Motorsport classic: The bitter Le Mans debut for Mick Schumacher

Motorsport classic: The bitter Le Mans debut for Mick Schumacher

Motorsport classic The bitter Le Mans debut for Mick Schumacher

An engine failure put a stop to Mick Schumacher’s plans in Le Mans. Photo

© Bradley Collyer/Press Association/dpa

It was not meant to end like that. Instead of continuing to push hard with his teammates, Mick Schumacher was already back in the plane. An engine defect stopped both Alpines. But there were also positives.

During the drivers’ parade, Mick Schumacher blew kisses to the almost 300,000 spectators with a broad grin and full of anticipation. However, the 25-year-old racing driver’s debut at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans ended much sooner than expected.

“We didn’t get past the six-hour mark,” said the son of Formula 1 record world champion Michael Schumacher.

The fastest of the six Alpine drivers

The father, now 55 years old, finished fifth in 1991 in his only appearance at one of motorsport’s greatest classics. His son Mick did not finish – through no fault of his own. At 4 p.m., France’s football icon Zinédine Zidane gave the go-ahead for the race, with Nicolas Lapierre in the Schumacher team’s car. The Frenchman had managed to finish ninth in qualifying and handed the car over to Mick Schumacher in the race.

He completed 33 laps and drove the best lap time of the six Alpine drivers up to the time of his retirement. Mick Schumacher reached a top speed of 340.19 kilometers per hour.

His personal stint was very positive, emphasised Mick Schumacher. “I am very, very happy about it.” Internally, his performance was also viewed with favour. Through his involvement in the World Endurance Championship, he hopes to increase his chances of returning to Formula 1. And at least one cockpit at the Alpine Formula 1 team will be filled by a new driver next year.

Team boss: “Double failure is cruel”

But when an engine fails, the drivers are also helpless, whether in Formula 1 or the World Endurance Championship. After the first Alpine A424 was unable to continue at 8:46 p.m., the second, with Lapierre at the wheel, failed 50 minutes later at 9:36 p.m. “Heartbreaking. No words,” the team wrote on social media. “The double failure is cruel, even though we knew that reliability could be a problem,” said team boss Philippe Sinault.

Instead of doing more laps at night and enjoying the unique atmosphere of the cult race on Sunday, Mick Schumacher got on the plane before midday. Despite the disappointment, the positive things outweighed the negative, such as the very good speed until the failure, his own performance in the demanding race and: “I think we have grown together as a team.”

Back in the F1 paddock next weekend

After all, it was only the fourth time Mick Schumacher had used the new car and the fourth race in the World Endurance Championship. And he showed strong performances, especially in internal comparisons.

“I would also like to thank the entire Alpine Group and especially the Renault Group for bringing me here,” he said after the early exit at Le Mans. “The Alpine Endurance Team has been so good to me in these first three races and has prepared me for this one big race. I really appreciate that.”

There is still a little time until the next WEC race, which continues on July 14 with the Six Hours of São Paulo in Brazil. However, Mick Schumacher will be back on the road for Mercedes next weekend. He will take on his role as test and reserve driver at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

He has had the job since he retired as a regular driver in the premier class of motorsport. In 2021 and 2022 he drove for the American Haas team, but was replaced by compatriot Nico Hülkenberg for the 2023 season.

dpa

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