Helmut Marko put a stop to Mick Schumacher joining AlphaTauri for “personal reasons, whatever it may be”, that’s according to the F1 driver’s uncle Ralf Schumacher.
Schumacher was dropped by Haas on the eve of last year’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the timing meaning only one team – AlphaTauri – still had a seat open for this year’s championship.
Schumacher was, at least according to his uncle, on team boss Franz Tost’s shortlist as he wanted a driver with some experience.
Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport advisor, blocked the move.
“Franz Tost, as the team manager and team principal, initially wanted a different driver because he knows that it takes two to three years [to get new drivers up to speed],” Schumacher revealed in an interview with Formel1.de.
“The driver available on the market was Mick. Mick would have made sense as well.
“But then Dr. Helmut Marko came along and, for personal reasons or whatever it may be, didn’t want that and chose Nyck de Vries instead.”
De Vries, though, has yet to fire with the 28-year-old crashing several times while he’s yet to balance the books by scoring even one point for his team.
It had some pundits suggesting Schumacher could make a comeback with AlphaTauri with the German replacing the under-fire Dutchman, who Marko says is on a “yellow card”.
Marko was quick to put an end to those rumours.
Declaring the driver still has time to prove himself to his team bosses, the 80-year-old added: “If the worst came to the worst, we would fall back on our pool of young talent. It’s specifically about Liam Lawson and Ayumu Iwasa.”
Ralf reckons Marko may even have a grudge against the family surname.
“It seems that Helmut Marko has a problem with the Schumacher name,” he stated.
“Even though I have a good exchange with him personally, it seems he has some problem with Mick because otherwise, it’s not understandable to me why it didn’t work out from the beginning.”
The 47-year-old firmly believes his nephew would do a better job than the two juniors Marko named, Lawson and Iwasa.
“To be honest, I don’t see anyone else in the [Red Bull] squad who would fit in there at the moment,” he said. “That’s why I’m surprised by what Dr. Helmut Marko is doing.”
Last season Marko said no to signing Schumacher because of his Ferrari connection, telling Sport Bild: “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.
“Especially since our reserve driver has to participate in many sponsored events in the United States. Ricciardo is, therefore, the right person with his profile and his image.”
But even having parted ways with Ferrari, the German still didn’t get a look in.
Schumacher meanwhile has been told by former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone that “he has to forget this dream, because sooner or later we all wake up from a dream.
“He has to forget that and start thinking about what the alternative is and try to pursue that,” he told RTL.