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Schumacher – it’s the moment of truth
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Dec 2009   |  8:01 pm GMT  |  195 comments

Michael Schumacher – back in Formula 1?

That is the word this weekend, thanks to an article in Bild, the German equivalent of the Sun.

Schumacher_Europe'09_023
There are two possible sources of this story – for as long as I can remember Bild has been Willi Weber’s favourite method of leaking stories. Weber is Schumacher’s manager. But Mercedes’ boss Norbert Haug has also been known to let things out through that route.

“The contract is ready to be signed,” said Bild, referring to the one year deal, supposedly agreed between the two sides.

Bild says that the announcement will come next week and if it does it will surprise most people in F1, me included; it’s hard to see what’s in it for Schumacher apart from getting some middle-aged kicks.

There is plenty in it for Mercedes and for Bernie Ecclestone and it would be a disaster for Ferrari, who will lose 15 years of expensively acquired brand association to a rival car company.

And on that side, there are some details here which don’t quite add up. Ferrari recently agreed a three year deal with Schumacher, although this has yet to be signed, we are told. But I know for a fact that there are separate contracts in place with Ferrari sponsors, which would clash with a Mercedes deal. As late as the end of last week those sponsors had not been approached about releasing Schumacher from his obligations.

This is perhaps the purpose and timing of the Bild story, to present a fait accompli to Schumacher’s existing employers. It’s the ‘moment of truth’ and it looks like both Schumacher and Mercedes are up for it. So now it’s a question of whether his employers are up for letting him go quietly.

Ever since Jenson Button made the dramatic decision to quit Brawn Mercedes and move to McLaren, Ross Brawn and his team have been looking for a response.

There is an old saying, “In F1 you are either taking pain or giving it,” and when Brawn pinched Mercedes, McLaren responded vigorously, by seducing their champion driver. He was ripe for it, as Brawn was not giving him what he wanted, having lost a bit of faith in the driver after his mid season wobbles.

One of the Brawn management figures said to me, “As one door closes, another one opens up,” and this is what has led to the evaluation of drafting in Michael Schumacher. It involved Schumacher testing his fitness and no doubt lengthy discussions with Ross Brawn; between these men there are no secrets.

This will not hit McLaren where it hurts, this is about saving face for Mercedes.

Schumacher must know that and it is odd in many ways that a seven times world champion is prepared to offer himself up to be played in that way. Schumacher always set the agenda in his career, he made people bend to his will.

The Button door had to close before the Schumacher door opened up.

Damon Hill has suggested that a comeback year offers Schumacher the chance to improve his image, but what’s done is done and it’s hard to see what he could do this year to change that.

Button is quoted in today’s News of the World saying that Schumacher is on a hiding to nothing by coming back. Implicit in this is a veiled insinuation that the Mercedes car may not be the pace setter next season.

“Schumacher coming back to F1 is great news for the sport,” Button said, “But I don’t know if it will be great news for Michael Schumacher. He will be putting his reputation on the line coming back into the sport.”

Lance Armstrong has come back this year in a much more physically demanding sport and done well. He is not at the peak of his earlier career, but he’s enjoying himself. This may well have influenced Schumacher, who has appeared bored by life without racing since he stopped.

Meanwhile Schumacher’s former Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa is to have another test in the 2007 Ferrari before Christmas, which is permitted under testing restrictions.

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195 Comments
  1. Matthew H says:

    Schumacher is easy to predict.. essentially you take anything Sabine Kehm says, and assume the opposite. ;)

  2. Andy says:

    I think this would be great for f1. I suspect that ms got more excited than expected when the return was muted last season.

    This may be a chance too good to miss out on.

    Some were saying could mercedes afford michael. He doesn’t need the money. I think it’s a great way to bow out.

    1. Ted the Mechanic says:

      Quite agree this would be great for F1 if it happens.

      “Bild says that the announcement will come next week and if it does it will surprise most people in F1, me included; it’s hard to see what’s in it for Schumacher apart from getting some middle-aged kicks.”

      I understand that many people will be surprised if it does happen. Cold hard logic, commonsense and maybe a person carefully-choreographing a career path in a political or corporate crucible aiming to capitalise on past glory and achievements would not even contemplate a comeback such as this. However…

      This is Michael Schumacher we are talking about. A racer at heart, a racer mentality, a racer with unfinished business… Who beat him in those last two years of his career? Who is sitting in the driver’s seat of his old car? Who would he enjoy beating next year?

      One respected champion foe from yesteryear, two new champions, three other top teams, four new teams…

      Yes he does seem to get his kicks from driving racecars and competing on a track. Is that really so bad or hard to believe? Many drivers in other forms of motorsport compete at the top level well into their 50′s and even 60′s in some cases. Yes this is F1 and maybe people think that youthful reflexes and unsullied minds and fear receptors are necessary to win in F1.

      I hope Michael does return to the cockpit to race a Silver Arrow. I hope he does explode the age-ist myths about who can and can’t win in F1. If he fails at least he fails while aiming high, if he wins, he wins it all – all new respect, all new fans, all new territory, all he thought possible.

      But whatever happens nothing changes for me. He’ll still be the legend I love to rave about.

      1. Paul says:

        Yep, That never had a team mate that was allowed to race fairly against him.

  3. Jim Tendy says:

    Schumacher puts his reputation on the line racing go-karts. He really doesn’t care about the notion his reputation will be tarnished. This is a man who is prepared to be beaten by a bunch of guys in karts (that many in the mass car media LOVE to ignore despite their amazing talents and skills) and he doesn’t act embarressed, in fact it’s the completre opposite.

    This is a man who wants to test himself constantly, and his behavour recently makes me feel he wants to go back into F1. Why the hell would a man of 40 punish his body so hard testing karts (apart from neck, are as, if not more, physically demanding than an F1 car).

    He’s coming back!

    1. AndyFov says:

      I don’t think he is putting his reputation on the line. However it goes it’s not going to erase or undo his previous achievements.

      Provided he’s not humbled by Rosberg, and that’s unlikely IMO, I don’t see much potential downside for him.

  4. kat says:

    You Mr. Allen did not achieve much in F1 and you are trying to comment about what a SEVEN TIMES WDC can do?

    1. Josh says:

      Don’t be so rude! He’s a journalist (it’s his job). Keep up the good work James! :D

    2. Woffin says:

      Im sorry but I fail to see the relevance of these two points? Mr. Allen was not a driver like the SEVEN TIMES WDC was, and still is. Also if I am not mistaken I believe it is Mr. Allen’s job to comment on things.

    3. Tom Moitie says:

      And what have you achieved in journalism?

    4. Tonksy says:

      Is seems you’re insinuating that James doesn’t know what he’s talking about – why on earth are you reading this blog then?

    5. Albevo says:

      The exact reason I come to this site is to read Mr Allen’s comments about such people as a Seven Times WDC. MS drives a car fast, JA writes fantastic articles, we each have our gift. Show some respect!

    6. CTP says:

      et tu, brute?

    7. jose says:

      having a bad day? don’t worry tomorrow will be better.

    8. the other cold one says:

      On the contrary, Mr. Allen has achieved a great amount in F1 – look at the amount of inside knowledge, understanding of the politics, reading between the lines, general appreciation of the situation, and whats going on both on and off the track. Compare this to a certain Mr EJ, who, as far as I understand, cannot put two sensible words together (when two hundred will do), and he ran a team!

      One other aspect of the high esteem in which I hold Mr. Allen is the way in which casual and not so casual contributors to his column are, in the vast majority, extremely knowledgable themselves, and discussions are usually extremely interesting and fruitful.

      Of course, there are exceptions to this rule…

    9. Renn Sport says:

      Go away! I am tired of reading rubbish like this on the Autosport forum. People such as yourselves are just haters.

      Well done James Allen for bringing us up to date informative news. Also engaging and discussing his points with us directly.

      Cheers James.

  5. Ronnie Mirza says:

    James as much as I would love to see Schumi raching again I dont think that at this particular juncture the comeback will add to his legacy. I would hate to see him linger around mid-field scrapping for points.
    Do you think we are in store for some vintage Schumi magic or middle age man being mauled??

  6. feynman says:

    “for a brief moment, I felt alive again”

    I dunno, we can all probably spend a lot of time overthinking this, talking about reputation and PR and contracts and who’s giving who black-eyes … but the recollection of a visibly broken-looking Schumacher post-Ferrari-cancellation-interview probably knocks all that other jazz into a cocked hat.

    If somehow, round the houses, a viable chance has now re-presented itself, then who knows; once more just for old times sake.

  7. i would love to see him return, but i would be sad to see him struggle. If he’s bored and looking for some fun then all the best to him but i dont want to see him appear slow next to the new breed

    1. Josh says:

      Whether Schumacher is quick or not isn’t the question, what really deserves our thought is whether schumi is really prepared to throw away a fifteen year in the making/and some other form of sporting future with Ferrari (and Italy for that matter)! Northampton for Marenello?? Please.

      “i dont want to see him appear slow next to the new breed”

      Are you kidding. The German mastermind will be blindingly quick, and will give those new kids a hiding. period.

      but will he really walk out on FerrarI? ….. i’ll be speechless if he does.

  8. Andrew says:

    Why leave Ferrari and go to mercedes for 1 years racing?? i cant see MS winning the WDC again..

    Are Merc offering him a higher role from 2011 onwards??

    Have u heard anything james about Schumacher future involment with Mercedes other than race driving?

    1. Roberto says:

      Ferrari should now for some time that MS wanted a comeback and that´s way they were pushing for a third car. If a contract was signed or verbally agreed between MS and Ferrari i´m sure it will have a clause were MS is free to go if he finds a drive.

      At 40 he is stil beating guys all around, specially in karts which is the form of racing more comparable to F1 hat he can drive. In the ROC he was second and first, In Massa´s event in Brazil he was the overall winner as recently in Las Vegas.

      Hopefully he will comeback and i think here we have a sum of he´s will to racing and the comercial benefits that Bernie and Mercedes are pushing to achieve.

      The only way he can make an spot in his reputation is if Nico beat him constantly, which i think it will happen a bit at the begininng due MS hasn´t driven an actual F1 car yet. Surely he will be fight hard for top positions and if hwe doesn´t win the championship at least he will be between the 4 top drivers which is prety good considering a 3 year retirement and a totally new formula.

      Your thoughts on this James?

      1. James Allen says:

        Both are adapting to new teams, but Schuey has the intuitive understanding with Ross Brawn and it will be hard for Rosberg to break into that. However, Rosberg represents the future whereas Schumacher is short-term

  9. Darren says:

    Michael is the most loyal driver ever in the history of F1, fast drivers go after fast cars, Michael went to Ferrari where it had all the money with a poorly managed team. The dream team is no longer there and there is this new regime at Ferrari. The moment you think of Schumacher you think of Ferrari, you think of those good and sad moments. If Michael goes to Mercedes i would be happy for him, but again i feel sorry for Ferrari as they will have another 21 years of drought.

    1. Ted the Mechanic says:

      I think you are seriously underestimating Team Ferrari circa 2010 and their two five star drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

      I will not take it as read that the reds are dead just because you said as Michael heads off to a silver sunset…

      But like you I am quite happy for Michael to rise to the challenge.

  10. Dale says:

    I’d love him to come back just to see his arse kicked by, Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, Massa, Webber, Button and maybe even his teammate (assuming he’d be allowed to race him).
    I for one do not subscribe to the view he was as great as the statistic say and he’s known to make many mistakes when the pressures on and it will be surrounding by several young guns looking to prove themselves against him possibly in faster cars.
    I also don’t think the current cream would put up with his old driving style and he may well find he has more than a few offs (I don’t care who you are, age waits for nobody and old bodies don’t bounce like young ones) as they wouldn’t yield or hold back in attempting to overtake should he be in front – bring in I say……D)

    1. RON says:

      You sound like a Kimi fan… a strong imagination with no relation to reality.

  11. Tarek says:

    I don’t think Michael Schumacher’s reputation would be at risk if he were to come back, as Jenson Button suggested. Why? Because great sportsmen remain great in the history books based on their achievements during the pinnacle of their careers. So although Niki Lauda and Alain Prost both managed to win championships after coming back from retirement (or sabbaticals), they are justifiably best remembered for their performances during their peak years (for Lauda, mid-to-late ’70s, and mid-to-late ’80s for Prost). But the best parallel I can find here is the career of basketball legend Michael Jordan. Nobody remembers Michael Jordan for his brief stint in the 2000′s after coming out of retirement, and yet his greatness did not diminish after this seemingly ill-judged return because of the legacy he set in the 1990′s. So if Michael Schumacher does not perform well at Mercedes, which is unlikely anyway, it will by no means damage his reputation.

    On a different note, I don’t understand why people are expecting Mercedes to be off the pace next year in comparison with McLaren and Ferrari. Remember: they began work on their 2010 car early, compromising their performance during the latter stages of 2009. This may well pay off. Another point to consider is that Schumi would probably not return in 2010 unless he thought there was a good chance of having a race-winning machine at his disposal; such is his competitive spirit. But then again, perhaps it is an overzealous misjudgement on his part to come back in a car which may not be the fastest next year, and run the risk of being outpaced by Rosberg. However, I do think he’ll beat Rosberg, and by a comfortable margin, once the season is over.

    1. Stephen Kellett says:

      What if the car does have race winning pace – that isn’t enough is it? Is Schumacher’s style kind to the tyres?

      1. Stephen Kellett says:

        That is what I was thinking. I think he is a stellar driver. But two weak points:
        1) Starts (without traction control). Never his best point.
        2) Tyre usage. I don’t think he is the worst, but he is not in the Jenson category of getting the most from them either.

        Other replies point to his adaptability. Sure, I’m not taking away from that. Those replies miss the point. I’m curious as to how next years regulations which completely change how you have to treat the tyres, will benefit or compromise Michael. I think the latter, regardles of how he can adapt (same for Lewis). We’ll have to wait and see.

      2. Tarek says:

        Nevertheless, James (among numerous other F1 journalists and insiders) have often pointed to a strength in the Schumi armory, and that is his adaptability. This means he can make the necessary adjustments to his driving based on different conditions and still extract the maximum from the car in almost any circumstance. This quality is one that separates legends like Schumacher from the merely very good. Lewis Hamilton has recently also been praised for possessing qualities similar to Schumacher and Senna, overcoming a difficult car in 2009 to lead McLaren to 3rd in the constructors’ championship.

    2. Fufflevalve says:

      Well said Tarek, exactly how I was going to respond until I saw your reply. :)

  12. Dave Smith says:

    I can say as a ferrari fan I always supported Schumacher but feel a bit annoyed that ferrari didnt sense the fact that the aborted comeback wetted his appetite for F1. They should have offered him Kimi’s seat for 1 year before bringing in Alonso in 2011. I say that should he be on the grid next year it will be a HUGE own goal by ferrari. And I will be upset as Schumacher was Ferrari as much as Ferrari was Schumacher. Replacing him with Kimi was never a wise move!!!

    1. Elliot says:

      Don’t agree here; I feel Ferrari aren’t massively bothered about Schumacher leaving for Mercedes. It’s a different organisation to the one Michael led so brilliantly (no Todt, Brawn) – and they see this as the birth of the Alonso era. They’re so confident in Fernando they’re stepping aside with grace.

      1. James Allen says:

        Read my previous post about Mercedes launching a road car into Ferrari’s sector..

      2. Elliot says:

        Just read it – very interesting, James.

        However, like a want-away football player, is there any point keeping an employee whose heart is elsewhere? Could Schumacher really deliver value to Ferrari knowing they deprived him of “one last shot”?

        Surely Ferrari have had full value from Michael Schumacher over the years and a bit of decency will prevail?

  13. Jake Pattison says:

    I don’t understand all this talk about “what is MS trying to prove”, or “he has nothing to gain”.

    He has nothing to prove, and his legendary status can only be improved upon no matter how he fares.

    Anyway, this is Schumacher we are talking about here, not Hakkinen or Hill (good drivers both of them but not a patch on Schumi), and a couple of years of age on him wont make any difference.

    He and Brawn will be fighting for wins, if not the championship.

    Which also makes me wonder how much he has been influenced by Valentino Rossi. A man he would know very well and admire greatly, and who’s own partnership with Jeremy Burgess has been decisive in terms of title victories.

    Cheers,
    Jake

    1. Elliot says:

      Unlike Damon, Mika was every bit a peer with Schumacher. Michael confesses this himself.

      1. Jake Pattison says:

        The record books show otherwise.

    2. the other cold one says:

      Didn’t Schumacher himself have the greatest respect for Häkkinen, and say that he was the only driver that he really feared – that in itself says a lot for the qualities of the silent Finn…

      1. Jake Pattison says:

        I never said Hakkinen was not a good driver.

  14. Renn Sport says:

    Big words from Button. Jense needs to worry about Lewis before bringing thunder against MS.

    How will it look if Michael whoops em all… who will be more embarrassed? A 40 year old man taking you all on and I for one will see where the Red Baron ends up come Abu Dubai.

    Schumacher and Senna in the same race. Awesome.

    Michael can make amends and cement his legacy.

    1. Trixie says:

      Unless of course, if he fails to make his “comeback” for the 2nd time should he not pass the mandatory F1 fitness test….Now that would be a real embarrassment!

  15. Dougal says:

    There is no down side to this for Schumacher or Mercedes.

    For the three pointed star there is a huge amount of brand promotion in the pipeline if it happens. Plus a huge developmental talent they could use for their road cars.

    For Schumacher, if he does well then he cements the reputation he already has. If he fails to make the grade then he is brave for trying.

    Its one of those situations where even if you don’t win, you won’t automatically lose as a result.

    1. Tarek says:

      Yes, plus Michael will be of great assistance in developing a potentially championship-winning car for 2011, when it is presumed that Vettel will join Rosberg. So even if the results do not come automatically next year, having Schumi onboard can only improve Mercedes’ chances of being competitive in the long run.

  16. Nick F says:

    Ha! great news. I’m hoping this thing turns out to be true. From a fans perspective this is great. more competition, more drama, more stories.

    The only reservation I would have now this thing looks more like happening is the Brawn car. What kind of state is it going to be in next year? they did great this year, but only for half a year. if you divide the last 3 years into half year blocks that gives you a 1/6 chance of a good car. …OK maybe that’s a dumb way to look at it, but still it will be interesting to see if last year was a one off or not.

    Hey James, I was wondering what the chances are that Mercedes has nicked all of Mclarens data? I guess by the time they bought into Brawn the car was a at an advanced stage of its development, but still how does this type of thing work? Mercedes had an intimate relationship with Mclaren and they know everything about last years car and loads about the new car don’t they?

  17. Rudy Pyatt says:

    James, the Lance Armstrong comparison is an excellent observation. I’d add Valentino Rossi to that. Schumi going to Mercedes and reuniting with Ross Brawn feels a lot like Rossi and his crew chief Jeremy Burgess leaving Honda together, after years of dominance there, for Yamaha. And they immediately began winning championships. IF Schumi comes back (and I still think he shouldn’t, for his safety, and for his family’s peace of mind), I suspect he may well get title number eight in like manner.

    There are rumors that Rossi will move to Ducati, a great Italian racing for THE Italian marque, Ferrari aside. IF Schumi goes to MB, a great German racing for THE German marque. “Cry ‘havoc’, and let slip the dogs of war,” indeed.

    Gee whiz golly. If Peter Sauber pulls the ultimate stealth move and gets an Audi(!) engine, we’ll have Auto Union too…

    1. alex m says:

      Rossi’s move to Yamaha was not just a case of “immediately began winning championships” … Valentino became the first and only person to ever change teams and win the first race of the season with the new team.

      Check out Rossi vs Biaggi at Welkom, his first Yamaha race, lap after lap he beats the second best rider in the world, on a clearly inferior bike, with Godlike ability and more determination and hunger than I believe we will ever be priveleged to see from any other Sportsman in our lifetimes.

      Rather than just sititng on his immense pile of Laurels, he continues to pull off the kind of legandary moves you see of Future Champions, not 9x WCs. Casey at Laguna Seca and earlier this year, stuffing Jorge Lorenzo in an utterly impossible move on the last corner of the last lap, in front of JL’s home crowd in Barcelona.

      People of such abilities are rare animals, that is why I want to see MS back in F1, I have a lot more respect for him seeing as how he wants to come back and race, it is not just an egotistical trip solely to puff up his statistics.

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        Oh yes! With you on all counts on this. Rossi going to Ducati would give him the trifecta, as MS going to MB would be.

  18. Paul Mc says:

    If this turns out to be true i guess some people owe Eddie Jordan an apology.

    Nevermind the current drivers or teams its the fans and especially newcomers to the sport who will benefit from his comeback. A chance to see one of the sports greats back in the cockpit of an F1 car.

    I know ill be booking my tickets

  19. Lustigson says:

    My goodness, is it actually about to happen? Unbelievable!

    Of course, multiple World Drivers’ Champion returning after some time is not unprecedented. Both Niki Lauda and Alain Prost managed to win another title on their return. But in Lauda’s case, he was only 33 on his comeback in 1982, and had the time and patience to work with a McLaren team on the up, while Prost, at 38, was almost guaranteed the 1993 (and 1994, he must have thought) title in the vastly superior Williams-Renault.

    But Michael Schumacher will be 41 come January, and he has won it all… and then some. A comeback with the marque that payed for his F1 debut, 19 (!) years ago next summer, would be nothing less than mythical, no matter what he achieves.

    Just imagine: 7-time Champion Michael Schumacher, with god-like status in Germany, gives his employer of old Mercedes-Benz, returning to Grand Prix racing with a factory effort, its first victory after 55 years.

    1. Tarek says:

      That’s a really great perspective on the issue!

  20. Thomas says:

    I think Jenson Button is dead right. Schumacher won’t come back just to enjoy himself. His aim can only be to be competitive in case of a return. But I can’t see him being that. I am sure he would be in best shape physically, but he has not done a race on a high level for 3 years and I just think this is way to much with the reduced winter testing these days.
    Saying that, he would be a great mentor for Rosberg (not sure if he wants to be that) and also would be a massive help developing the car.

    1. Kedar says:

      Either That or Rosberg will be taught on how to be the next Barrichello, It is expected Vettel would join Mercedes in 2-3 years and then Rosberg can ‘Barichello’ Vettel and help Vettel win championships

  21. Elliot says:

    Fingers, toes, everything crossed!

    I want to pay tribute to THE legend at Silverstone in July.

    But there’s no way he’s beating Hamilton, Alonso or Vettel! ;D

  22. Alex Yarnell says:

    In terms of an agenda might not Shumi relish the prospect of providing Montezemolo with some irritation for having a hand in his exit in 2006?

  23. Terry says:

    James’ book Michael Schumacher: the edge of greatness makes the point repeatedly that Michael wishes to repay any debts he may have. One of his great debts is towards Mercedes for having recruited him in their GT team and then for their behind the scenes work which paved the way for him to go on to F1 with Jordan and Benetton.

    But repaying them this way and now rather than rejoining them as an adviser in a few years? I’m starting to wonder if Michael feels he “owes” nothing to di Montezemolo, and if his relationship with Ferrari has been forever damaged since 2006 when Luca was pushing for Kimi.

    1. Tarek says:

      Michael owes absolutely nothing to Ferrari. They, by contrast, owe everything to him and the people he brought with him from Benetton. The fact is, Michael Schumacher was the only driver in the post-Senna era capable of resurrecting Ferrari by acting as a driving force, on and off the track, delivering the results by driving his car on the limit as nobody else could, while building a team around him and working long hours to improve the competitiveness of the package. Until Ferrari, of course, became the dominant force it was in the early 2000′s. But it would not have been possible if Michael hadn’t joined the team in 1996. It is quite conceivable that Ferrari would have still been winless (in terms of WDC’s) since 1979 had Michael taken the decision to stay at Benetton or join McLaren-Mercedes.

  24. Dean Coulter says:

    The fact Micheal Schumacher has been absolutely silent since these rumours started says alot. If there was no truth behind it, Schuy would have denied it all weeks ago.

    I would imagine he learnt from the Felipe accident not to raise his hopes and those of the publics by fueling speculation, and thus his silence.

    So if Schuy is ready, and Mercedes are ready. Can he sign a contract. I would imagine they won’t let him simply go to a major competitor. Not with Ferrari and Mercede’s production cars going head to head.

    Surely Mercedes have a better chance of getting Kubica onboard, if his Renault contract falls through.

  25. John says:

    Ferrari should offer up Massa to Mercedes and put Schumacher in their own car alongside Alonso. It saves Ferrari the embarassement of Schumacher selling SLS’s over 458′s.

  26. randal says:

    If Schumacher does sign with Merecedes, will you issue an apology for the repeated snarky comments directed towards Eddie Jordan when he first broke this story?

    1. James Allen says:

      I didn’t make negative comments about Eddie at the time. Maybe another site?

      1. PaulL says:

        Yeah I thought James was ultra-tactful over that one.

    2. jose says:

      I see people starting to get agresive with james. This is something new. Why? The guy is ok. And even if he is not totally objective, then again who is?

  27. David Hamilton says:

    Please, please say it’s not true!

    Next season, with Massa, Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, Button, Webber, Rosberg all fighting it out was a really attractive prospect. Add to that the thought that Heidfeld finally in a competitive car might prove a revelation… but even Rosberg and Heidfeld running away with the season would be fresh and exciting.

    I don’t dislike Schumacher, but his ability to raise a team to opposition-crushing levels (either by fair means or otherwise), especially when combined with Ross, and now the money of Mercedes, fills me with a fear of all conquering Silver Arrows.

    1. Nick F says:

      This may be a very unfair thing to say, but I think the drivers in this era are more talented than the drivers Schumacher drove against. Hakkinen and Alonso both beat Schumacher and i’d rate them highly, but Hill, Villeneuve, Coulthard etc, I don’t think were at the Hamilton / Alonso / Vettel level.

      The cool thing about him coming back is it gives us a chance to compare him against the new crop of drivers. that’s the thing I’m excited about.

      If I thought he was going to come back and destroy everyone like before then I would hate the idea. I don’t think that will be the case though.

      1. James Allen says:

        I think I agree with you for the most part

      2. jose says:

        i agree. He won’t have the ferrari type dominance. First like you said, now the drivers are better, and he won’t be the best driver, in the best car, with the best tires.
        But lauda, in 1984 wasn’t the fastest either, but with the best car, he compensated that, with experience, and won his third title. We’ll see what he is able to achieve. A gp victory it’s more than possible.

      3. Jonathan Chan says:

        I’m actually against the idea, okay Shumacher is the most successful driver in Formula 1 but why on earth would you stick your reputation on the line in a new team?

        No Doubt the Germans will be going crazy over the idea as will Mercedes who are playing a very intelligent game here, secure Shumacher for 2 years retain him as an advisor to Mercedes and then seek Vettels services.

        I would love him to come back it adds further spice to the 2010 season, but I honestly believe that it’ll be cake a walk for Vettel, Alonso, Massa, Hamilton and Button…

        He hasnt raced F1 cars competitively for years and I’d expect that to show in volumes next season. However he could prove to be thorn in Nico’s side next season witht he odd victory which add to his legacy.

      4. darren says:

        You are totaly right, Im a massive Schumacher fan but have to admit the line up now is much stronger than in his day. If Senna had stayed safe you can easily say he would have won 2 or three of schumachers titles. On the other hand Schumacher can only beat the guys he is up against and he was easily the best so fair play to him. This is why I think he wants to come back, he wants to see how he fares with the current line up of drivers. I really hope he does come back, if the car is good he will be up there and i would bet he wins at least 1 race. He has experience of no refuelling and looking after tyres and with ross brawn as his tactician, he must feel confident. I really dont think his age comes into it at all. He will be fitter than some of the current drivers anyhow.

      5. rossetto says:

        “If Senna had stayed safe you can easily say he would have won 2 or three of schumachers titles. ”
        I do not think so.
        Senna was already struggling big time against MS on the last two season they raced together. Again by the time when MS won his first title with ferrari in 2000, Senna may have been already retired.

      6. darren says:

        MS had only won 2 GP prior to 1994, and until Sennas death had never claimed a pole position. Schumacher won the 1994 title by a mere 1 point from Hill. Most fans would agree Senna would have outscored hill so 1994 could have easily been Sennas and also the title which Damon won in 1996 also 1997 when JV won. Senna may well have retired by the time MS won his 1st title with Ferrari however you could argue Senna would have been driving for Ferrari and not MS so who knows. Scumacher was a great champ and easily the best of his day but he was in an era of little class competition. I really dont think he would have all his titles had Senna been around and I think more F1 fans would agree rather than disagree with me. Cant wait to see him return, 2010 will be the best for a long long time. If he wins the title I will have to re think my comments.

      7. David Hamilton says:

        The bit you’re missing out is Schumacher’s astonishing ability to motivate and focus a team around him. That has always been the part that distinguished him from his contemporaries.

        It took him three years to turn Ferrari around, but they were virtually incapable of winning a race. Mercedes, however, are already a championship winning team, have had the luxury of already having had 6 months to work on the new car, and now have the money that they were lacking before.

        Yes, I agree – Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel are exceptional drivers (no disrespect to those not in that group who are merely very, very good!) who should provide a stiffer challenge than in previous years.

        And yet, I still feel that the new season is exceptionally finely poised, like a delicately spiced dish, and adding MS into the mix is the extra ingredient that may just ruin the whole meal!

  28. lip_iceman says:

    The thing is, Schumacher brought with him to Ferrari a master strategist and director, arguably the one of the best designers, and a win-at-all-costs team manager. Ferrari went from winning a race or two per season after the late 70′s, to winning over a third of all their victories over their entire history at the wheel of Schumacher’s car alone, over a period of 10 years. No-one can school you in Schumacher stats James, but they imply that if anything, Ferrari owe more to Schumacher than the other way round. The disaster for Ferrari came from nudging out a man who was still at the top of his game. As I see it, Ferrari have themselves to blame if Schumacher “defects” to another team to race.

    As for Button’s comments: with as much respect as I can muster, I must say that they are rather arrogent. Putting his reputation on the line? Schumacher has nothing to prove, he will be the most successful driver for a long time to come. Having a go for a season won’t decrease his number of championships, and I very much doubt that his race craft will have diminished during his retired years (if he does come back, do you really see him doing a Badoer? Not a chance.)

  29. Nick Pauro says:

    I never thought I would say this, but Schuey, don’t come back!!!

    You don’t need to prove anything, not even to yourself, and you can get a buzz somewhere else!

    I am hoping nothing will come of the rumours as I really do not want to see him in a Merc… they may have given him his ‘break’, but Ferrari was what made him a legend… and obviously he returned the favour…

    However, with Ferrari pointing out that they now have a team ‘leader’ in Alonso and that Massa is the new ‘soul’ of the team who will spur all ‘the guys on’ which is pure-Schumacher-speak… perhaps Ferrari is readying rational and irrational fans like me for the defection of the rainmaster?

    Ross… please sign someone else! 1 fairytale year was enough, why not let some young blood go for it!?

    1. Elliot says:

      But he CAN’T get the buzz anywhere else – hence the “for a moment, I felt alive again” comment after his Massa gig fell through, plus James’ observation that Michael has “appeared bored” without F1.

      Plus, was Michael not a legend before Ferrari? Two WDCs is enough for many legends of the sport.

  30. martin_tf says:

    Hope this is true, he really could have a chance at the title next year and its sure to make for another interesting season.

  31. Werewolf says:

    Despite all the ostensibly warm sentiments between Schumacher and Ferrari and Brawn and Ferrari, it is worth remembering that both were, to a degree, forced out: Schumacher, who could have won at least another championship, for Raikkonen and Brawn, after his sabbatical eventually for Domenicali; and Ferrari rejected Brawn’s engine request, too. I also feel the new Alonso association will weaken Schumacher’s influence within the team.

    Schumacher may also feel the need to prove his failure to race a Ferrari this year was down to fitness and not cold feet over competitiveness.

    Commercial and driver partnerships change all the time. Fifteen years is considerably more than usual but ultimately it would be just another contractual arrangement coming to an end.

    The cost to Mercedes would be interesting to know though, as Schumacher may have to be bought out of some of his obligations, which would prove it chose not to pay Button rather than being unable to afford his demands.

    The odds are definitely shortening but I still cannot help the feeling this is all one big publicity shuffle. Mind you, both Schumacher’s working for the same German employer would be a real coup.

    1. Elliot says:

      But a publicity coup only works if you deliver. What happens if Mercedes publicity flirt with the greatest of all time and then deliver Nick Heidfeld – a good driver but not in the same league as Michael professionally or commercially?

    2. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Just to add to your “associations change” point Werewolf, Graham Hill was synonymous with BRM for nearly a decade before moving to, and winning with, Lotus. He also proved, with Jack Brabham and Dan Gurney – all of them racing in parts of three decades, in a variety of disciplines, in a much, much, much more dangerous era than now in every way; F1 cars that were little more than rolling gas tanks and on the limit with them at the REAL Spa and Nurburgring; crossing the Atlantic to race both Monaco and Indy – that age doesn’t automatically diminish skill.

      And this year Mark Martin (age 50) took the NASCAR title to the final round of a grueling 36 race schedule. It takes lots of skill and juevos to go door-to-door at 200 mph in a 43 car pack every week. He probably has shoes older than some of the young guys he embarrassed along the way.

      I think we’ve gotten so used to 19 and 20 year olds bursting onto the F1 scene that these examples are overlooked.

      IF Schumi comes back, school will be in for the kiddy korps.

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        And, of course, G. Hill was also returning to the team that gave him his first big break, just as Schumacher would be doing here.

      2. Werewolf says:

        Hill, Brabham and Gurney – now there’s greatness for you.

    3. Ambient Sheep says:

      I agree with most of your post, but Ferrari did NOT reject Brawn’s request for engines. In fact they were very keen to supply him, and one got the feeling that they were quite disappointed when he went for Mercedes instead – and the only reason he did so was that they fitted better into the gap left by the departed Honda block than the Ferrari engine did.

      I do get the feeling, however, that Ross was unhappy with the way that Ferrari treated Nigel Stepney: not AFTER he transgressed, perhaps, but the way they belittled and sidelined him early that year, thus provoking him to do the silly things he did in revenge. I got the impression from an interview that RB did at the time that he was less than impressed with Ferrari’s treatment of his old colleague, and that it was a significant (although probably not the biggest) factor in his not returning to the Scuderia after his sabbatical.

  32. Simo says:

    It would be great to see Schumacher racing against some of the young guns in F1 at the moment, but I still find it quite hard to believe that this will happen…

  33. Cabby says:

    With rumours being out so long, there is a point where you have difficulties to explain why you did not deny them earlier on, in case they turn out not to be true. Citing health reasons is not valid, this has been/had to be done before, so it can only be true…..

  34. Carl says:

    I’m surprised as well but i do think its going to happen. Just too much evidence pointing to it.

    I’m a fan of MS so will be good to see. Not bothered if he doesn’t win etc.

    I find it strange Jenson is worried that MS will damage his reputation. LOL with his move to Mclaren he should be worrying about his own reputation…

    Clearly MS still loves to race as we have seen bikes! karts etc and the new F1 format of zero testing will suit him. Less demands on his time, mainly just the race weekend.

    I suspect that he feels he owes a debt to Mercedes and he likes working with Ross Brawn.
    Probably feels on the outer at Ferrari his friends have all left the new guard at Ferrari apart from Massa don’t value him there.

    1. Paul says:

      Im with you. Big fan of Schuey and I cant see how a SEVEN time world champion can tarnish his reputation when he’s returning at the age of 40.

      As for Jense, like you say he needs to focus on Lewis, the faster man in the same car as him!

      Interesting point about his friends at ferrari, i reckon its more to with mr fernando joining. Alonso will make it abundantly clear MS’s presence is not warranted in the pit lane.

      1. Dale says:

        I’m a huge Hamilton fan but I think we may all be in for a surprise when the season starts, Button may well deliver the good far better than we think :!: :-D

      2. Paul says:

        I’m a huge Hamilton fan also, and despite what you may think i’m not a Jense hater, I think he’s a good driver so i’m positive he’ll have some races. But in my opinion he’s not an exceptional talent. He drives the car to a level that in my mind is expected. I feel Lewis goes beyond on many occasions.

        Having said that, the one saving grace for Jense may just well be the new regs regarding refueling that have a converse effect on the tyres. Something with which Lewis regularly struggles to preserve yet in Jense’s case he struggles to ‘Heat up/get working’ (apparantly). This is the only way I can see him getting the better of Lewis; when the tyres become critical and Lewis perhaps has to make an extra or unscheduled stop. Other than that I really just can’t see it.

        But then again I never thought that Felipe would’ve given such a good account of himself against Kimi so I am in the wrong ON OCCASION, lol. :)

  35. Bob Q says:

    I don’t quite understand the “He has nothing to gain” line of reasoning. Seems like he has nothing to lose- no matter what happens this year he is still 7 time WDC.
    Seems to me the entire upside is he gets to drive an F1 car again- and I find it hard to imagine a bigger upside than that.
    As for his “employers”- I surmise Michael could care less about anybody’s brand image and he just wants to drive again.
    I also don’t see why he couldn’t go right back to Ferrari after his comeback is over.Afterall, Do you think of Michael Jordan as Washington Wizard or Chicago Bull?

  36. Cabby says:

    Schumacher would help Mercedes in Germany enormously…

    1. Dale says:

      So says the Dandy :-D

  37. Tom Adams says:

    Im not a huge fan, but it would be interesting to see how he gets on. Im certain he would be on the pace… Do you think Villenueve has a chance at Renault, James?

    1. James Allen says:

      He didn’t make a great impression there when he did those few races for them at the end of 2005

      1. Kav says:

        You mean at the end of 2004 :)

    2. Dale says:

      No team can be that stupid can they :?: :-D

  38. Peter says:

    I don’t think age is the issue here for Schumacher if he returns. He was, and with a good fitness regime, will probably continue to be a beacon for fitness in f1 if he returns. He will to a 110% to get to peak fitness but how rusty will he be and what can Schumacher achieve after 3 years away from the sport?

  39. Peter says:

    Also Jenson is hardly going to say ‘bring it on’ is he. Bit of reverse psychology from Jenson there. If Schumacher wants to come back because he really wants to – then let him have his wish. He obviously has the passion and desire and is not going back on the basis of other reasons like money.

  40. Steve Selasky says:

    Wonder what is wife thinks about this?

    1. Dale says:

      What’s she got to do with it :?: :-D

      1. Steven Selasky says:

        Well she would have nothing to do with his driving.

        My understanding is through SpeedTv in USA she is not pleased. However, she should be glad he is channeling his energy in a more constructive approach unlike Tiger Woods and other………….

  41. yos says:

    Hello James, if micheal ends up in mercedes and if the 2010 mercedes is not a good car what are the chances that he will regret his come back? After all what does he want to prove?

    1. James Allen says:

      If it is not a car he can win with, it will clearly be a less impactful comeback. What made Armstrong’s comeback so good was that he was in contention for the Tour de France, for a while.

  42. Tomek says:

    James, do you happen to have your own sources when it comes to Renault – Kubica situation? L’eqipe and Corriere dello sport wrote that Kubica is believed to have a clause that would allow him to be released from contract if Renault ceases to be a major shareholder in its team. And if yes and in the same time Schumacher is not (yet) confirmed in Mercedes, do you think Kubica will take a gamble and stay in “new Renault” or will he move to Mercedes?

    1. James Allen says:

      I have been told that is not the case.

  43. The Limit says:

    It is a huge risk, but we all thought that fourteen years ago when Schumacher left Benetton for Ferrari. This man is not afraid of taking risks, so for him I am sure this is just another chapter in his life, not of too much concern.
    If anything, it is Jenson Button who has the most to lose, going toe to toe with Lewis Hamilton at McLaren. We have all seen with our own eyes just how good the Mercedes engines are, so I don’t see the Mercedes F1 team being that far off the pace. We must remember, Ferrari and McLaren were hampered in 2009 by their instense development into their 2008 cars. This will not happen in 2010, but neither will they dominate totally over Mercedes.
    I always felt that Schumacher left Ferrari in 2006 with unfinished business in Formula One. He certainly did not look like a man who wanted to retire, unlike the Ferrari team who were so impatient to put Raikkonen’s bum in the car.
    It is the classic counter punch, and one no one saw coming. Alonso/Massa in Ferraris’, Hamilton/Button in McLarens’, and Michael Schumacher in a Mercedes to spoil the party.
    Ecclestone’s juices must be flowing, along with mine!

  44. Giuseppe F1 says:

    A big question mark in all of this for me is Schumacher’s relationship and personal sponsorship with Shell. At all of MS’s karting events these past few years as well as events such as ROC, its evident that he enjoys significant Shell backing.

    Shell obviously partner with Ferrari in F1 and works Mercedes teams have traditionally been fuelled and lubricated by competitor Mobil1, who have even been mentioned as jumping ship completely from McLaren to back the Mercedes GP team only.

    Now, unless there is agreement between MS and Shell to terminate their agreement, could there be a scenario where perhaps, owing to Schuey putting this spanner in the works by becoming available, Mercedes/Mobil1 change tactic and stay with McLaren for this year, and Shell actually partners the works Mercedes team along with Schumacher and then they revert back to Mobil1 the year after when presumably Schuey moves aside for Vettel?

    Would Shell want to support 2 teams in F1 (Ferrari and Mercedes?) – and again, would Schumacher really give up a presumable multi-year and lucrative deal with Shell only to go F1 racing for a year…..thing is, I think he is at the stage where he would.

    As people have mentioned up thread, Michael’s own silence on the matter has been deafening almost and the fact he just simply hasnt come out with a response to disprove all these stories indeed suggests that this may actually happen

  45. Paul says:

    Whether he’s any good or not, you’ve got to be a bit slow to not want to see it. It’s Schumacher or Heidfeld? How boring does a Heidfeld/Rosberg combination sound? Holy hell, I’ll fetch the horlicks now.

    Whatever happens, you will not be able to detract from the Schumacher legacy, no way. If he fails, he’s still the most successful driver we’re ever likely to see. If he does alright, he adds to it.

    I don’t really think Schumacher himself, at this point in his life, gives a toss about his reputation. He’s got money coming out of the crack between his buttocks; he’s got a good family, the man just loves racing and what a test this would be?

    Typical British reserve has peppered this whole story with an undertone of critical scepticism and it sickens me, we are so boring.

    1. Dale says:

      Got to admit the pairing you suggest is pretty boring ZZZzzzz…

    2. David Hamilton says:

      I think Rosberg will give a big sigh of relief if MS is his teammate, rather than Heidfeld.

      After all, if MS beats him, well, there’s no shame in that – being slower than a 7-time champion is probably to be expected.

      However, if Heidfeld beats Rosberg (which, IMHO, he is more than likely to do) then it’s not going to be a great career move, especially with Vettel looming up as next team mate.

      Since Heidfeld has already outscored Raikkonen, Massa, Villeneuve, Webber and Kubica, it’s a good bet that he’ll do the same to Rosberg.

      BTW: How is it possible for a driver to beat all the above drivers on a regular basis and still not be rated?

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        Thank you for taking the words out of my mouth on Heidfeld. Underrated. Severely. I guess he’s just not vocal enough, or young enough, now, to grab the attention.

        Mind you, the team had to stop him from letting loose a real flying lap in the BMW on that PR run at the (real) Nurburgring a few years back. That he was out there at all, let alone wanting to go for it as he was, puts him way up there for brass attachments…

  46. JonW says:

    I hope Rosberg or his lawyer read his contract carefully before signing it!

    Or maybe Michael wants to prove he can beat a teammate fair and square for the first time in his career?

    1. Dale says:

      Beat his teammate fair and square, first his teammate would need to be treated fair and square by the team, something that has NEVER happened during his career. It is for this reason what he, regardless to what many say, be one of the true greats of F1 and it’s why Senna stands tall against ALL others as the absolute No1 of all time to date :!: :)

    2. Lockster says:

      Well, perhaps James can comment on Martin Brundle’s insights into being Schumacher’s team mate.

      If memory serves, I vaguely recall Martin talking about literally scratching his head while trying to figure out how Michael managed to get such massive speed out of the car.

      Regardless of any “Contractual Agreements” that may have existed at Ferrari, I am yet to hear a single teammate say that they thought that they could beat Michael over a season. Period.

      they might have been asked to “move over” occassionally but that was only because MS missed out on the WDC so narrowly in ’97 and ’98 (in an inferior car) which made Ferrari management ultra-parranoid about him collecting EVERY possible point available to ensure that it didn’t happen again.

      Michael is the greatest driver ever and any ex team mate that has a sook about “if only’s” and “what if’s” are just bitter that they just weren’t fast enough.

      Lets face it, if a teammate turned up that showed that he could blow Schumacher’s doors off, don’t you think that those special clauses would have been “loop-holed” by Ferrari management?

      Come back Michael, beat Ferrari/Alonso and make Montezemolo realise what a mistake he made by pushing you out at the end of 2006!

  47. Francisca Cecilia says:

    As a big fan of MS since 1992, I’m hoping that the rumours are true! Would be magic to see the maestro racing again! James, in your opinion… Will Michael give it a go once again? And how competitive can he be?

  48. Alan. Zechter says:

    Nobody has mentioned the fact that Nico Rosberg may have to play number two to Schumacher if this thing comes off.

    Surley Mercedes can’t have Rosberg beat Schumacher on a consistent basis otherwise they may lose some of the appeal that Schumacher brings. E.g. If Rosberg beats Schumacher to the title, wouldn’t that make Schumscher obsolete as far as marketing is concerned?

    1. James Allen says:

      That would not be the way it would work. However I made the point here that Rosberg’s father Keke was the most outspoken critic of Schumacher, calling him a ‘cheap cheat’ after the Monaco track blocking incident in 2006

      1. Dale says:

        Throughout his career he’s used his political skills to get the team t toe his line and IF he did come back it’d be no different :!

    2. jose says:

      He would rather have heidfeld on the other car, but now he has schumacher. Now is the time to show if he has the speed, or if he is boutsen clon, like patrick head implied this season.

      1. Nick F says:

        Yeah. surely a great opportunity for Rosberg. If he loses to Schumacher then, he lost to a 7 time world champion, and what really could he have done to beat him. If he beats Schumacher then game on. His worth goes up a lot.

        The danger situation for his reputation would be if he was always half a second behind. If he is a Massa / Barrichello type distance behind then that is not too bad for him and his career.

      2. James Allen says:

        Massa was ahead quite a bit of the time…Rubens too on some tracks like A1 Ring. More interesting is the animosity between Schumacher and Rosberg’s father.

  49. Tony Vigna says:

    Schumacher’s return is a good thing for F1. If anything, it shows that the driver is still important after all.

  50. guy says:

    Similar to Fangio leaving Ferrari for Maserati and winning…

  51. john g says:

    still refusing to believe, until contracts are signed. sure he was the best driver of his generation but he’s 40 something now – i don’t see why he would want to come back for mercedes, and don’t see why mercedes would want him for the reasons previously discussed on this site.

  52. Sebee says:

    We expect so much from him due to his 15 seasons that anything but a top 3 finish in the standings wil leave us disappointed.

    I said it before and I’ll say it again, Ross is the man, and that duo is tops when it comes to championships and wins. I think we won’t be let down.

    As for Button, he really shouldn’t talk. His remarks are irrelevant and will only provide motivation. If there ever was a driver that lucked into a championship, he is it.

    1. Jomy John says:

      “We expect so much from him due to his 15 seasons that anything but a top 3 finish in the standings wil leave us disappointed.”

      THAT IS SO FREAKIN TRUEE!!!!

      The only thing that has me a bit concerned is … The Schumacher-Brawn partnership had its big success in the PIT-FUEL era. Now with F1 having gone back to cars fully loaded with fuel, I wonder if the partnership is gonna be as successful as it was at Ferrari.

  53. Qiang says:

    I think many of us are worrying too much for Michael. Let him drive and we will have lots of fun. I guess Nico will have to absorb the most shock of the events.

    1. jose says:

      At 40, in the middlelife crisis, some of us buy a porsche. He get’s a competitive f1 car to bring back the excitement. Lucky devil.
      But don’t forget who he is. The best racing driver since Ayrton senna. So we back you on this one 100%.

  54. timem1 says:

    I’m not sure how this situation represents Schumi being “played.” He’s a very astute operator and my bet is he’s going to have some serious demands of Mercedes before he commits to them. They need him more than he needs them. A team run by Brawn and backed by a big manufacturer like Mercedes with a guy like Schumi at the wheel could be a devastating force in F1. The best engine in the sport, the best tactician in the pitlane, and the best driver in history is no small thing. If Schumi can wrap the team around his finger like he did at Ferrari, he’ll be just fine.

  55. LoudHoward says:

    ’06 was all a bit of a fast wrap up to his career for me, I think it would be great for him to have a bit of an encore year, everyone would get a chance to go and see him again and would be a pretty big celebration of F1.

    If he’s competetive then it would just be a bonus, I think he’d have fun just driving, Merc would get huge exposure out of it and even Ferrari would good if they let him go without any whining.

  56. Matt W says:

    I don’t see how Schumacher has anything to lose. His reputation will remain pretty much as it is barring any kind of Tiger Woods or Zidane incident.

    People just need to be realistic.

    1. Dale says:

      Sad old man not being able to let go of the past, like an old heaveyweight boxer trying to beat time only to ruin what went before :?

  57. Bog says:

    Guys, if this turns out to be true then, and maybe I’m out of my depth here, but then I’d say Ross knew well before Jenson’s departure to McLaren about this being a possibility.
    I’d even go that far by saying he “masterminded”, as the word goes, all this months ahead..

    Otherwise why wouldn’t Schumacher sign the pending contract with Ferrari!

    Only time will tell..

    1. Dale says:

      You may well have a point here :?

  58. FAster says:

    Why come back? That’s what I and most people who are not raving shumacher fans are wondering. Yeah sure it’s good for f1 but whats the point of hurting Ferrari so badly just for a year of F1 of probably geting beaten by atleast 3 of the top drivers. If I was Ferrari I would not let this happen for their sake. Schumacher you have had your turn give someone else a chance.

    1. Dale says:

      Excellent point as hurt Ferrari it certainly would :!:
      If Ferrari is the family they always talk about it’d be pretty rotten to stab them where it hurts wouldn’t it :?: :?

  59. Turtle says:

    Alonso on Ferrari
    Hamilton on McLaren
    Button on McLaren
    Vettel on RedBull

    + Schumacher on Mercedes

    This will be the Hell :)

  60. khan says:

    Look at the drivers market and you realize that there is not much out there. No A lister available apart from pulling kubica out of his contract at Renault. Heidfeld? not sure

    Its definately going to happen. Everything pointing in this direction.

  61. Tom Gower says:

    Autosport reported this week that Ralph confirmed M Schumacher is going through heavy fitness training, and implied it was for a comeback.

  62. Jonathan says:

    James Allen wrote: “It’s hard to see what’s in it for Schumacher apart from getting some middle-aged kicks.”

    But this is exactly the point. Some sportsmen can retire happily to their families and their money, having achieved everything they wanted to achieve.

    Schumacher isn’t like that. He is addicted to the adrenaline. Just look at his ridiculous attempt to get competitive on a motorbike.

    This man lives to go fast. Mercedes may not set the pace next year, but you can be sure the car will be faster than a Fiat on the school run, and that’s why Schumacher is interested.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m beginning to realise that this is true. Schumacher is coming back. Incredible

      1. CptZorg says:

        I don’t doubt for a moment he wouldn’t physically & mentally up for it, I just can’t believe such contractual machinations are possible. Apart from all the talk of allegiance and the Ferrari family, there must be a couple of trailerfulls of contracts and millions in advertising money to shake off as well. The only way I can see it happening is if the Pope himself had a hand in it. James, do you know if Mr Ratzinger pulled strings on this one?

      2. Mark Stephens says:

        Rumor from a friend this morning is that Schuey didn’t attend the Ferrari Christmas Lunch because he is going to Mercedes. Should be good information, it’s my ticket to the Luca M signed leather bound desktop diary every year.

      3. James Allen says:

        Thanks. I’ve verified this. Montezemolo apparently spoke about Raikkonen, Massa and Alonso, but did not mention Schumacher once

      4. Kakashi says:

        when i first saw his name on a betting website i couldn’t believe myself… now it seems it might just be true.. what a season in waiting for us all!!!!
        i hope to see all these drivers fighting hard on the track!

      5. Tarek says:

        James, you’ve played the role of the rational observer, and rightly so, when refusing to believe that Schumi was coming back. Your explanation as to why there would be no comeback was intelligent, convincing, straight to the point, and rational. But now you (and almost everybody else, myself included) have realized that Michael Schumacher’s passion and desire to jump into an F1 car supersede any rational considerations. When considering Michael’s unmatched success in F1, plus the fact that he has very little, if anything, to prove, his mere willingness to return to such a competitive environment speaks volumes about his status as an absolute legend, and also underlines what a great ambassador he is for motorsport. He has managed to confound us all in recent weeks with this Mercedes comeback story, and now it seems to be only a matter of time until a deal is officially announced. Bring on 2010. Can’t wait to see James Allen analyzing (and perhaps commentating on?) Michael Schumacher’s performances on this blog next year!

      6. James Allen says:

        Tarek, it looks like you are right. I’ve been doing a lot of digging and it seems to be happening. Astonishing!

      7. TinyJim says:

        As I say James, no man of 40+ years old puts himself through the torture of racing KZ2 karts, getting beat along the way, on a regular basis without some reason. Of course he’s coming back.

  63. Jingjing says:

    I’m watching F1 from 2007,just after Schumacher retired~~So look forward to his return~~

  64. the other cold one says:

    Of course all the current drivers would want to go wheel to wheel in an F1 car with arguably the greatest driver. But the question comes, how much have the cars fundamentally changed since MS was on top form, and how much has the racing mentality changed. We saw how difficult it was for Badoer and especially Fischella to get to grips with the KERS system on the Ferrari, among other things. This could all end in a lot of tears – and there may be a lot of bragging rights going – I’m better than a 7-time world champion…

    Also, one of the wonderful aspects of the current crop of drivers is how evenly matched they are – any one of four or five (more?) were in for a shout of the championship this year, and it would appear so next year. One dominant driver, be he great or not, is not good for the sport.

  65. Nick says:

    As I see it, Schumacher probably isn’t coming back to prove anything – to have some fun more like, and perhaps as a favour to Ross Brawn.

    At the moment Mercedes are in a difficult position. They have just bought out the current World Championship team but don’t really have anyone to help them develop the car – Rosberg is OK, but not great and with the lack of in-season testing, Mercedes are at risk of looking very silly next to McLaren (with Jens and Hamilton) and Ferrari (with Alonso and Massa). Mercedes need someone driving in the second seat who can give them the input and feedback they need to develop the car and keep it competitive. I can’t think of anyone else available at the minute who is likely to be able to do that job – and certainly no one better than Michael.

  66. Kav says:

    I’m not a great fan of Schumacher, but if he comes back then he has serious balls. He must realise there is nothing further to prove, he may not even be anywhere near the championship next year and yet he still wants to risk his reputation just to go out and race the fastest cars in the world again. Can you imagine being a race driver, and getting to the point where you will never ever get to race these cars again? He just wants to have one last go before he can fully shut the door on F1.

    He’ll be a legend no matter what, but if he gets beaten by Hamilton and Vettel, 2 of the new forces in F1, than people may use that as a reason why Vettel or Hamilton are greater than him (When their careers are over of course).

    I’m sure he regretted retiring in 2006, when he knows he could have probably won the 07/08 titles aswell. I look forward to this, but it is a shame for Heidfeld if he loses out, but I’m sure he would understand.

  67. Ed says:

    Hi James,

    Do your sources lead you to believe this is now going to happen?

    What is your gut instinct?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, I’ve done a lot of digging in the last 24 hours and it looks like it is on.

  68. Rob H says:

    what a story!

  69. Paul Mc says:

    Great post!

  70. Robert says:

    At lot of … Rather.

  71. Tom Adams says:

    James do you see Grosjean being retained at Renault for the second seat?
    If not who do you think will get it?

  72. OFC says:

    When Kimi was coming to Ferrari, Michael suddenly retires. Now Kimi retires, and Michael is suddenly planning to come back. Does it say something to you ;).

    1. bwana says:

      that made me smile.
      I predict Alonso at Citroen with 2 years

  73. Baktru says:

    I sincerely hope we do not see Schum racing again.

    The only years I did not watch F1 at all was when Schum was winning everything anyway… The very name gives me that same bad taste in my mouth again, makes me think of those boring years when Ferrari won everything anyway…

    I’d rather see new drivers than another rehash of the Schum.

  74. Christopher Snowdon says:

    I love Shumi, but I think this Mercedes seat should have belonged to Kimi. I myself want Fernando in a red car, but Kimi should have been in the silver one. It would have been a mouth watering prospect. As for Schumi he should be the ambassador for the sport and continued his duties at Ferrari (his home from home). Having said that, Kimi has gone for now, and Schumi is not a bad replacement and will soften the blow of loosing the fastest driver in the world should he get the drive.
    James we can’t ignore that since Jean Todt took over F1’s reigns, we finally seen some sense and good swift decisions, do you think he may have had a part to play here? And if this does happen, how will it affect Ferrari not having him around the paddock and in particular Massa (who has a crucial season coming up). We can’t ignore the fact that it was Todt, Brawn, Stepney and Schumi who were the real cogs at Ferrari, neither of them are there anymore.

  75. Chris R says:

    Well, I can imagine with Alonso at Ferrari, it would be fitting for Schumacher to move on. As Alonso is seen as his replacement.

    I really dont see it happening though, Yes a 1 year deal would make sense while Mercedes go after Vettel. But really Schumacher is such a corporate entity now and with so many ties/sponsors to Ferrari, could such a move to Mercedes be feasible?

    It surprises me that Mercedes would perpetuate this rumour unless there was more behind it. If as expected Schumacher stays at Ferrari, Mercedes will be left announcing a driver who wont inspire such headlines.

    One can only assume that Mercedes are very up for it, but the ball is in Schumacher’s court. He did admit he wanted to drive last season, to refuse this now may negatively effect his image (certainly cannot see him driving for Ferrari again regardless).

    I imagine most people dont see this happening, but there’s obviously more to it.

  76. Nuno says:

    Michael still loves to compete. Racing is on is Dna.

    It seems he is quite fit. I (we) know him quite well, physicaly the man was a “beast” and it was easy to see that in the end of each race he never looked tired. Besides being very fast and reliable/consistent, he was mentally and physically very very strong. And I do believe he still keeps that huge strength.

    Technicaly he is superb. He drives beautifully, and he knows everything about those cars. If he works with Ross Brawn, it will be even easier because they understand each other exceptionally well.

    If you ask me wether I expect him to perform like in the old times, I couldn´t answer that one. I know that he still likes to take big risks, but sometimes in F1 big risks mean to be crazy. I have no doubts that Hamilton is a superb driver, and that sometimes he pushes the car much beyond the limits. Well, I will never forget Senna who was by far and large the only guy who, till today, could drive consistently beyond the limits. He had a kind of magic…

    Will Michael be able, or disposed, at his age, to make those crazy and well succeeded moves …that (sometimess) he was used to play in the past. I have some doubts.

    I wish him all the luck. For me the only big downside of his return to F1 is his exposure to an eventual big accident. I would be very sad…

    All the other possible things that could go wrong in this “encore” don´t matter. If he looses some shine, well…he is so rich that he can afford to loose something. With so many hundred millions in the bank he can afford to do whatever he wants.

  77. Ali says:

    If nothing else, I’m looking forward to Michael coming back to F1 so we (in the UK) can have more of those hysterically funny awkward interviews between Martin Brundle and Schumacher, where Michael would just smirk and refuse to answer any of Martin’s amusing questions.

  78. Pierre says:

    - Would Rosberg have a “no win” contract?
    - If this is true, then what a shock and a nightmare it must be for Ferrari… they’d have to fight Michael Schumacher for the first time since 1995! Would they try to retain him in the team, and would they be ready to offer him Massa’s seat?

  79. Paul Mc says:

    “At the start of the 1992 Formula One season the Sauber team, planning their Formula One debut with Mercedes backing for the following year, invoked a clause in Schumacher’s contract which stated that if Mercedes entered Formula One, Schumacher would drive for them”

    Interesting piece from Michaels wiki page. I wonder whether Michael wants to repay Mercedes for paying for his F1 debut and giving him his shot. Now that Mercedes have officially entered F1, Michael is there willing to drive. Starting and finishing his career with Mercedes.

    Another chapter for the book James? :)

  80. Pierre says:

    I’d also say it makes perfect sens since Kimi wanted McLaren or nothing (I’m sure they’ve talked to him). If Mercedes wants to fight Hamilton/Button, Massa/Alonso, Vettel/Webber, then Schumacher is the only real choice. As I wrote before, Heidfeld, Kubica or whoever you want in the second Brawn is the guarantee not to be able to fight for the championships, and this is not what Mercedes has planned in buying Brawn.

  81. Bruno says:

    I think the reason for Schumi and Mercedes (Brawn) is because it’s pay back time for Schumi. Mercedes gave him an f1 license and education. Ferrari accepts that. Ferrari is looking for another frontfigure after Schumi and found Alonso. Let’s not forget Massa. Both are talking at least three languages, important for FIAT and their market operandi. Of course this would never have happened with Mercedes and McLaren. But now together with Brawn Schumi will drive for them. Learning Rosberg how to become star driver and waiting for Vettel to come after 2011!!!
    Montezemolo will create a new staff of people around him. Including Alonso and Massa. After 2010, assuming Ferrari will be the worldchampions again, he will also step down. Leaving it all to the next generation of Ferrari leadership.

  82. Tarek says:

    By the way, James, did Eddie Jordan reveal that Mercedes were considering Schumacher before or after Jenson Button left for McLaren? I’m asking because it would give us an indication as to whether Michael was being considered as an option at an earlier period, and therefore, whether Button was pushed out.

  83. tarun says:

    it’s a strange thing to happen
    when a driver in prime like raikkonen has to go out of the sport unwillingly
    there we see an old horse coming back in the fold
    it will definitely be a hard job for shumi to beat his teammate this time round
    the sport is made for marketing and media men people
    what they say/want eventually happens.

  84. Stumo says:

    Everyone’s going on about sponsorship arrangements… do you think Schumacher is actually motivated by money at this point? He probably has enough that he doesn’t need any more whatsoever. But money can’t buy the thrill of driving and racing…

    I suspect that he will follow his heart and do what he wants, even if it means he loses out financially.

  85. Sebee says:

    All this chitter chatter – I feel the need to call James out to put in an early Schumi prediction on record.

    Will Schumi/Ross deliver a win and will they mount a championship run?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’d never predict like that until I’ve seen the cars testing. Ask me again mid February

  86. Alan Goodfellow says:

    James,

    If your sources are correct and Schumacher is going to Mercedes, would you rate Schumacher’s Merc move or Alonso’s Ferrari foray (apologies) as the worst kept secret? :-)

    1. James Allen says:

      Alonso, definitely. It went on for nine months…

  87. Paris says:

    The return of Schumi is awesome for those that did not get to see him race live I am sure the fans will be out for the upcoming year in the masses ..I am taking my girl to Montreal for witness the Greatest racer of all time.

    1. James Allen says:

      Good move. You should always take advantage of opportunities like that in life

  88. Frankie Allen says:

    The Ferrari angle was never a show stopper. At best it would mean having to pay up for a minor contract, nothing that would effect racing in F1. As was shown with Kimi, it may mean you have to financially honour the terms of the contract, but that’s about it.

    The question is now, will he, won’t he?

  89. Marc says:

    Surely it’s all but certain by now. Every man and his dog is reporting the come back is on and Ferrari will not stand in his way. Well done Eddie J for predicting this one, almost makes me wonder if Eddie’s prediction set the band wagon in motion to further convince Schu to go for it..Cause and Effect..

  90. MIKE LEA says:

    I was initially unsure about Schumacher’s comeback idea, but the more I think about it, the more I like the sound of it. He’s still in good shape and, from what I’ve read, his neck injury has healed. How cool for a 41 year old former champion to come back and test himself against a new generation. Vettel and Hamilton are two drivers he has never raced against, whilst he had only a few races against Kubica. If he does return, it will be fascinating to see how he does in any wheel-to-wheels with them. He is also the only top driver available to Mercedes and is perfect to lead the team until they can poach Vettel. One thought that came into my head…Rosberg didn’t want to fight Hamilton at McLaren, I wonder how he really feels about taking on Schumi in a team run by Ross Brawn…

  91. J.M. says:

    Very brave move by M.S. if he does it. Hats off.

    When was the last time he raced in Formula 1 without traction control? 16 years ago?

    1. Musampa says:

      2000 (+ first 4 races in 2001)

    2. Tim Horton says:

      Some say he’s never raced an F1 car without traction control :)

  92. Amritraj says:

    I think this spells out bad news for Massa. If the Merc is competitive and has Schumi behind the wheel, then Ferrari may sideline Massa to completely support Alonso to beat Schumacher. I don’t think they will count on Schumi’s “younger brother” to beat him in a fair and sqaure fight on-track. Besides, I think Massa doesn’t have the mental ability to take Schumacher head-on.

    This is my analysis on a very obscure angle but who knows maybe this is already worrying Massa.

  93. DaveCo says:

    James –
    How will Schumi like — and do you think his decision was affected by — the rules changes for ’10? (No refueling; new points system; etc.)

    I thought I was a Ferrari fan first and a Schumi fan second … but this possibility makes me think I had it backwards!

  94. Andy says:

    Not particularly kind on the tires. If only he had been he may have won the wdc title ;-)

    James, any plans on articles on virgin, usg1 and campos?

  95. Andy says:

    James
    are you sure merc are not signing ralf Schumacher ? ;-) now that would be funny.

    how many test days are there pre season and when do they start ? Is it mid feb?

  96. Sam says:

    I was very unconvinced to begin with about the Schumacher/Merc rumours when they first started appearing last month, but now, as one of the biggest Schumi fans, I am praying this is going to happen.

    James, do you have any idea when the deal (if, of course, it’s going ahead) is likely to be signed? I don’t want to have to wait to hear this news, this will make my year.

  97. Carl says:

    I would think MS is one of the few drivers on the grid who has had to start an F1 race with full tanks.

    Also I seem to remember all those years ago when he raced for Mercedes! in sportscars – driving fast, saving fuel and tyres was one of things Ross Brawn at Jaguar noted about MS.

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