Michael Schumacher has added to the shock value of the news this week by sending off the relevant paperwork to the FIA requesting a super license. The seven-times champion has been asked by Ferrari to make a return to the cockpit to substitute the injured Felipe Massa in Valencia. The consultant at Ferrari hasn’t driven the F60 yet and won’t be able to until Friday Free Practice at the European Grand Pris in late-August. The news, as you can imagine, has heightened interest in the sport.
Felipe Massa continues to make excellent progress at Hungary’s AEK hospital and it has been reported that the Brazilian pilot has been eating well, moving around and joking with his family and friends. However, the recovery time needed for Massa may mean him missing the race at Valencia, and Ferrari need a quality driver to fill the role. If Massa has his way though, there won’t need to be any substitution made.
Felipe continues to improve. He is eating, he was walking around the room, he took a shower in the morning, like a normal person. So that’s good news.
He was joking with his friends and his brother. He was telling us that he heard about the Schumacher news, and he told us: ‘Let’s see if I let him drive the car, because I won’t give up. Dino Altman, Chief Medical Officer – Brazilian Grand Prix..
However, Ferrari do need a back-up plan just in case Massa isn’t quite ready, and the team asked Schumacher if he would be willing to step in. After stating his happiness that Massa was recovering well, Schumacher went on to explain why he agreed to come out of retirement.
I was meeting this afternoon with Stefano Domenicali and Luca di Montezemolo, and together we decided that I will prepare myself to take the place of Felipe.
Though it is true that the chapter of Formula One has been completely closed for me for a long time, it is also true that for loyalty reasons to the team I cannot ignore that unfortunate situation. But as the competitor I am, I also very much look forward to facing this challenge. Michael Schumacher.
The announcement of Schumacher came just hours after the Benetton and Ferrari driver’s manager stated quite categorically that Michael would not return. However, the decision appears to have been made by the man himself, despite the fact that Schumacher has no experience of driving the F60 nor of the Valencia circuit. With a ban on in-season testing, Michael will have to make-do with the simulator and lots of training in the gym to prepare himself.
The decision is not yet 100% final either, as Ferrari want to make sure their former driver is fit enough to race. Earlier in the year, Schumacher took a tumble while racing a motorbike, and the squad want to make sure that there is no chance of any injury becoming aggravated. However, it is almost certain that for the first time, Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher will be racing identical machinery.
Also jubilant at the return of Schumacher is Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 World Champion having never got the opportunity to race Schumacher as the German retired at the end of 2006.
I am excited by the possibility of Michael Schumacher’s return to Formula One assuming it happens, but my thoughts are still with Felipe and his family following his terrible accident in Hungary.
The whole world will be watching his return to the cockpit in Valencia and it will not only be fascinating to see how he readies himself for his grand prix comeback but also an honour and a privilege to race against him for the very first time. I wish him well. Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton also stated that Schumacher was one of the sport’s greatest competitors and is a legend in his own right. However, not all welcome the return of Michael to Formula One, the world champion often finding himself in controversial situations. It is true that some of Schumacher’s antics have damaged the sport and brought unwanted headlines to the front pages of the sport newspapers. Opinion is divided on whether or not the return of Schumacher will be a good thing, but one thing is for certain: Bernie Ecclestone must be rubbing his hands together right now.
Renault have been suspended from the European Grand Prix – the appeal hearing due to be heard on August 17th – and this has meant that Fernando Alonso will potentially not be able to take part in his home race. Fears of a decline in the already impressively low ticket sales for the race were brought to the fore, but the potential of Michael Schumacher making an appearance may boost sales.
Every media agency, news broadcaster and journalist will be focused on Spain in a month’s time to see Schumacher climb into the cockpit of the F60, and while it may be good for numbers, it may not be all that great for a sport that has moved on from the days of parking at La Raccasse, team orders and barge-board barging.
To jog some of your memories, here’s what some of you had to say when I asked: Would You Want To See Michael Schumacher Return? And on the anniversary of Schumacher announcing his retirement, I asked: One Year On: Is Michael Missed? And finally, just after Schumacher announced his retirement, many voiced their opinion to the question: Is Schumacher’s Retirement Good For Formula One?