Austrian former racing driver and current team principal of the Scuderia AlphaTauri Formula 1 team Franz Tost has confirmed that he intended to sign former Ferrari junior Mick Schumacher for the 2023 Formula 1 championship.
However, as he recently pointed out in an interview, there was a key reason why such a move could not be finalized. Mick Schumacher drove for Haas during the last two years, but was not offered a contract extension for 2023, which led to the German leaving the Ferrari Driver Academy to sign with Mercedes as a reserve driver for the following season, hoping to return on the grid in 2024.
At that stage AlphaTauri had already confirmed its line-up with Nyck de Vries joining the team in order to replace Pierre Gasly. However, even if the seat at AlphaTauri would still have been available, long-serving team boss Franz Tost pointed out there was another main factor which prevented him from signing Mick Schumacher.
“He was an issue [of conversation] for me, personally,” he explained in a recent interview for German outlet RTL. “I would actually have liked to have Mick in the car. Mick is talented and that he also has what it takes to drive successfully in Formula 1.” – he added.
Yet as he went on to explain, the fact that he was still under contract with the Maranello team’s junior programme represented a stumbling block. Despite the fact that Mick Schumacher was released by Ferrari to have the chance of joining Mercedes as a reserve, Franz Tost feels there were “political reasons” why it couldn’t happen for them.
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That idea is similar to what Helmut Marko previously said regarding Mick Schumacher a few months ago: the Red Bull boss seemed to hint that the Ferrari junior was in fact considered for the race seat at AlphaTauri, or as a reserve for the defending champions, but felt that it was not a likely scenario: “He was never an option for us because he was always part of the Ferrari program. That’s why he was not interesting for us,” explained the Austrian. “Especially since our reserve driver has to participate in many sponsored events in the United States. [Daniel] Ricciardo is therefore the right person with his profile and his image.” – he continued.
While he admitted to being disappointed for not having the opportunity to sign the former Ferrari junior, Franz Tost pointed out that Mick Schumacher’s new Mercedes role will help the young German driver for the future. The Austrian believes the 23-year-old will “learn a great deal” from working alongside Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, and that it will “hopefully bring him back to the starting field at some point”.
Mick Schumacher’s former team principal at Haas, Guenther Steiner, also stated that he is confident Mick’s career will progress well. “Sometimes one step back is two steps forward. He’s put himself in a good position with a team where he has the best chance for a regular cockpit in the future,” he recently said.