Esteban Ocon’s role in Mick Schumacher’s Alpine test revealed

Michelle Foster
Mercedes reserve Mick Schumacher smiling.

Mick Schumacher has spent the year at Mercedes.

Having tested Alpine’s A424 hypercar at Jerez, Bruno Famin says there is “no reason” why Mick Schumacher cannot be successful in the World Endurance Championship.

Without a Formula 1 race seat for next season, Schumacher admitted earlier this year that he evaluating “Plan B”.

While he didn’t give any details at the time, it has since emerged that Plan B is Alpine and endurance racing with Toto Wolff having opened the door for him to dovetail that along with Mercedes reserve driver commitments.

Mick Schumacher’s Alpine test ‘went well’

As such the 24-year-old climbed into the cockpit of Alpine’s brand-new A424 hypercar, putting in the laps at the Jerez circuit on Tuesday.

But while Alpine’s interim team boss Bruno Famin wouldn’t go into the finer details, he did tell Sport1 that the “test went well.

“But it wasn’t about pure speed, but about getting to know each other. For him, this kind of car and the team. For us, to see how he does.”

And clearly, Schumacher did something right as the Frenchman went on to say he sees “no reason” Schumacher cannot successfully transition from single-seater racing to endurance racing.

“I don’t think it’s a problem. I remember Nico Hulkenberg, for example, who won as a rookie in 2015 (Le Mans), Alexander Wurz and others had already achieved that before,” he said.

“Of course, Mick has been a pure single-seater driver so far, but he is a very fast and clever boy. I am sure he has all the skills to become a good long-distance driver because he is a good driver.

“So there’s no reason why he can’t be successful if something happens between us.”

That, though, doesn’t necessarily mean any WEC success may have in the years to come will be with Alpine as right now the talks are still ongoing with nothing concrete in place.

“At the moment nothing has happened in this regard. The test was simply to get to know each other better and see whether we would continue to talk to each other,” said Famin.

“Now we have to wait for his feedback as to whether he would be happy to do something with us. And then you can look at the exact framework condition.”

Schumacher, though, isn’t the only driver under consideration with the team also interested in putting Jack Doohan amongst others in the car.

“These guys are among the potential candidates, but we are looking at a lot of drivers,” revealed Famin. “There is no rush, we are not putting ourselves under any pressure. Theoretically, we have until the end of February.” recommends

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The role Esteban Ocon played in Schumacher’s Alpine test

Should Schumacher join Alpine’s Le Mans team, he’ll have his good friend Esteban Ocon to thank for that as it was the Frenchman who suggested he approach Famin after Schumacher expressed an interest in endurance racing.

“The two of them are good friends and Esteban says good things about us. When Mick showed interest in long-distance racing, Esteban of course said that maybe it could work together,” Philippe Sinault, team leader at Alpine’s operational operations team Signatech, said.

“As far as this test is concerned, Esteban was logically not involved. Mick met Bruno Famin in Zandvoort on the sidelines of the Formula 1 race and told him that he might be interested.

“Bruno then told him that we were ready for a test with him if he wanted to have a first impression – and that’s what happened now. It was good, but I don’t know if it was there is a next step. At least now he knows what to expect.”

Sinault says Alpine will now evaluate the German along with the other candidates, revealing speed is not all they’ll be looking at.

“With Mick, for example, to be very clear and transparent, there are no doubts about his abilities, the driving level, and the performance, which is great,” he said.

“But it will be about his attitude, that he is open-minded and willing to adapt in terms of working with his team-mates, sharing everything, sometimes sacrificing his best laps and so on.”

“We are not looking for a superstar, but a long-distance driver – and that is a difficult job because sometimes we have to ask him to deliberately slow down to save fuel or tyres.

“A single-seater driver is used to always pushing. But this is about the mindset, the approach, and the team spirit. You always have to make compromises, it’s just something different.”

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