Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has spoken about the deal he has cut with Michael Schumacher to make a dramatic and unexpected comeback at the European Grand Prix. Schumacher will replace Felipe Massa, who was discharged to travel home to Brazil today by his Budapest hospital.
Speaking in Germany’s Die Welt newspaper today, Montezemolo said that the team does ‘not expect miracles’ from the German, who has not raced an F1 car since the end of 2006.
One area that some of the other drivers are concerned about for Schumacher’s sake is the start of the race. The current Ferrari is just about a top ten qualifying car, certainly not the front runner that Schumacher was used to. He was never at his most comfortable starting in the pack. Add in the fact that he is out of practice at the most frantic moment of the Grand Prix and not mentally match-fit and that he will be using the 80hp boost of KERS for the first time, it will be a significant challenge, even for one of the best drivers to have raced an F1 car.
“Personally, I was a bit sceptical about managing to convince him, ” said Montezemolo. “First of all, because every time I talked to him he always reassured me that he was happy with his current situation— finally having time for his family. He never gave me the impression that he was bored or desperately looking for a new challenge. All of us in Ferrari wanted to see him again in an F1 race.”
Montezemolo also explains why Schumacher felt he needed to come back, “He has seen that his team, a team with which he has spent ten successful years, had an emergency and urgently needed help. You don’t give up on your old friends when they are in trouble. And someone like Schumacher certainly wouldn’t do that. He has always been loyal to us and he’ll now tackle this task as if he were trying to win the championship one more time.”
“We are not expecting miracles from him, and neither do the fans. Of course, I won’t deny that I hope this is also a positive morale boost for the entire team. The engineers can’t wait to work with him. They were all hoping that Schumacher would come back. It’s a win-win situation.”
There are many rumours about what Schumacher is being paid for his cameo appearance for Ferrari. What is clear is that his retainer as a consultant was not going to be renewed in 2010, but part of the deal is that it will be renewed at approximately €7 million fro the year. As to his race by race deal a figure of €1 million per race is being suggested in Germany.
He will not be testing the F60 car, as previously mentioned here, after Williams and the two Red Bull teams said no.