Christian Danner sees F1 chance for Mick Schumacher! Will the Alpine shootout decide his career?

With the end of Esteban Ocon’s contract with Alpine at the end of this year’s season, another coveted seat for the 2025 Formula 1 season will become vacant. At a time when Alpine seems to be fighting its way out of the performance swamp and is feeling the wind in its sails again, this place in Formula 1 is likely to have become even more attractive. The French racing team is holding a test day on Wednesday before the British GP, which will be attended by Mick Schumacher, who will be racing for Alpine in the WEC, and Alpine junior Jack Doohan.

Alpine shootout: Schumacher vs. Doohan in the battle for Formula 1 future

“This is de facto a shootout,” says Formula 1 expert Christian Danner in the latest edition of the ‘AvD Motorsport Magazine’ after the Spanish GP. “Even though everyone will deny it again, of course.” The former racing driver is certain that the test is not just to keep in practice, but that the findings from the test day will have a significant influence on the driver decision for next year. “The person who comes out on top will be in the race for second place alongside Pierre Gasly. And that’s why it will be incredibly exciting,” said Danner.

Through such test drives, the racing teams create a transparent driver, as the former Formula 1 driver explains: “Afterwards, they know exactly what the drivers can do, how the drivers drive and who does what, when and how on the track. Regardless of whether it is about protecting the tires or choosing the line or handling the vehicle at the limit. All of this becomes visible. And that is why the team will most likely opt for the best-looking solution.”

But who does the expert think will come out on top: Schumacher or Doohan? “I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Mick. I think it’s entirely possible, almost likely, that he’ll show Jack Doohan a little bit of the ropes,” is Danner’s assessment. According to Danner, it’s extremely important for Schumacher to show good form on the test day – not only to position himself as a promising candidate for the place at Alpine, but also to potentially put himself in the running for other teams such as Williams. Because Danner knows: “If you drive in Formula 1 and show that you can do it well and quickly, you simply have a better chance.”

Alpine driver Pierre Gasly
Will Mick Schumacher be in the Alpine F1 car next year?, Photo: LAT Images

Danner: Carlos Sainz has the better cards for Alpine cockpit

Pierre Gasly sees expert Christian Danner as a permanent fixture at Alpine. “He’s doing a very, very good job. He’s a man, a Frenchman, who has fought loyally and in solidarity with the team. So I think it’s very likely that he’ll stay.

As a result, there is still one free seat at Alpine, for which there are even more high-caliber candidates, apart from Schumacher or Doohan. For example, Carlos Sainz. Alpine could also be an alternative for the Ferrari driver, who has to give up his seat at the Scuderia to Lewis Hamilton next year. “If Carlos Sainz decides that Alpine might be his ’emergency solution’, then Mick is in trouble again,” says Danner. Because he suspects that for a team boss who always wants to achieve the best possible result, Sainz is the more interesting option compared to the two young drivers.

Danner sees Sainz’s most convincing selling point in his experience: “The one [Doohan; Anm. d. Red.] has not driven anything yet. The other [Schumacher; Anm. d. Red.] had a mixed start in Formula 1. And Sainz is of course a man who comes from the top, who brings everything, who has the know-how and can fight. He has many, many years of experience. So he has the better cards.”

“I wouldn’t say that it’s completely out of the question that Mick has a chance to drive there. He’s a very good man and he definitely deserves a chance,” is Danner’s conclusion about Mick Schumacher’s chances. However, even the expert would lack the insight into the background to make a final assessment of Alpine’s choice of driver.

Carlos Sainz’s next stop: Alpine, Audi, Williams or Red Bull?

The Alpine seat is not ruled out for Schumacher for one reason: Although Sainz may be the first choice at Alpine, Alpine is not necessarily the Spaniard’s first choice. Sauber and Audi respectively have been toying with the idea of ​​signing Carlos Sainz alongside Nico Hülkenberg from 2025. In the recent past, team boss James Vowles has openly suggested that Carlos Sainz could take the Williams cockpit.

Should Sainz choose Williams or Alpine instead of the – If the – as we hear – financially strong – future Audi factory team decides, this would hit the German car manufacturer hard, as Danner emphasises: “I mean, that would mean that he has no confidence in the team at all up to now. That would be the first slap in the face. The second blow is for the future with Audi. He obviously wants to continue to maneuver and does not see the Audi solution as the best option, otherwise he could have signed there already. So there is certainly a little scepticism towards the team and the engine manufacturer Audi.”

Danner finds it difficult to judge what influences Sainz’s hesitant attitude towards Sauber/Audi – whether he receives inside information about the progress of the project in Neuburg an der Donau from his father Carlos Sainz senior, who drove for Audi in the Dakar Rally, or whether he is guided by impressions from the team in the Formula 1 paddock. For the expert, however, it shows clearly: “There is still a great deal of skepticism towards the project in the paddock.”

Winner Carlos Sainz Jr. (Ferrari) on the podium
Alpine, Audi, Williams – everyone wants Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, Photo: LAT Images

Sainz in connection with Alpine, Sauber, Williams – the impression could quickly arise that the Spaniard is the loser of the Silly Season. Danner, however, objects that it is also about the demands Sainz himself makes: “I am sure that if he had signed a one-year contract with Mercedes, he could drive there. But do I want to sign a one-year contract in my position as Carlos Sainz? Where does it lead after that? What will there be to drive in the following year? Difficult case.”

The role of Red Bull Junior Team and Max Verstappen should not be neglected on the F1 driver market: “I think the whole driver market is so unpredictable because Verstappen is still in the game. It is not certain that he will stay at Red Bull. He is also a candidate for Mercedes. Will there be a Red Bull [für Sainz; Anm. d. Red.]?” The expert Christian Danner therefore expects a lot of dynamism in the upcoming driver transfers.

“Everything is still very unclear. So, yes, at first glance Sainz is the loser. But maybe he’ll have a bit of luck and an opportunity will open up that he wouldn’t otherwise be able to take advantage of. We’ll have to wait and see,” the F1 expert concludes.

Mick Schumacher’s comeback is still pending. Instead, another old acquaintance has officially returned to the Formula 1 circuit: Flavio Briatore. You can also find out what our expert Christian Danner thinks about this comeback in the new video:

Mick Schumacher, Gasly or Sainz: Who will drive for Alpine in 2025? (26:44 min.)

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