it's every team's authority to decide on the drivers.” 

Wolff said that he would have no qualms about putting Schumacher into one of his race seats if either current driver was unavailable. 

“I very much respect our contracts within the team, and whenever you have to take a reserve driver, you have to take a reserve driver,” he said.  

“I think kids are missing out. To be honest, I think he was burned last year.

“You need to provide an environment and framework that is different for every driver and different human beings. And I think whoever gets him will have a very good talent.” 

Wolff says Schumacher’s contribution has been notable this year, but is clear that he would not be averse to losing those gains if the youngster found his way back to the F1 grid. 

“It is great to have a mature, successful and experienced F1 driver supporting us in the sim,” added Wolff. 

Mick Schumacher, Reserve Driver, Mercedes-AMG, in the pit lane

Mick Schumacher, Reserve Driver, Mercedes-AMG, in the pit lane

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“With his feedback, that is of tremendous advantage. At some European grands prix, having him in the sim overnight and providing data for the Saturday is a super advantage for us.  

“On the other side if George or Lewis were to have food poisoning, then we know we have a super guy that will drive the car well.  

“And, as much as I like the situation for the benefit of the team, I would every day of the week prefer that Mick sits in a cockpit and actually races.” 

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