Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Raikkonen can put victory hopes on ice

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By Abhishek Takle

Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Formula One after a two-year hiatus has enthused media, fans and rivals alike. But the question remains — does the Iceman’s comeback mean a cooling of double world champion Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of being red-hot favourite again next year?

Almost certainly not. Raikkonen’s return is certainly a good thing for Formula One. For the first time ever, the sport will see six world champions line up on the starting grid.

Known for his often monosyllabic approach to the media and love of a good party away from the racetrack, the return of the steely-eyed Finn will add another welcome storyline.

But don’t expect him to win a second world title.

For one, Raikkonen makes his return with what will be called the Lotus team next year. While a solid midfield team of late in their Renault guise, they haven’t won a race since 2008 when Fernando Alonso was driving for them.

Schumi returns as if he’d never left

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MOTOR-RACING/When Germany’s best-selling tabloid Bild sends two reporters to an overseas Formula One test in the depths of February, you know something big is brewing.

The return of Michael Schumacher, and the seven times world champion’s first drive of the new Mercedes W01, in Valencia on Monday triggered scenes reminiscent of the glory days when the German was so dominant with Ferrari.

Vlog-Schumacher shadow still hangs over Ferrari’s Maranello

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Maranello is the spiritual home of Formula One glamour team Ferrari, but there is very little glitz in the working class northern Italian town.

Mark Meadows was there for the launch of Ferrari’s new 2010 car, which will have to go up against former favourite Michael Schumacher this season. Click on the video to hear more.

Schumacher faces up to his past

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SPORT-MOTOR/MERCEDESThe late Peter Ustinov, a comic connoisseur of national stereotypes in his 1958 spoof commentary for an imaginary Grand Prix of Gibraltar, might have enjoyed Monday’s Mercedes team launch in Stuttgart.

As Michael Schumacher observed, referring to his new employers’ prospects for the season ahead, all the ingredients were there.

Odd Germans and lucky underpants

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MOTOR RACING/SCHUMACHERCynics may observe that Michael Schumacher’s desire to be the odd man out in Formula One has the added bonus of always putting the German ahead of his team mate in the pecking order, even if only on paper.

What Schumacher wants, Schumacher generally gets and it comes as no shock that the new Mercedes (formerly Brawn GP) team run by his old Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn immediately granted the seven times world champion’s wish and give him the number three on his car, ahead of Nico Rosberg’s number four.

Schumacher becomes a contender again

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Formula One has moved on since Michael Schumacher retired in 2006, even if the German will be eager to roll back the years when he makes his comeback with Mercedes next season.

Despite turning 41 next month, the seven times world champion can be expected to show the same passion for racing, the same hunger for winning and the same ruthless determination.

Schumacher – The Comeback Part II (or not?)

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schumacherA 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).

Ferrari want a third car. Good or bad?

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For 20 euros you can buy a Michael Schumacher ‘Comeback’ cap from the official Formula One merchandise stands at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The longed-for return will not happen this season, with the retired seven times world champion thwarted by a neck injury from replacing injured Brazilian Felipe Massa at Ferrari, but his manager Willi Weber never misses a trick.

Who will replace Felipe Massa? (Part Two)

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badoerWho will replace Felipe Massa at Ferrari?

The question was asked in the immediate aftermath of the Brazilian’s life-threatening crash in Hungary last month and is now being asked again.

Luca Badoer got the nod for Valencia at the weekend but unless the 38-year-old Italian stand-in pulls something big out of the hat in Belgium this weekend the tifosi will be clamouring to have him out of the car before Ferrari’s home race at Monza.

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