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Alpine: "Underestimated" Schumacher joining WEC LMDh team too good to pass up

The chance to have Formula 1 driver Mick Schumacher as part of the Alpine World Endurance Championship squad was too good to turn down, the marque’s motorsport boss has revealed.

Mick Schumacher, Alpine

Photo by: Alpine

Bruno Famin, vice president of motorsport at the Renault brand, explained that the deal for Mercedes F1 reserve to race the new Alpine A242 LMDh prototype in 2024 announced this week was already in motion before he was given a try-out in the car at Jerez in October.

“Talking in the F1 paddock with Mick, when you are discussing, you don’t defy an opportunity to have him in the team,” said Famin.

“To have the opportunity to have such a good and fast driver, I don’t see why we would miss it.

“I am convinced that in F1 he is underestimated and don’t forget he is Formula 2 champion, Formula 3 champion - he has a lot of very good skills.”

Schumacher, son of seven-time F1 world champion Michael, will help “push the bar higher” at the Alpine Endurance Team run in conjunction with the French Signatech squad, according to Famin.

“He is still a Mercedes reserve driver and he has a very long experience, a very good experience of what is a top-level F1 team: he will bring us some ideas, some methodologies,” he said.

Famin explained that the brief run at Jerez in October was to see if Schumacher liked the car and was happy in the team.

“The test was made for him to learn this kind of car because he has made his career so far with open-wheel cars,” said Famin.

“It was for him to discover the endurance world; it was him to his own mind to know if he would be happy to have a full programme [with Alpine] or not.”

Mick Schumacher, Alpine

Photo by: Alpine

Mick Schumacher, Alpine

Famin stressed that Schumacher’s performance in the A242 was not under review at Jerez. He explained that Alpine’s driver selection had not been an “industrial process” rather a “manual and human process”.

“That is why we didn’t organise a test with five or 10 guys,” he said. “The conclusion we can take from tests is very limited.”

The mindset of the drivers was “at least half as important as pure speed,” according to Famin.

He stressed the importance of the crew of each car working together as a team and that after the Jerez test he had “no doubts about Mick's capacity to share the car with his team-mates”.

Schumacher’s on-going F1 deal will mean he will be available to Mercedes if it needs a stand-in for either Lewis Hamilton or George Russell.

PLUS: Why Schumacher’s year out of racing has been no less busy

“The contract is clear and the agreement with Mick is clear: if he has the opportunity to drive in F1 to replace George or Lewis, he will go to F1,” said Famin.

He added that Alpine would be naming a reserve driver to cover an eventuality at a later date.

Schumacher was announced on Wednesday as part of Alpine’s full line-up for its a pair of A242s on the WEC’s Hypercar class in 2024. He was one of two newcomers to the Alpine/Signatech squad named along with Ferdinand Habsburg.

It also confirmed Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere, Charles Milesi and Paul-Loup Chatin, who have all raced with the team.

The combinations in each of the two cars will be announced in February on the launch of Alpine's 2024 programme.

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