Franz Tost believes the future of Formula 1 in Germany depends on Mick Schumacher and reveals he wanted the young German at AlphaTauri.
Nowhere more than in Germany is the name Schumacher synonymous with Formula 1. Mick’s father, Michael, went from local hero to international superstar and all-time great and although his son only present failed to reach such lofty heights, there is still great interest in his career.
As to how that interest will play out in 2023, with Schumacher out of full-time training, remains to be seen, but his departure coincides with an apparent cooling of interest in the country’s sport.
Last German winner Sebastian Vettel left, as did Schumacher, in a third driver role at Mercedes, leaving podium-less Nico Hulkenberg the only representative of a country that has won 179 victories in the past.
German audiences may even become unable to watch sport with Sky Germany struggling to find a new free-to-air TV channel after RTL refused to extend its contract.
Although Austrian, Tost spent a lot of time in Germany, including at BMW in the early 2000s, and believes the unease is not limited to Formula 1.
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“Germany is spoiled,” he told Auto Bild. “You can even feel it in football. I am convinced that the lack of interest in the last World Cup also has something to do with the poor results of the national team.
“Had they reached the final, half of Germany would have followed the games in Qatar as well. One thing is certain: people need heroes, and they need flesh and blood, not metal.
Returning to Formula 1, Tost said he believed Hulkenberg’s presence alone was not enough to sustain the country’s interest in the sport and said he believed the future of German F1 rested on Schumacher’s shoulders.
“Mick’s career determines interest in Germany,” the AlphaTauri boss said. “Nico Hülkenberg cannot do it alone.
“They [the German public] wanted to see Michael Schumacher win at the time and not Mercedes’ engine or car. Only heroes trigger a boom. As Michael Schumacher showed.
“The second example is Boris Becker. Before him, interest in tennis was more reserved for wealthy citizens. That changed abruptly with the success of Boris and Steffi Graf. Suddenly, all the children wanted to play tennis.
“He could have become the new hero, but unfortunately he is no longer in Formula 1 at the moment. It’s a shame.”
Tost also revealed that he wanted the former Haas rider at AlphaTauri, but the team ultimately settled on Nyck de Vries.
“I would have liked to see him at AlphaTauri, not because of his name, but because I believe in his talent and his abilities.
“Because you don’t just win the Formula 3 and Formula 2 championships. But unfortunately it didn’t work out in the end.