Schumacher’s old teams, Ferrari and Mercedes, show support

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Ferrari and Mercedes, who both worked with seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher over the course of his career, have each issued statements wishing their former driver well.

It was at Ferrari that Schumacher (pictured, from 2004) claimed five consecutive World Championships from 2000 to 2004 and became the most dominant driver of his era.

Following his first retirement in 2006, Schumacher would eventually return to the sport with Mercedes for a three-year run from 2010 to 2012 before leaving F1 for a second time.

“Everyone at Ferrari has been in a state of anxiety since hearing about Michael Schumacher’s accident,” said the Scuderia’s statement from Maranello. “That includes the president, Luca di Montezemolo, who through the Scuderia team principal Stefano Domenicali is in constant contact with the family and those close to the German champion.

“Montezemolo has offered his encouragement and support at this very difficult time, with the hope that better news will come soon.”

In its own statement, Mercedes said its team was “shocked” to learn of the severe injuries sustained by Schumacher in a skiing accident Sunday in France.

Schumacher remains in critical condition and is in an induced coma at a hospital in the French city of Grenoble.

“Following the serious injuries sustained by Michael Schumacher in a skiing accident yesterday in France, the thoughts and sympathies of all at Mercedes-Benz Motorsport and the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team are with Michael, his family and friends,” the statement said.

“We have been shocked to learn that he is in a critical condition and are closely monitoring the latest medical bulletins from Grenoble. We all know the depth of Michael’s fighting spirit and send him all our strength and support in this latest battle. We sincerely hope that he will make a full recovery and will be with us again soon.”

Robert Wickens in the Indy 500? Bryan Herta making plans to field a car for next year

Robert Wickens Indy 500
Brett Farmer/LAT Images/IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indy 500 as early as 2024 – a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He’s worked as a driver coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since, but last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener at Daytona) driving a Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is fitted for Wickens to race strictly through hand controls. Herta said Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the biggest race in the world has slowed the project he’s determined to do with Wickens.

‘I’M AS HUNGRY AS EVER’: Robert Wickens’ return to racing

“I’d love to take Robbie back to Indy because I know he could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”

Herta said Honda has been supportive of the process, which Herta called “one of the most important things we’ve done in racing” last year.

“We actually looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, it just wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “That’s not something you can rush. There’s some things that we have to work very closely with IndyCar on, and things we just have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see a path to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned widely. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That’d be fun,” he said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort has to be both done correctly and be competitive.

“We’d like to do it right. If we started right now, can we get a car ready for the open test in April? Probably,” Wickens told The AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get on proper simulators to make sure its correct.

“We all want to do a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens later tweeted about the possibility of racing the Indy 500 and said his goal was “always to get back to the top level of motorsport” whether it’s IndyCar or IMSA.

Wickens in 2021 did a demonstration in Canada that marketed advancements for paralyzed drivers and gave him a chance to again drive. His entire life had been upended 14 races into his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning top rookie honors at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens has since married, returned to racing last year and welcomed the birth of his first child, an son named Wesley whom is infatuated with both race cars and the trip to Disney he took this week during the off days at Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who uses a wheelchair but can stand with some support, marks a full year back racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Despite success last season, Herta made changes to his lineups and Wickens this year will be teamed with Harry Gottsacker.