Schumacher – The Comeback Part II (or not?)
A lot of people are getting quite excited about the possibility of Michael Schumacher coming out of retirement to race for the new Mercedes F1 team (formerly known as champions Brawn) at the age of 41.
The German’s spokeswoman Sabine Kehm feels it is highly unlikely while Mercedes said at the weekend that “some speculations are nothing but dreams which will not come true” (although note the carmaker did not specifically say this particular piece of speculation was one of them).
Team principal Ross Brawn, who is currently on holiday, has been quoted by Germany’s Bild newspaper as saying that “the media are trying to put together a dream. Michael would have returned to the cockpit for Ferrari, but only temporarily. He has no ambitions to start a new career.”
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone told the BBC on Sunday that he was “very doubtful” about any such comeback, however appealing it might be.
On the other hand, Kehm told Britain’s Times newspaper on Monday that “I can see a lot of tempting things in it for Michael, but I can also see a lot of non-tempting things. I don’t know.
“It is as it was in August when you couldn’t tell what was going to happen. Then I was convinced Michael would never come back and suddenly all the circumstances were right for him,” she added, referring to the champion’s abortive attempt to return as a stand-in for injured Brazilian Felipe Massa at Ferrari.
A Schumacher comeback has a lot of media appeal — witness all the stories — and not least because McLaren will have two British world champions next season in Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.
That would revive the old Britain v Germany rivalry on a team level as well as a personal one.
Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug and the team’s chief executive Nick Fry both had chances to put the record straight about Schumacher in a conference call with reporters to announce Nico Rosberg’s signing on Monday and they ducked them.
One had to feel sorry for Rosberg, appearing for the first time as a Mercedes driver only for the opening question to be about Schumacher.
In fact, Haug actually stoked the speculation by suggesting that the second driver would be a very good news story for Formula One, just like the Mercedes takeover of Brawn and Rosberg’s signing.
It is hard to see how Nick Heidfeld or Adrian Sutil would fit that billing, even if they are also Germans.
The Brawn management response in itself rings alarm bells, although there could be any number of explanations.
One might be that Mercedes and Brawn, piqued by Button’s defection to McLaren last week, want to regain the media spotlight and such speculation does the trick.
Another could be that as soon as one driver is ruled out, the media bandwagon moves on and targets another. And it is always good for a team to show they have options to keep a lid on salary demands.
Or could it be, perhaps, that Schumi — who incidentally has a three-year consultancy agreement with Ferrari — really is a target? Time alone will tell.
PHOTO: Former Ferrari Formula One driver Michael Schumacher of Germany attends a news conference in Beijing, Nov. 3, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Lee