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Tests next week will decide if Schumacher comes back
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Tests next week will decide if Schumacher comes back
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Aug 2009   |  2:55 pm GMT  |  23 comments

Michael Schumacher’s comeback at the wheel of the Ferrari F60 in Valencia is not a racing certainty according to his spokeswoman, Sabine Kehm.

Picture 4
The seven times world champion will go through medical tests on his neck next week, to assess whether a comeback is possible. Schumacher admitted that his neck, which he injured in a motorcycle accident earlier this year, was “pinching” after his test of the 2007 F1 car last week at Mugello.

The purpose of that Mugello outing was more physical than anything else and there will be more outings next week. The 2007 car is so different from the 2009 car there is nothing he can gain in driving or set up terms, but it is the only place where he can really evaluate his neck and even train it, as there isn’t a piece of training equipment which simulates what happens to the neck when driving an F1 car.

Kehm told the German media today, ” It is not sure quite yet that the neck holds and the comeback can be started. It depends on medical investigations. Only after those will it be clear whether he will be able to drive.”

I rang her up this afternoon for a chat about the situation and it seems that everyone has got very carried away with the story of the comeback, with Bernie Ecclestone saying that he will show the youngsters the way home and so on, people have forgotten that Schumacher said at the outset that he would do it only if the doctors cleared him to race. Although he is “really into it” and training like mad, there is a small percentage chance that the doctors will say that his neck is not strong enough and they want to manage expectations.

The date of the medical checks will not be announced, because it would turn into a media circus, as it did in 1999 when he broke his leg and there was a scene whenener he turned up at hospital for a check-up.

Schumacher’s problem is specifically related to the bike accident he suffered this year and when I last saw him at a Grand Prix, in Germany, he was still moving stiffly.

But he also has a history of neck and back problems, going back to the 2005 season. It was not widely known about at the time and I was surprised when I learned about it while preparing my biography of him.

It not only affected his driving that year, but more importantly, it limited his physical training too, one of the cornerstones of his approach to racing. It contributed to his feeling that 2006 was the right time to retire.

The neck injury he received this year has been stabilised to the point where he is able to do the normal things in life, but to race an F1 car in back to back Grands Prix at Valencia and Spa will be a serious challenge and he will not do it if the doctors say that it is ill advised.

“My health is the priority, ” said Schumacher. “That’s the clear arrangement made with Ferrari and with my wife too.”

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23 Comments
  1. Bob says:

    Common Schumi.. you can do it fella. Your neck will be ok.
    We wanna see you tear it up again!

  2. Aaron James says:

    Michael should tell Bernie and the rest of F1 to go park it, if he can’t test the F60.

    It is ridiculous how much of a good news story Michael’s return is and if his health is in question then only a proper, representative test will tell him if it’s possible to come back.

    If he can’t get that representative test he ought to just stay in retirement.

    And let Williams count how fewer dollars they have in their bank at the end of the year.

    1. Martin Collyer says:

      Aaron, no reason why a race distance at Mugello or Fiorano in the 2007 car cannot establish whether his neck is O.K.

  3. P Byrne says:

    Reading between the lines I had a suspicion Schumacher’s participation in Valencia wasn’t 100% certain yet.

    Again, excellent work in cutting through all the hype. I’d say a U-turn is unlikely but still a distinct possibility…

  4. Robert McKay says:

    Would be ironic, after the little rant at Williams, if the doctors said “actually, no, you’re not fit enough to race” and Ferrari ended up having to put in Badoer or Gene after all.

    If Schumi driving is Plan B I wonder if they’re still working quietly on Plan C, just in case.

  5. Stevie P says:

    Hear, hear! And I’m not Schumi’s biggest fan either… but I think his temporary re-introduction to the scene can only be positive, regardless of the actual result he attains.

    It’ll pick Kimi up (even though he denies it), the young ‘uns (Lewis et al) will race against a “hero” of theirs, the Brawn team may get another “ally” against Red Bull (who ditched Ferrari engines in favour of Renault). F1 has something other to talk about than “politics”. Felippe will know that his seat is safe – Micheal’s just keeping it warm for him – but the team won’t suffer, without him being there.

    What about if, Ross hacked into Ferrari’s radio channel… Ross: “Hi Micheal, it’s Ross, remember me…? Well do us a favour and just plonk yourself in front of Webber and Vettel… thanks!” ;-)

  6. VonSpeeX says:

    i wanna know if anyone knows who micheals race engineer will be?plz?

    1. James Allen says:

      VonSpeeX – I see no reason why it shouldn’t be the majestic Smedley.

      1. Becken says:

        Here in Brazil we always heard good thing about Rob and the way he put Massa´s wildness under the control. Should be fantastic if you could write something about him…

      2. monktonnik says:

        “majestic”?

        Tell me that really is his pitlane nickname!

      3. phil says:

        What about the aussie engineer he won so many title for. I cant remember his name but I know he is still working for Ferrari.

      4. James Allen says:

        Chris Dyer, he’s now in charge of track engineering for Ferrari

  7. Mon Pen says:

    A cynic would say the story has had the desired effect on Valencia ticket sales.

    So here goes:

    The story has had the desired effect on Valencia ticket sales.

  8. Yo says:

    It doesn’t look good for him. I doubt he will race. When all the tickets are sold and now that everybody has forgotten about the Renault issue, they can confirm that Gene will race. After all, he is also Spanish and it will mean something for the Valencia GP.

  9. Mee says:

    Luckily the first race he’ll drive is at Valencia; not very hard on the neck I reckon. Spa will be more difficult with it’s high speed turns (Eau Rouge & Pouhon for example).

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  11. Peter says:

    Come on Michael you can do it! After all he did say, “pinch” not “it’s tearing itself to pieces every time I move!”

  12. Casino Square says:

    I hope he races. F1 has suffered enough embarrasment this year without ‘the greatest comeback in motor racing history’ being prevented by a bad neck.

  13. Jon Wilde says:

    If Renault do get banned, Alonso will transfer to Ferrari early (notice he hasn’t made any formal statement since Hungary) If they don’t Sch might race.

    Imagine, Schumacher is declared unfit to race, Renault gets banned, Alonso wins on his debut for Ferrari in Spain!!! Ferrari can stop paying Schumacher to sit on the pitwall the new saviour of the team is born!!!

    As a huge Michael Schumacher fan I would love to see him back, kicking Kimi’s a*s. I’m just thinking the whole thing may be a bit of a media hype to divert away from more pressing issues.

    Whatever happens in Valencia the most important thing is the news that Massa is recovering well. The interview Autosport posted may not be his finest hour, but it’s incredible the guy is alive let alone anything else! I hope to see him back in F1 soon!

  14. Ray.C. says:

    Apparently MS banged out a virtual race distance in Mugello. Not bad after such a long break.(although 1.23′s don’t seem too spectacular,he obviously wasn’t there to break records).
    I’m guessing Mugello’s very long straight gave him a much needed break, but surely braking at turn one would put more pressure on his neck than he’ll experience, until Monza.
    It would be a massive let down if he didn’t race, particularly as Valencia last year was mind-numbing TV.

    What has been highlighted in all of this, is Ferrari’s lack of depth in F1 test drivers.
    Where are the Massa’s of the future?
    Maybe they are content to just cherry pick proven racers.

    Also, Rule or not, it simply makes no sense to race anyone without adequate preparation.
    I thought safety was supposed to be paramount.

  15. JohnBt says:

    Oh dear, 2009 seems to be a real washed out year. It’s like chemotherapy gone wrong. We’re all pretending that it’s fine and will get better. Hope 2010 will be better after the new concord deal signed. NEVER HAVE I READ THAT BERNIE THANKED LOYAL & PASSIONATE FANS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD. Without us what’s F1 about. Someone should publish a book on F1 fans especially those who supported their heroes through defeat without any glorification.

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