While Felipe Massa’s condition continues to improve in hospital, speculation regarding who will stand in for the Brazilian at next month’s European Grand Prix in Valencia is mounting.
Word in Italy is that there is still concern about Massa’s sight in his left eye, with some suggestion that the optic nerve may be damaged. However Massa’s doctor Dino Altman, this afternoon said, “Felipe has no damage to his left eye. He opened it a little, it is still swollen, but he can see well. There is no obvious damage.” Only after detailed checks on the optic nerve will it be known whether Massa will race again.
Doctors at the AEK hospital are saying that he will be released in around 10 days time.
Michael Schumacher has stated several times that he is not interested in a return to Formula 1, however, his spokeswoman Sabine Kehm told the BBC today that he would not automatically reject the idea should Ferrari ask him. The important thing about this message is that he is willing to race, Ferrari would not want to be the ones to initiate this.
This idea, however, was soon quashed by the German’s manager Willi Weber who spoke with the 40-year-old yesterday and told the Daily Mail: “The pressure on him would be huge. He would be expected to win, but he has not driven this car.
“When Michael was racing he would get as close to perfection as possible. In this case, it would not be perfection; it would be a gamble – and that’s not Michael’s style.”
Ferrari’s alternatives, though, are poor with the team’s test drivers Luca Badoer, 38 and Marc Gene, 35 unlikely to be offered the seat. That would leave Schumacher as the team’s only remaining reserve driver.
Should Schumacher decide to return, he’ll be at the same age as Nigel Mansell when the Brit made his successful return to Formula 1 with Williams in 1994 which included victory at the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide and it would come just weeks after Lance Armstrong, also a seven-times champion, made an astonishing comeback in the Tour de France, becoming the second oldest rider to take to the podium in Paris.
Despite not having been in the car since 2007, Schumacher still trains everyday while the regulations would allow the German to use last year’s car to get back up to speed ahead of Valencia.
It is ironic, though, that should this come together, Schumacher make his return at a track he doesn’t know. But just imagine what the atmosphere will be like at Monza just two races later.