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The latest on Schumacher, Ferrari and Mercedes
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The latest on Schumacher, Ferrari and Mercedes
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Nov 2009   |  7:06 pm GMT  |  108 comments

The rumours around the possible return of Michael Schumacher to Formula 1 with Mercedes continue to swirl, but Ferrari remain calm and expect the seven times world champion to stay with them for the next three years as a consultant.

Schumacher in Action in Las Vegas (Photo: Todd McCall)

Schumacher in Action in Las Vegas (Photo: Todd McCall)


The latest twist is that Schumacher has not yet physically signed his new three year consultancy agreement with Ferrari. Schumacher’s manager Willi Weber said on Tuesday in Germany that he could not say whether the deal had been signed, even though it was all agreed and this is my understanding from the Ferrari side too.

However, what many commentators are overlooking is that Schumacher’s deal with Ferrari is not confined to his consultancy role on the road car side and the F1 team, he also has obligations with Ferrari sponsors, particularly Shell, for whom he is a valuable asset and there are programmes in place for 2010.

At Ferrari they are treating the latest rumours with a relaxed attitude. No-one from Schumacher’s side has come to them asking to be released and those who worked closely with the German during his time there do not believe that he would want to put himself back into the hurly burly of a full time F1 race role, especially with a brand like Mercedes, which would require a huge amount of promotional days from him.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said the other day, “If he wanted to leave (to race in F1) we would not stop him,” but privately the people at Maranello are expecting to work with Schumacher for another three years and would be astonished if he were to commit himself to a return to full time racing.

Schumacher raced in a kart event in Las Vegas last weekend and his doctor Johannes Peil has said that his neck will be back to 100% fitness and strength by Christmas.

Schumacher is enjoying his occasional racing outings at the moment; he won the Nations Cup at the Race of Champions with Sebastian Vettel and said last weekend, “I still, after all those years, have a lot of fun driving – and surprisingly I was even quite successful at these sporadic entries. I simply enjoy this pureness in karting, the direct fights, the duels wheel-to-wheel.”

By not coming out and denying the Mercedes stories, Schumacher and Mercedes boss Norbert Haug are keeping themselves in positive headlines, building to fever pitch in Germany, which keeps the Schumacher brand strong and neutralises the damage caused to Mercedes by Jenson Button’s defection to McLaren. Weber is actively fanning the rumours and there is a feeling that this is a giant game.

Meanwhile sources close to the WRC suggest that Kimi Raikkonen is close to agreeing a deal with Citroen to compete in next year’s world championship, so the prospect of a Mercedes line up of Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld is gaining momentum. But Ross Brawn has said that the team is on no hurry to sign a second driver and with the Qadbak takeover of Sauber still to be confirmed, Heidfeld doesn’t have any other pressing options.

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108 Comments
  1. Rang says:

    If Schumi was to drive, why not in Ferrari itself ? Why not shell on of their drivers to another team and give the seat to Schumi. Do you think he wouldnt’ love that ?

    1. Jim Belfast says:

      James, looking at the Jerez test coming up and all the potential future stars in attendance – are there any of them that you feel (or the F1 world feel) are the “next big thing”?

      Im, assuming the fact they are there at all suggests they all have a chance of making it but does anyone stand out?

      1. James Allen says:

        I’m going to do a post on them shortly

  2. Michael says:

    I agree 100% James. Its a media generated PR bonanza with little substance. Too much as stake ($ wise and reputation)for Schumacher and his management team to break ties with Ferrari to go race with Merecedes.

  3. Spenny says:

    “By not coming out and denying the Mercedes stories, Schumacher and Mercedes boss Norbert Haug are keeping themselves in positive headlines”

    …for the moment, but I think people will be pretty miffed when they realise that they’ve been played for a publicity game and Schuey never had any real intent of joining MercGP.

    1. Michael S says:

      I agree… lots of people got excited last summer when he sort of, kind of was coming back… twice in one year will make Schumi fans crazy

      1. michael c says:

        this time might be even more annoying – last time Michael played the sympathy for his pal card and played it well and people admired him for it (and were soooo keen to see him back against the current crop of drivers) – this time might be seen as di..ing all us punters around

  4. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    I really hope that Mercedes don’t sign Heidfeld. They need to put their money where their mouth is and sign a premier league driver. How else will they take the fight to Ferrari and McLaren in 2010?

    If they put Heidfield in the car next year and they underperform, everyone will blame them for not being objective, for being too nationalistic and for wasting an opportunity by letting Raikkonen go.

    Rosberg-Heidfeld would be the most unexciting driver line up in a big budget team since Trulli-Ralf Schumacher at Toyota. Surely, Ross Brawn must be tearing his hair out at the moment. I’m hoping that Mercedes have a trick up their sleeve?

    Norbert, hire Kimi and find him a double to do PR days! If he’s asking for silly money then fix his salary in Argentinian Pesos. Or call Montoya and ask him to come back (after fitting himself a gastric band).

    1. Ani says:

      from a Kimi fan … Montoya would be worth it :), he deserved some more success ( but i never really liked his ‘duels’ )

    2. niceguyrichy says:

      maybe kimi doesn’t want to drive for Merc ?
      there would be a lot of pressure on him, they’d need a lot of PR work done for their first season (which as you know kimi just loves). whereas if he goes and does rallying there would be no pressure on him whatsoever, AND he’d be picking up a nice big paycheck from ferrari. win win as far as he’s concerned, no ?

    3. Renn Sport says:

      LOL Montoya is a fatty now isn’t he… what the hell happened!

      Taco Bell Damn you!

      1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

        I remember reading that JPM ordered some Big Macs (plural) to celebrate his win at Brazil in 2004. No joke!

        I hate his attitude and he is largely despised in Colombia outside of Bogota (for being a brat). There’s no denying his natural talent though…what a waste of what could have been.

        Here’s something quite funny that I’m sure many of you have seen (about Montoya “breaking his head”)…..

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2eu-V57zpc

      2. Renn Sport says:

        I have a Columbian brother in law and we both really love to hate on Montoya for breaking our dreams.

        We were both Montoya men! He drove for Williams and McLaren whom I support.

        His fattness and him running away from F1 kills us. He never delivered the WDC we thought he could. He should have stayed.

        Still I saw him beat Alonso at Silverstone.

        I love/hate that man!

    4. Jordan says:

      The excitement comes with fights and victories, so if they (Rosberg and Heidfeld) start the season winning races you will going to have all the excitement you could want.

      So let’s wait and see what happen with then next year.

  5. F1 Kitteh says:

    I wonder if a combination of Schumi and Heidfeld split role would be a scenario not much talked about. Schumi wants to do some races, Heidfeld has no other options, so might be a workaround.

    1. Tim L says:

      Contractually that would be very weird….what if one just started winning…and in the points lead….then time for the other one to step in…..hum…..

      1. michael c says:

        well we all know what happened in Schueys last team in those circumstances (ask Rubens)………..

  6. rpaco says:

    Wiley Willie is keeping the pot boiling nicely.

  7. John says:

    I guess Mercedes has time to wait for Renault’s decision in the new year to stay in F1 or not. If Renault pulls out, then Kubica is on the market again. Maybe Mercedes is looking to get him in the car?

    1. Jim Belfast says:

      Kubica is the best driver outside the McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull camp. He would be a great partner for Rosberg.

      Then the top 4 teams would have the top 8 drivers, and the remainder would consist of journeymen (barrichello, heidfeld, trulli, liuzzi) and the stars of tomorrow (buemi, algesauri, hulkenburg, sutil, kobayashi, petrov)

  8. george debenham says:

    If nothing else the rumours connected to the remaining mercedes seat are keeping the intrigue going during the long wait until testing begins. I believe that realisticaly it will almost certainly be rosberg and heidfeld in the final line up but I dont see this as such a bad combination as most seem to be judging it. Lets face it in truth who would really have placed button and barrichello as a top pairing at the begining of this year. We all know that whilst the top three perhaps four drivers stand out from the middle of the field, the difference is probably only a few tenths and as we have seen this year the car is a great equaliser. There is nothing to say that McLaren or Ferrari wont produce a dog of a car again this year and if they do their driver line wont save them.

  9. Paul Mc says:

    Although keeping the story alive is good for both parties in regards to media attention and branding, i dont think Schumi fans, like myself, will be happy to be strung along only to be let down again.

    There was a huge reaction to Schumis failed comeback and a lot of let down fans. If there is nothing to the story Michael should come out and say so.

    1. Stefan says:

      Well this is different. Last summer Michael stated that he wants to help out and got into training and into the car. Now, I did not hear anything from him stating he wants a full return at Mercedes. Until he does, there is no need to go on high expectations just because of the media.
      Anyhow, the Mercedes non-disclousure agreement is working pretty well, since you don’t hear anything form the drivers that are supposed to be in touch with Merc for that last drive.

  10. David says:

    James, what is your understanding of the situation at Renault? Is it likely that Brawn and Merc are waiting to see if Kubica comes back onto the driver market for next year?

    1. James Allen says:

      Until Renault say they are pulling out everyone has to presume that they are staying in. But they have indicated that they will make an announcement before the end of the year

  11. Jimmi C says:

    Schumi would be mad to return to F1 now. He has achieved records that will surely be unbeatable in this generation, with the memory of his last battling race still in the minds of many F1 fans. And, you pointed out James, the inevitable corporate grind pressing the flesh.

    I agree that this is just Mercedes getting their column inches in revenge for the Button/Hamilton announcement. I can’t see Schumi banging wheels with Massa in a rival car – not with their relationship.

  12. Darren says:

    Ive just see an interview with Schumacher at the karting finals where he agreed to be interviewed as long as they dont mention F1.It seems strange, if he had no interest in a return and it has all been made up by the media, surely he would have used this oppurtunity to put us fans straight. He must be in negotiations. Maybe he is awaiting final tests on his neck and agreeing release from Ferrari. I watched his press release when he had to cancel his comeback with Ferrari and he was really gutted. He must be very tempted asuming he will have a good car. He must look at how well Rubens did this year and know he would have been able to do a lot better. Schumacher would have won the title this year had he raced for Brawn, and he knows it.

    1. Stefan says:

      No offense, but Button won the title in that car, so you can pick any name of the top drivers and conclude that they would have won it in that car as long as no two of them were driving it.

    2. jeff davis says:

      I agree Darren. I do not think Schuey would keep his fans ( inc me ) hanging on the line if he were not at least in talks and testing with Mercedes. He must be seriously thinking about it or he would have refuted it by now. He was really sorry to let his fans and himself down last year, i cant see him winding us up as he knows what he is and how much it means not just to his fans but the entire F1 fraternity. I think he is testing and seeing if he is up to it. Knowing schuey he will not want to come back as an also ran he will want a chance to win his eighth !! Imagine if he was on the grid in 2010. I would come out of my 2006 depression. Come back for a year schuey… please.

      Jeff
      x

      1. Darren says:

        I know how you feel Jeff. I still watch Scheys last race in Brazil in 2006, what a great drive. He has just beaten current F1 drivers in Massa’s karting event easily. Im sure he is awaiting tests on the neck and maybe doing some simulator work. He could def come back and hold his own and I really hope he does. Gone a bit quiet over the last few days mind. Just keep everything crossed.

  13. Travis says:

    “But Ross Brawn has said that the team is on no hurry to sign a second driver and with the Qadbak takeover of Sauber still to be confirmed, Heidfeld doesn’t have any other pressing options.”

    James, you do know that Qadbak Investments is totally bogus, right?

    1. James Allen says:

      Well there are some odd omens, but BMW corporate did the due diligence and you’d like to think those guys wouldn’t get taken for a ride.

  14. Probie says:

    Hi James, thanks for the update!
    Though I would love for Schumacher to drive in F1 again I dont think it will happen. I would rather see Kimi in the vacant Mercedes seat.

    Would it be possible to race a 3rd car for select races if the teams choose, for promotional events – no points scoring ofcourse? It would definitely add excitement seeing Schumacher or any other driver take on the current drivers.

  15. Chris says:

    The only thing i know for sure is that this will be the very last time they will be able to play the comeback PR card. Deep down Schumacher must want to race in F1, but it depends if he has the courage to commit himself for one more season.

    1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      I totally agree. If there is no truth to this then Schuey should speak up and stop these clowns from potentially ruining his reputation.

      Hope that Norbert’s “surprise driver” comment was not part of any German sense of humour.

  16. Athos says:

    James, what about the Kubica to Mercedes scenario, given Mercedes are saying they will now take till Christmas to make a decision, and given they haven’t signed another German in Heidfeld and given Renault are looking increasingly likely to do a runner, wouldn’t it seem that Kubica is in fact now quite likely to potentially end up at Mercedes?

    1. James Allen says:

      Well I floated it as a possibility last week. It’s literally a question of wait and see!

  17. Tom - Australia says:

    I’ll be very surprised if Heidfeld ends up in a Silver Arrow. It just doesn’t…. work. This is F1! Kimi needs to get that drive.

  18. Andrew M from Durham says:

    As a Heidfeld fan, the anticipation is so stressful! Everyday, more rumours seem to be spreading; I realise that ‘Schumacher goes to Mercedes’ sells more newspapers than ‘Heidfeld goes to Mercedes’. I agree James that Schumacher is unlikely to return, and with Raikkonen likely to go to the WRC, the only other competition is Kubica. But with rumours that Kobayashi is going to Renault it ‘appears’ that they will remain for 2010 and Kubica will therefore still there. It would be interesting to see ‘quick nick’ in a (hopefully) fast car but given the nature of F1, anything can happen.

    1. James Allen says:

      Tell us about being a Heidfeld fan. How did it start and what is it about him that does it for you?

      1. Andrew M from Durham says:

        I have the feeling that Heidfeld supporters are a rare breed.

        I’ve respected him since 2001 when he got a podium in Brazil for Sauber and also beat Kimi. My true support began in 2004 when, for very little money (if any), he drove for Jordan in a terrible car but was totally committed and focused (e.g. I have heard that he returned home from a pre-season holiday in order to help the team with a testing problem) .

        He is a great overtaker and was impressed by his move on Alonso for second in Monaco 2005. He may appear dull to some but I respect this professionalism at races and just look to youtube to see him try to dance with massa!!

        He quietly gets on with his job; has strong race pace (his qualifying recently has been shaky); does not cry to the media when things go wrong (in fact his low media profile has at times appeared to be a hindrance); unlike other drivers, money does not appear to be a motivating factor and importantly has been more than a match for Kubica.

        How many people thought that Robert would send Heidfeld to an early retirement? Nick outscored the Pole in two out of three full seasons. I rate Kubica as one of the best on the grid, and was thoroughly satisfied that Heidfeld rose to the challenge.

      2. Martin P says:

        All very sound reasons for admiring an undoubtedly solid driver.

        But oh my word… admitting to being a fan is like admitting your girlfriend is a “moped” – lots of fun to ride but you wouldn’t want your friends to see you on it.

        You’d have been better off saying it was the beard and changing your name!

        Only joking… I for one (two?!) think NH deserves another year in a good car to prove he can break through to the top step.

      3. Thyraeus says:

        Thinks it was a spelling mistake James; it should have read:

        As THE Heidfeld fan……!

      4. F1 Kitteh says:

        Let me guess… he must’ve been feeling quite down after Tora Takagi was dropped by Arrows, then in the moment of despair, the arrival of Heidfeld was like a ray of sunshine, and it was love at first sight then it just all went out of hand from thereon … lol

      5. Ted the Mechanic says:

        Good question James. The words “Nick Heidfeld” and “fan” are very seldom seen in the same sentence…

        And while on the subject, I reckon he should bin the beard as well. I’m sure they are not listed in the ‘Go Fast Technical Manual’ as an optional extra.

      6. James Allen says:

        What words does one normally find in a sentence containing “Nick Heidfeld” ?

      7. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

        journey and man squashed together in one word!

      8. Jake Pattison says:

        Hahaha…classic. :)

      9. Dan says:

        THAT is funny :)

      10. Quick Nick Rules says:

        James, I know what you mean about Nick Heidfeld – I used to think he was a pointless and boring driver eg Fisi, Trulli but soon I realised that despite not being the most scintilating character off the track, on it he is ballsy, feisty and a true racer – just take a look at this if you don’t believe me:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VLdPDo6mP4

        You’ll agree some of those moves are world class – the move round the outside of Alonso at Bahrain ’07, the double double pass of Kimi, Kovalainen, ALonso and Glock at Silverstone last year and of course his masteful move on Alonso at Monaco ’05. Nick is one of the last true racers in the sport, right up there with Jenson, Lewis and Alonso in terms of overtaking ability. The likes of Rosberg and Vettel may be very highly rated, but it is hard to think of many truly great overtaking maneouvures they have pulled off since they entered the sport.

      11. Andrew Halliday says:

        James you crack me up! Both of those questions are hilarious! You should ask some corkers like that in your post race interviews next year for the whole world to hear!

  19. Roberto says:

    Dear James,

    It seems like Schumacher is realy trying to return, if Montezemolo is pushing for a 3rd car it is because Schumacher is telling him he wants to comeback, and if Ferrari can’t make it he will definitely will work towards going to Mercedes, a german team with a german 7 time world champiom, for marketing purposes it will be very good

  20. Chris--W says:

    What About Adrian Sutil for a drive? I think he fits the profile…

  21. Andy says:

    James

    I know your feeling is that ms won’t go to mercedes. If it was more than a yarn I’d have expected it to be done by now.

    Who would you like to see there next year? Heidfeld just doesn’t strike me as a driver that would be a big signing even for mercedes.

  22. Michael S says:

    As I stated in another post… All this press is great for Mercedes. However, if they don’t land Kimi or Schumi it will be a huge let down. I almost feel bad for Heidfeld who knows if his name is called you will hear a pin drop.

    I still think once Kimi leaves F1 he will not be back.. I don’t buy sabbaticals working too well in fast paced F1… therefore, I think the Robertson’s would love to get him into Brawn

    1. Ted the Mechanic says:

      I don’t know, a year off for Kimi may be just the tonic he needs to come back in 2011 fully re-invigorated, enthusiastic and totally committed! Well, anything’s possible, right?

      But it will be interesting to see how driver salaries play out over the next few years. While it seems Lewis, Jenson, Alonso and presumably Vettel are pretty well set up for the next 3 or 4 years, one would have to assume that most of the non-superstar also-rans may struggle to command enough to live in the manner they may have become accustomed to in recent years.

  23. Bob Q says:

    I’ll be disappointed if Michael or Kimi don;t get the seat, and I expect Mercedes and their fans will be as well. Nick is obviously a good driver and has had some success but he is not what I would call a race changer. From a promotional stand point he is not mister charisma (which is no slight towards him as a driver or person.)

    Also, just wanted to say thank you to James for a good blog. I have been an F1 fan for 30 years or so, and discovering your blog has increased my enjoyment.

  24. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    If Raikkonen is close to a contract with Citroen, then good for him. He’ll get to try something that he enjoys full-time, and I hope to see him succeed even if he isn’t in F1 next year.

    I don’t think Rosberg and Heidfeld are in the top class of drivers out there, but I think people could be underestimating them as a tandem for a top team. For one, as we know, the most important factor of F1 is the car, and if Merc turn out a winner and a championship contender, then Rosberg and/or Heidfeld will win races and be competitive. While they’re not in the top class of drivers, the fact is that F1 drivers on natural pace aren’t that far apart; a number of experts I’ve read estimate the gap from top to bottom to be about .3 of a second. (Excluding guys like Nakajima, Nelsinho, etc.)

    Secondly, Heidfeld is a very underrated driver. He’s very quick when he gets heat into the tires; he’s a smooth guy who takes car of the car, and he has a reputation for being very good at setting up and developing the car. His driving style seems to be very well tailored to next year’s technical regs. To flesh out my point on Heidfeld being underrated, I’d ask Raikkonen, Massa, Webber, and Kubica what they think of him as a driver. In fact, I would expect him to be the stronger driver of a Rosberg-Heidfeld pairing.

    1. Ted the Mechanic says:

      That’s a good point about Heidfeld being suited to next years regs and no fuel stops. How many times has Nick one-stopped this year.

      He will feel right at home nursing his tyres with a heavy fuel load, but still maintaining a reasonable pace. Not to mention setting the car up to suit that strategy.

    2. F1 Fan says:

      Excellent review, Rosberg and Heidfeld will probably win races and one of them could possibly win the WDC as we all saw what an above average driver(sorry James I wouldnt have Button in my top five drivers) can do in the overall seasons best car.

      However in regard to the Schuey rumour I can see some merit in it, as Merc needs a high profile driver. MS would be a great fit, but unfortunately I cant see it happening. I hope Kimi finds his way into the seat.

      1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

        I disagree on Button not being a top-5 driver.

        For one, I think he’s staked a legitimate claim to the title given that he’s one of three (four, counting Kimi) drivers who have won a championship. The F1 World Championship the hardest thing in racing to do, no matter how good the car is, and a driver has affirmed himself as undoubtedly one of the best in F1 if he wins one.

        Aside from his world championship, he’s delivered some stellar drives in his career, even before this season. The win in Hungary in ’06 was a top class win, and he delivered several very quick qualifying and race performances in the 04-06 span with BAR/Honda. He’s delivered the kind of drives in his career that you would expect from a top class driver in F1, and I haven’t really seen that from Rosberg at all. (Heidfeld, though, has delivered one or two.)

    3. Martin says:

      I agree. Williams and Sauber engineers would be worth asking, although even they might have biases. I have vague memories of Webber stating that while Heidfeld might have had a slight edge in slow corners, Webber generally felt he had him covered. The thing with quick corners is that it is that it tends to be the corner entry that the difference is made and that leads to very small time differences.

      The other thing with this is that the tyre loads are at their greatest in quick corners so it is an area where wear can be saved for relatively low cost. I suspect that you’ll know more about this than I do, but I remember Hamilton commenting on Kovalainen and saying that ‘Heikki was exceptional/outstanding in quick corners’. Whether this contributed to Kovalainen’s inability to manage his tyres over stint as well as Hamilton (what I interpret as his slow starts to a stint) is pure speculation from me.

    4. Thomas says:

      I also have to agree with this. Heidfeld is a class driver, very good and very underrated.

      By the way how is it a point that Mercedes is going with an unproven lineup next year, when Brawn started with Rubens (Class act, good driver, but not one of the greats) and Button (Shaky reputation at best, a single win to his name – in the wet) but now Rosberg and Heidfeld is not good enough?

      1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

        Rubens had proven capable of winning plenty of races and producing results. While he wasn’t in Schumacher’s class and was beaten by him mainly because Schumacher was a better driver, the fact is that he’s never been allowed to compete for a championship either because of the limitations of the car or because Ferrari wouldn’t let him. Rubens has also had the opportunity for a long time of being one of the very best at setting up and developing a car.

        Button had long been regarded as a potential champion before the two stinker years by Honda. He had pretty much always been in the “If only he had the car” category.

        Of the potential Merc pair, I think Heidfeld has proven what he can do against some of the most talented drivers in F1. He should be expected to shine in a top car, at least in my view.

        Rosberg, on the other hand? The jury is still very much out. I don’t think he got the best out of the Williams this year on the balance, although he had some very good performances.

  25. Tomek says:

    My bet is that Merc is waiting what will happen with Renault. If they decide to leave (which is, in regard to 2010 season in my opinion and from what I’ve read opinion of James too, very unlikely) then I take a long shot that they would try to hire Kubica. I’ve read that Norbert Haug likes and respects him a lot.
    Kimi is also an option but even for Merc I think he’s too expensive.
    Hiring Nick would not be a good decision. He’s sort of “pallid” and taking into consideration presence of Rosberg this would be, as somebody has already stated, one of the most dull pairs in 2010 season.
    Plus, where would be a surprise that Norbert Haug promised?;]

  26. Spyros says:

    I still don’t buy it… :)

  27. Lockster says:

    My thoughts on this whole situation have now changed.

    I originally thought that it was all just PR spin, as I thought that he was still contracted to Ferrari. But if he isn’t actually contracted….

    I feel Schumacher left at the end of ’06 mainly because of the driver situation that was developing at Ferrari at the time rather than him truly being 100% ready to call it quits:

    1) Kimi was already contracted for ’07
    2) Having become very close to Massa over several years together, Schumacher didn’t want to cause Massa problems with his career at Ferrari by staying on and causing Massa to either step down from racing or find another team, paticularly when Michael was “close” to ending his career anyway

    The strain of 16 years in the sport probably meant that he decided that he wasn’t keen on continuing at the expense of Massa, but now with a couple of years of “relax time” out of F1, and his desire to compete now burning in his belly, perhaps he is willing to commit to another couple of years in the sport.

    He will have seen how Kimi snatched the title in ’07 and how Massa almost took it out in ’08 and knowing that he is a better driver than either of these drivers means that he could possibly have had 9 WDC’s by now if he had stayed on.

    Let’s face it, the consultancy job doesn’t seem to have given him much satisfaction and while his preferred option would have been to return to racing with Ferrari, that isn’t really an option, so why not explore other options? Especially if it means teaming up with Ross Brawn again in a championship winning team.

    He certainly has plenty of challenges left to keep him motivated – 100 GP wins is not out of the question if he came back for a few years, and winning WDC’s with three different teams would be quite an achievement.

    He is probably still fit enough and still has his amazing talent, so if his desire to race has returned, who knows??

  28. Silverstoned says:

    Rosberg/Heidfeldt? [yawn] That’s a great point scoring team!
    Also the mother of all anticlimaxes. After all the talk of “surprise” and everything, won’t Brawn and Haug end up looking a bit silly? the Morecambe and Wise of F1?

    1. James Allen says:

      “Bring me sunshine…” Like it, I can see that routine in media briefings on Saturday afternoons!

  29. Mat says:

    I agree, it’s all about the column inches. I said as much in my own blog just last week. I’d be honoured if you could take a look and let me know what you think. The address is matf1.blogspot.com

    1. James Allen says:

      I took a look, Mat, looks fine, keep going with it. It would be better if it had a link to this site, though!

  30. ashes1991 says:

    James, surely this is all just publicity. Just some
    way to make good publicity out of them loosing the current world champion?

    I can’t see Schumacher making a come back into F1 with any other team than Ferrari. Surely the first team to know about any kind of return would be Ferrari right? I understand that Alonso has said he wouldn’t drive for Ferrari if Shumacher drove for them too. Surely if there was a chance, then Ferrari would have got him and had him a Felipe as the line up. Or do just think that Alonso was chosen as he will be in F1 longer than a Schumacher come back?

    Can you see Mercedes being in F1 in the coming seasons? Lots of manufactures have pulled out. What will make them stay in longer than the others? Because merc ar not going to want to stop in F1 for a long period of time if they end up under performing, of course that is if they under perform. Because I don’t think that they would be impressed with a mistake like rosberg made in Singapore.

    Ash

  31. manatcna says:

    Let’s face it – Raikkonen and Schumacher will not be racing in F1 next year.

    Of course, I could be wrong; but I don’t think so.

  32. ashes1991 says:

    James, sorry forgot to ask this do you think Schumacher coming back to F1 would be a good thing? Obviously there would be lots of publicity which is good for the sport. But F1 has moved on from the Schumacher era(which of course was sometimes contrevercial), would him coming back to F1 do the sport any good?

  33. Peter says:

    Kimi can be close to secure a contract with a WRC team , but the question is for how many races? He is not silly he knows that he needs some races to be competitive. I doubt full season WRC. Mercedes GP and a few races in WRCcould work if Mercedes let him being associated with an other brand too.

  34. Fergal says:

    I’ve been thinking this evening: there’s another name that we’ve all been talking about coming back, but I’ve never seen linked with the second Merc/Brawn seat: Villeneuve.

    What do you reckon guys? Ok, he’s a bit inconsistent, but probably less so than Heidfeld. And if you compare their records:

    Heidfeld: 0 wins and one pole from 167 starts.
    Villeneuve: 11 wins, 13 poles from 164 starts.

    We’ve discussed at length that Mercedes would love a someone who’s a race winner, and ideally someone who’s been a champion. Seeing as Alonso, Hamilton, Button are ruled out, as are Mr Kimi and Schumi by the looks of things, surely JV is the logical option. Merc already have their young german poster boy.

    DISCUSS. :-)

  35. TinyJim says:

    Schumi (who’s gear was as good as anyones) did well in Vegas but most of the field were American who aren’t in the same league as the Euro boys. Most of Schumi’s time was spent racing these dudes while the likes of fore, Ardigo, Thonon, Lammers, Nato dissapeared into the distance. Schumacher was the best of Beumi and Piquet Jnr though.

    Just goes to show why describing karting ‘as the grassroots of motorsport’ isn’t all that true. It has always been, and remains one of the hardest motorsports to master!

  36. Ethan says:

    Great article

  37. Road of Bones says:

    I honestly can’t see Kimi pulling out a last-minute switch to Mercedes – I think the WRC needs him too much to stir up some interest after a 6-year Loeb-wash.

    “Schumi’s return” is a lot of media wind – it’ll be Heidfeld to provide some solid experience & consistency for Mercedes, and to play a dutiful Barrichello-style partner to the great young hope that is Nico (with whom MB are clearly eyeing the future).

  38. Jake Pattison says:

    I think there is more fact than fiction in this story of Schumacher’s return. The Schumi-Ferrari relationship has been less than ideal for some time now, and Michael is in no rush to resign with them as an advisor.
    So not only would a move to Mercedes be a great finger in the air to Ferrari, but he would be in a great position to fight for the championship. He is such a great driver that the time off will not have slowed him at all I reckon. But he would still want to be as competitive as possible, and the Mercedes is the ticket.
    Schumi is very shrewd, and as in racing he leaves nothing to chance, so I feel he really knows what he is doing in this situation.
    Bring on 2010, and the return of a legend.

  39. Finn # 1 says:

    I think it makes sense for Schumi to return, but only on a full time basis. A part time return would look like a gimmick and would be unfair to the other drivers who are trying to race for a full season without Schumi coming in at XX races and nicking points off them.

    He’s only 41 and I can see no reason why he shouldn’t be capable of racing for several more seasons if he really wants to. He’s already proved himself in F1 (to a certain degree) and there’s no disgrace if he drives well and gets a reasonable performance from the car … which he will do.

    Schumi’s unwillingness to rule out a return would suggest that he is seriously thinking about making one. I expect he is waiting to hear if his neck is fully recovered before he makes a final decision.

    I think the chances of him racing next year are probably 60/40 that he will.

  40. Leo McNeir says:

    An interesting insight, as always. Thanks, James. But I’m thinking of Norbert Haug’s statement that the appointments would be “surprising” and I can’t help thinking that it would be no big surprise to appoint Nick Heidfeld. Surely Herr Haug must have something more eye-opening in prospect or he would risk looking rather foolish. It would be a coup for example to pounce on Kimi, as McLaren pounced on Jenson. Any ideas outside the box?

    1. James Allen says:

      Maybe the surprise is that it will be announced really late!

      1. Martin P says:

        Do you think they’ll have bothered asking Hakkinen?!

        It seems to me they’re scrabbling around now looking for someone or something to match the hype and steal the story back instead of simply looking for the best driver available. It’s a worrying sign that marketing, image and pride is winning out over substance and racing at the moment!

        Not a good start as a race team – but as a publicity stunt? Branson would be proud.

  41. Alistair Blevins says:

    The more I think about it, the more I cannot see this move happening.

    Whilst Mercedes would have loved to hook up with MS in his prime, he would liklely suffer (relatively – he’d still be quick) in performance terms against the Hamiltons and Alonsos of this world. This would not be good for either Mercedes or MS.

    Also, his allegiance to Ferrari is still strong. He has not been connected to Mercedes since 1990/1991, which was sport cars, not F1.

    Despite their success and close relationship I also don’t think the draw of Ross Brawn is enough to change the direction of his life, and I would think that Ross would want to plough his own furrow, rather than try and rekindle the Ferrari glory years.

    I know Ferrari has changed a lot in recent years, but MS has been around during that time and obviously still has much loyalty to the brand and the people, as well as to existing commerical partners (and the contracts could be tricky and expensive to extricate from).

    If a similar situation arose in 2010 whereby MS was needed by Ferrari I have little doubt that he’d relish the opportunity. He could pit himself against the best and be under little pressure to deliver. It would be him doing his team a favour, and giving himself an opportunity to do a few races and to have some fun.

    A full season is a very different proposition.

    Finally, what’s the motivation? Surely it can’t be financial? He’s sitting on a billion dollar fortune.

    It can’t be results driven. He’s been there and done it so many times. Does he want to put himself through the mill of a season again?

    He’s old(er) too, and having a great time in retirement by all accounts. He still gets to vent his competitive spirit from time to time, and he’s free from the commercial responsibilities that a full-time drive would bring.

    Most importantly, MS knew his time in F1 was up. He probably sensed that he was losing his edge – imperceptably to us mere mortals – and took leave whilst he was still at the top of his game – after 15 years in the sport, no mean feat in itself.

    He would only come back if he truly knew he still had it – he’s too driven to do a full season for a bit of fun.

    Don’t for one minute think I don’t want this to happen.

    I do. But it just won’t.

    1. S2K says:

      I can’t see how Schumacher’s input would help Ferrari, really.

      As for his motivation… he is German so would lover to win the world championship in a German car.

      1. Alistair Blevins says:

        I think he’s certainly valuable as an ambassador for Ferrari, but you’re right, I’m not sure what value he adds over a race weekend – maybe someone more qualified could shed some light on that.

        I don’t think his motivation would be driven by national pride, and I just can’t see him winning another championship unless he steps into a (considerably) better car than Hamilton and Alonso.

  42. davidturnedge says:

    I think Schumi must be lining up for Merc IF Renault doesn’t pull out – if Renault pulls out then surely Mercs future is with Kubica.

  43. Graeme Nesbitt says:

    James,

    I could not help but be underwhelmed by a combination of Heidfeld/Rosberg at Brawn even though I have followed Nico from his Formula BMW days. I am a big fan and am delighted to see him get his chance but I feel that he really needs a fast team mate over the next two years so we can truly gauge his speed against the other so called ‘Top Tier’ drivers ie Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Vettel, (Massa & Button?)

    The only way of doing this is to put him in a car alongside one of the above. I feel that the only option is for Norbert Haug to take a deep breath and sign Raikkonen on a 2 year deal until they can get Vettel at the end of 2011, by which time Rosberg will be fully up to speed (or prove himself incapable of doing so) and Merc GP will be the Teutonic dream team they aspire to be! You have to speculate to accumulate and balance Kimi’s increased retainer up against the publicity value of winning GP’s and (hopefully) championships. I feel that anyone is in doubt of this they should only take one look on YouTube at Raikkonen scything his way around Fisi on the last lap of Suzuka 2005.
    “Grand Prix racing at it’s absolute finest!” was how you described it James and I can only pose this question – Could you imagine Nick Heidfeld pulling off not only a move of that quality but stringing together a race punctuated by such pancahe and flair? I personally couldn’t but that is merely my opinion.

    Finally, I know this is slighly off topic but there is one man on the merry-go-round that I feel has been overlooked..

    Where does all of this leave Heikki Kovaleinen? I know that he is not a viable option for Brawn/Merc but surely he is a very attractive option elsewhere with three years experience in frontline teams?

    PS I think it is clear from the above that the Schumacher/Merc saga is merely oneupmanship in the media arms race between Merc GP and McLaren.

  44. David K says:

    As a huge Schumacher fan it would be fantastic to see him return with Ross Brawn. THis is what the fans want and I would guess deep down that Schumacher would want as well. We can only hope!

    Whilst Writing – James – we miss you on in the commentry box. Get back in there with Martin!!

  45. Trixie says:

    I’m really hoping against hope that all this delay in Mercedes’ 2nd driver line-up announcement is because of continuing negotiations with Kimi & his managers, but somehow, I feel this is not the case. Going by James’ sources, then Kimi’s 2010 sabbatical will be F1′s loss and WRC’s gain.
    Nothing against Heidfeld because he’s been a consistent and uncontroversial racer but Mercedes should have a star billing like Raikkonen who’s won fantastic races with their engine during his McLaren tenure.

    As for Schumacher’s comeback, he should let history be instead of teasing his F1 fans with silly, unrealistic fantasy comeback.

    The “surprise” headline that Norbert Haug should deliver is how he coaxed Kimi out of signing for the WRC… Now, perhaps this is my own unrealistic fantasy ?!?

  46. S2K says:

    It is pay back time for Michael. Remember how much Mercedes helped him in the early stages of his carrier. He was part of the Mercedes junior team, wasn’t he? Now, Mercedes needs him more than ever I think.

  47. Jon Wilde says:

    Isn’t Schumacher on a promise from Jean Todt for a job within the FIA?

    Are there any other Mercedes drivers who could be considered for the seat? anyone from DTM? Spengler or Di Resta might be a risk but would be sponsor friendly. Is Gary Paffet’s F1 test contract with Mclaren or Mercedes?

    I think we’ll end up with a line up of Rosberg and Kubica at Mercedes, with Renault selling to the Russians and Dave Richards.(Renault will stay on as an engine supplier)

    Quick Nick will find a nice drive in WTCC replacing Alex Zanardi

  48. carlm21 says:

    I can’t see Michael Schumacher coming back. He has achieved everything possible in formula one and it would do nothing to enhance what we already know…one of the best racing drivers of all time.

    Mercedes I think will try and go for Kimi but I’m not sure if they can afford him so Nick Heidfeld is the credit crunch option.

    I have just ordered a copy of your book, look forward to reading it.

  49. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    James, what is Fisichella’s situation for next year?

    I get the impression that Ferrari over-compromised themselves by offering him a reserve role as a result of Badoer’s disappointing performance.

    Fisichella did not perform much better. Is the deal with him for 2010 still on? I would not be surprised if Ferrari were not a bit worried about this.

    1. James Allen says:

      He told me in Abu Dhabi that he might go back to Force India and he’s in the frame at Sauber through the Ferrari connection

  50. Tom says:

    At the time, I didn’t read anything into Schumacher’s absence from the Ferrari finals event (the Valencia one where Luca de Montezemolo chauffeured his drivers into a gravel trap) but all the other Ferrari drivers were present.
    I didn’t read much into Button’s absence from the Brawn event in Brackley either…

  51. Alastair says:

    Merc are waiting for Kimi to decide between WRC and F1.

    1. Charlie B says:

      Kimi is waiting for Merc to decide if they can afford him.

      1. manatcna says:

        I think he’ll have a long wait

  52. sliderule says:

    hopeful for it to happen, doubtful it will

  53. Italian Mike says:

    2010…
    Mercedes – Schumacher (Alonso)/Rosberg.
    Ferrari – Massa/Alonso (Schumacher).
    Citroen – Raikkonen.
    Reasons?
    Shumacher’s relationship with Merc & NH, and the changes over the last two years at Ferrari.
    MS’s 2010/11 Ferrari commitments & corporate contracts.
    Ferrari’s line-up – a done deal way before the Brawn Mercedes tie-in. OK, they needed to secure Alonso quickly but they wish they had waited now.
    Alonso’s contract with Ferrari would not stand in the way of an MS return.
    Raikonen’s reputation is a serious negative for Mercedes (and Ferrari). He’s Finnish and Fins/Scandinavians have a totally different mentality to Europeans. They cry, they drink, they pout. Come to think of it, we’re getting more like them.
    I cannot recall looking forward to a following season as much as 2010.
    Rock on, James.

  54. Hans joergen Stroem says:

    could there be any truth in the saying that Schumi was instrumental in getting rid of Kimi at Ferrari, and Alonso into the team? especially getting rid of Kimi!

  55. Malcolm says:

    Regarding all those that say “what has he got to prove?” or “what are his motivations?”

    He’s a racing driver. He’s passionate about racing. He clearly has nothing to prove, as evidenced by racing a kart in Las Vegas. However, he knows he’s still fast, and he probably wants to try his hand at the new era of cars with slicks… and I bet the fire is still burning in his belly.

    As for potential drivers other than Michael, I could see Heikki signing on. He’s already got a relationship with Mercedes, and he’s proven himself to be a quick driver.

    Out of all the drivers, if I was Ross Brawn, I would be seriously looking at Heidfeld. He’s proven his worth against Kubica, he’s got a lot of fighting spirit, and he’d be a great benchmark against Rosberg (who I don’t expect to do particularly well). He fits in with their tight budget. He’s got a lot of pros, and few cons. Why else would BMW have held on to him for so long if he wasn’t a strong driver?

  56. Malcolm says:

    I figured it out…

    RALF Schumacher!

    He’s got ties with Mercedes in DTM… ;-)

    Or would that be too shocking? haha.

    1. Josh says:

      Heidfeld? Yawn…

  57. Sebee says:

    Malcolm, you’re not the first one to think about Ralf.

    It makes sense for the name grab.

    Let’s not forget Ralf is only 34 years old. Also let’s not foget that Ralf can race just fine. He kept pretty darn close to Mantoya at competitive BMW-Williams. Toyota spoiled him with those fat crazy contracts and crappy cars. Pretty easy to get Schumacher name and Mercedes together this way. After all, it’s not like the Senna name that will be on the grid is the Senna we think about. Same with Ralf – you have the “brand”

    Obviously where there is a will, there is a way for Michael to come back with Mercedes. He is loyal to Ferrari, but more loyal to Brawn – who’s behind all his success. But does anyone honestly believe that he would do a deal with Mercedes only? It would have to be a 2 year deal, and it would be a fat contract with Mercedes, AND another fat contract with Bernie on the side – as we all know the ratings would go through the roof. Weber and Michael would be silly not to ask for a chunk of that. Their case was made when Michael announced that he will come back – didn’t the whole world go crazy? Didn’t Valencia ticket sales go in no time? Those type of deals – ones with Bernie, take time.

    Michael comeback for $10-20M is just not happening. It will take $100M/year minimum to get the man to give up time with family. If this happens it will not only make headlines for the comeback, but the numbers involved. It would take that much for me if I was in his shoes. He just doesn’t need the money or the championships. He can afford to look after what’s really important – his private life, his kids, his wife.

    P.S. Mercedes better be ready to commit to a championship car or huge monetary payout to Michael if the car is not in the top two constructor positions. I’d ask for that too if I was Michael. Wouldn’t you?

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