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Why Ferrari won’t let Schumacher go to Mercedes
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Why Ferrari won’t let Schumacher go to Mercedes
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Dec 2009   |  4:55 pm GMT  |  145 comments

Nick Fry perpetuated the rumours about Michael Schumacher making a comeback with his team as he spoke to the press today after his appearance at the Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco.

He declined to comment on whether the team was talking to the 41 year old and said that they had a shortlist of “3 or 4 drivers”. He said that nationality wasn’t important because Mercedes already has a German driver but he said that experience was vitally important. They may announce the identity of Nico Rosberg’s team mate this year but it would more likely be next year.

“I think whether it be Michael or having another prior world champion, it just adds another very interesting element,” said Fry.

“Can someone who’s 40 or 41 years old compete against someone who is 24 years old? In other sports people have proven that they’re very capable even at that age, and I think that would add another fascinating aspect.”

It seems that Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo is not so keen. He has been saying privately that Schumacher, who has a three year contract with the Scuderia, is going nowhere and part of the reason for that is the competition Ferrari is set to face from Mercedes in the supercar market with Mercedes launching the SLS Gullwing in direct competition. The last thing Ferrari needs is to lose all the invaluable brand association they have built up over 15 years with Schumacher to Mercedes and to have him promote a rival car against them.
Picture 46

This car sector has been responsible for quite a lot of action in F1 lately, McLaren’s strategy of launching a car into this sector against the SLS was given by Mercedes as a key reason for them to split.

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145 Comments
  1. ian says:

    well, as great as Schuey was/is – i would like him to stay retired and give the younger drivers a chance, whichever team is touting Schuey as their next driver. He had a fantastic career in F1, and in all honesty, what can he possibly have left to achieve, other than preventing other drivers from achieving anything?

    1. lip_iceman says:

      Generic comment.

      If you did a survey asking the kids in F1 if they wanted to race in the same field as a 7x WDC, they would probably jump at the opportunity.

      Preventing others from achieving anything? Like possibly winning against Schumacher? F1 is about challenge and being the best…

      Another thing… The sport has become diluted to the point that a new “champion” is being churned out every year. The true champion will win more than once, against rival drivers of class.

  2. How would Ferrari actually stop him though?

    1. Alex 3 says:

      He has a contract and they can enforce it in the courts in any manner of ways including an injunction which would put him in contempt and presumably subject to arrest on a court order.

      1. Suzy says:

        Didn’t Luca Colajani say the contract is not yet signed…?

      2. lip_iceman says:

        It’s unclear whether that contract has been signed, or if it’s a gentlemen’s agreement at this stage.

        Did LDM not say that he would “not stand in his way” if Schumacher wanted to race for another team?

      3. Eric says:

        That would produce interesting publicity, Ferrari sues Shumacher in court. Would the journalists cover that story? Kind of counter-productive, no?

  3. Aaron James says:

    James, is Nick Fry as big a tool, as he comes across in the media?

    He really does talk too much.

    1. Finn de Finn says:

      Nick Fry had the sense and the guts to get Ross Brawn in. Think the guy is due some credit.

    2. SteveEarle says:

      Lol so it’s not just me who thinks that!! Probably the truest thing I’ve ever read on the internet!

    3. declan says:

      i quite like him actually. i think he’s communicates very clearly and his sound bites are very well thought out. let’s not forget that he’s had to motivate a workforce when it was still unclear whether they would be racing the following year and secondly he’s had to be involved with two big negotiations – Honda and Mercedes.

      I think we’re also hearing a lot more of him since Brawn was at the front.

    4. Drezman says:

      Perfect description of the guy. It’s been great this year as he virtually said nothing. He must feel his job is secure as he’s suddenly popped up in public again.

      Honda had no sponsors and went with ‘EarthDreams’ due to this guy and some reckon he saved the company, LOL.

      I think you’ll find that Ross Brawn was/is the steadying hand.

      Comeon Norbert, you need to need to get the positive press rolling, do the decent thing ;)

  4. Chris says:

    Seems to me that all Fry is doing is trying to destabilise Ferrari as much as he can prior to next year’s season. He’s very good at destabilising after all he managed to it very well with his drivers with both of them leaving for pastures new. His best solution to Jensen leaving was to slag him off in the press. Would you want to work with a man like that? I certainly wouldn’t and I suspect that both Jensen and Rubens had had enough of him.
    Also I predict that the combination of corporate Fry and Haug will see the going of Ross Brawn within a couple of years, if not sooner. I can see Martin Whitmarsh readying Ross’ office as I type.

    1. Lee says:

      Don’t forget it could be all cleared up very quickly if Schumacher just came out and said he wasn’t interested. So as far as blaming it all on Mercedes, there is some blame at Schumachers door too.

    2. Dale says:

      What’s with all the anti Fry comments :?:

    3. declan says:

      i doubt it – brawn is a part owner of the team; and on a fundamental level; he is possibly the main reason why they bought the team in the first place. so they’ll make sure that he’s happy.

      1. Chris says:

        Nothing to stop him selling his share though is there.

      2. declan says:

        you’re right. but why would he want to? you pretty much need millions to buy an F1 team now; and Ross Brawn has the enviable position of being part-owner and technical director with one of the most prominent brands in the world. Why would he want to go back to being just an employee?

        Also, McLaren is one of the most corporate, image conscious teams of the lot! So it wouldn’t make any sense (financially, level of authority or design interest) for him to move there.

    4. Simon says:

      Whit-less and Brawn, think not that would be like the borg and the Doc Brown getting together. Fry is just hyping up the media, and good luck to the man.

    5. Maria Felix says:

      Are you trying to be funny or something?

      Ross heading over to corporate robots at Mclaren? Please, if He cant stand Nick Fry, then its hell at Mclaren.

  5. Tarek says:

    I hope you’re wrong, James. Call me naive, but Michael has given Ferrari so much he deserves to do whatever he likes, whenever he likes, regardless of contractual obligations. Anyway, didn’t someone at Ferrari earlier say that the team won’t stop Schumacher if he wanted to race again?

    1. Dale says:

      Contracts do actually mean something :!:

      1. Tarek says:

        They do. But Ferrari broke Kimi’s contract, so why not Schumacher breaking Ferrari’s? :)

      2. James Allen says:

        Fair point. He hasn’t signed it yet either..

      3. Dale says:

        Fair point :)

  6. Yeti says:

    Apparently Schumacher never signed the new contract with Ferrari, so he has no obligations to them.

    And Fangio became world champion when he was 46 years of age.

    Rumours say the deal is done for 1 year and optionally another year.

    1. Werewolf says:

      Hi Yeti, as one rarely seen beast to another, I feel compelled to point out that, as big a Fangio fan as I am, many of us have driven road cars more powerful than the Mercedes W196 or Maserati 250F! The rigours of modern F1, on track and off, are so much greater that I think very early 40s, and then very exceptionally, is the absolute limit today.

    2. Dale says:

      A contract does NOT have to be signed to be legally binding, any competent legal advisor knows this ;)

      1. wendy says:

        It does have to be signed unless there has been part performance of teither of the parties as evidence of agreement.

      2. Pete says:

        I’m sorry, but I get tired of people commenting as though they know what they are talking about when they don’t.

        A contract does not (in English law; German/Italian/whatever these guys use may be different..) have to be signed, OR part-performed to be a valid legally binding contract. However it amongst other things does have to be clear, and the problem with an unwritten contract is the courts may deem it too vague to be a valid contract. There is also the little matter of proving, not just that there was some agreement, but EXACTLY what that agreement was. Without clarity and proof, it isn’t legally enforcable. If MS hasn’t signed it, he could legitimately argue that’s because the written document doesn’t match his understanding of any verbal agreement.

    3. Dermot Keelan says:

      I don’t the fact that Fangio was 46 when he won the title is really all that relevant given that drivers back then were essentially gifted amateurs, rather than dedicated full time professionals.
      And the physical demands of driving a modern F1 car are incomparable on many levels.

    4. Alberto Dietz says:

      … and Fangio is one of the 100 listed at statsf1.com as oldest (aged between 41 and 55) F1 drivers. In addition, MS could now reach 3,000 points while picking up the odd WDC here and there.

  7. Paul says:

    Can someone who is 40yrs old compete against a 24yr old?! If the man is Schuey….erm YES!! Is the 24yr old Nico and not Lewis…YES. Although I do like Nico as a driver he really hasn’t shown me an absolutely blinding performance as of yet. Do I believe he has it in him, simple answer is yes but if his teammate becomes the great master or even Kubica then I can’t see him developing his undoubted potential.

    Would love to see Schuey back against Alonso but also Lewis, however I fear his (Misguided/Excessive) loyalty to Ferrari will be too strong for him to jeopardise considering the inevitable clashes he will face against one Mr Fernando Alonso.

    On a personal note…to Kimi; Please use the undoubted get-out clause in your Citroen/Red Bull contract and join Mercedes! As much as I am interested to see you in the WRC, seeing you in next years F1 WC would make an almost perfect scenario, perfect.

    1. Dale says:

      In F1 one can never say never and it would not surprise me if Kimi appeared in F1 in 2010, not very likely though as he wants too much.

      1. David Emlyn says:

        Interesting comments guys, Fry does mention ‘whether it be Michael or having another prior world champion’ – maybe Kimi is still in the frame? If the rallies he’s signed up for don’t clash date wise he may be free to race – or maybe released.

        It’d be great to see him back in F1.

      2. James Allen says:

        He was on the spot and wouldn’t be drawn into addressing the Schumacher thing directly. He was deflecting. He did a pretty good job, actually

      3. Amritraj says:

        Wage issues weren’t the problem for Raikkonen. His heart was set at McLaren and that deal didn’t mature because of sponsorship work McLaren demanded of him. To top it all, they weren’t too keen that he went rallying either.

        Nick Fry very clearly said that Kimi was a target for the seat.

        So its actually Raikkonen who walked away from the sport, and he didn’t do that because of monetary issues.

      4. James Allen says:

        I think you are right – he had a generous offer

  8. Lee says:

    James, I don’t see Ferrari have a choice. It sounds like there is no signed agreement to continue (but verbal may have been good enough).
    Even so, the damage Ferrari would get by restricting Schumacher would be worse than letting him go.
    If it were me, I know that I could stand up in court and argue that there is a “restriction of trade” by Ferrari stopping me from doing the one thing I’m good at, at another company.
    Every contract has a get out clause and I’m convinced that Schumacher will have such a thing in his… his team of advisors are far too wise to miss that one.

  9. Finn de Finn says:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “I think whether it be Michael or having another prior world champion, it just adds another very interesting element,” said Fry.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Another WDC? Is he saying they are targeting another former WDC?

    1. Jeremy says:

      could it be Villeneuve?

      1. Josh says:

        Villeneuve doesn’t fit the brand image unfortunately…

      2. Stephen Kellett says:

        fortunate surely?

      3. ade says:

        Jacques going back to the team that once was “his “?

      4. James Allen says:

        I really don’t see that happening

    2. Dermot Keelan says:

      Would be interesting to see if they go after Hakkinen. That would definitely fuel Schumacher’s desire to get back on the F1 grid.

      1. Josh says:

        What became of Mansell’s age old pensioners grand prix championship? Give the management and marketing to someone who knows better and run it at major grand prix venues like, Monaco, Silverstone, Spa and Suzuka run a special guest grand prix for some of the oldies. You could even make it “grand prix winners and champions only”

        **********

        Can you imagine the likes of Prost, Piquet, Mansell, Schumacher, Hakkinen and Villeneuve racing once again? Each race could showcase an older era of F1.

      2. Josh says:

        In Monaco you could race the cream of 1983
        In Silverstone, the cars of 1987
        In Spa, the cars of 1992
        At Suzuka, the cars of 1995

        ;)

    3. Tengil says:

      Even if James makes it look like those quotes refer to the second Mercedes seat, I think Nick Fry was talking about whether F1 in general needs old champions.
      The Q&A is available on Autosport.

      1. James Allen says:

        The point is that he was talking about Michael. Where else do you think he’s in contention for a seat?

      2. Simon says:

        James, you miss the point.
        He was talking F1 in general and using a bankable name so the media would bite. It is all about profile raising.

      3. James Allen says:

        With respect, I was standing next to him as he spoke….

    4. ade says:

      Like a father and son Rosberg line-up? ;-)

      1. Finn de Finn says:

        Brilliant – that made me grin big time :)

        THANKS

  10. Dale says:

    All this talk is just that talk, keeping F1 in the newspapers and internet media, it just won’t happen :!:
    As you say not least for the Ferrari investment over many years though I think it far more likely that he knows to put himself up against today’s young guns would just be silly. I’d love to see Lewis going into th same corner as Schumi with Alonso snapping at their heels but it’s nothing more than daydreaming as it aint’t going to happen :-D

  11. Tom says:

    James, you quoted Nick Fry as saying “whether it be Michael or having another prior world champion…”. Dare I add Jacques Villeneuve’s name into the mix?

    1. Lee says:

      He was talking about Jacques, check Autosport for the full Q&A with Nick Fry.
      He’s talking about Jacques at Lotus though I suspect… (quite why anyone would want Jacques though is beyond me…)

    2. Dale says:

      Now now don’t be silly :!:

    3. Dan says:

      Dear God let it be Mika :P

      1. Josh says:

        Bring BACK MIKA!!! James is it possible??

      2. James Allen says:

        No. He has said definitely not.

    4. Martin says:

      Jacques’ endurance racing experience might be attractive from a tyre management point of view, but would he bring enough cash to Lotus to get a seat?
      Although, Jarno Trulli is a karting world champion, and he has been linked to Lotus.

      1. James Allen says:

        I don’t think Villeneuve is on the Lotus shortlist

      2. declan says:

        That’s a shame! I thought Lotus would benefit from the name and experience.

        Incidentally, if you were one of the new team owners coming into F1; would you go for 2 experienced drivers, 2 novices, or one of each?

  12. john g says:

    it’s clearly all spin and fairy dust designed to make the F1 websites carry stories about schumacher and mercedes – both are enjoying the limelight (as is fry i’d imagine) after mclaren nicked button, to much media attention. but nothing will happen.

  13. Werewolf says:

    ‘ ‘I think whether it be Michael or having another prior world champion, it just adds another very interesting element,’ said Fry.’

    Now there’s a teasing statement! Could Mercedes be looking to lure Hamilton and get even with McLaren?

    Mrs Werewolf has just said ‘what about Hakkinen’ but despite being a Mercedes favourite he is surely too old and, in any case, his last F1 test showed he had lost the speed. Yes, dear, I know he’s younger than me!

  14. adrian says:

    Two more interesting points from that interview: one was the rapprochement that Fry seems to have reached with Button, saying polite things about his raw pace etc. Very different to the prams out of basket first announcement. The second was his dropping of Villeneuve’s name, pretty much out of the blue. So maybe Villeneuve is the best they’ve got, and in fact it makes a bit of sense to have an old, if not wise, head next to Rosberg, although from what I understand Villeneuve’s set-up style is quite idiosyncratic. Remember too that Jock Clear and Villeneuve go way back. But also remember that Button showed Villeneuve a clean pair of heels when they were together at BAR.

    1. Tarek says:

      As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t make sense for anybody to even consider Villeneuve.

  15. John F says:

    James, small correction. Schumacher is still 40. He would be 41 by the time the 2010 season starts though …

  16. Segedunum says:

    Of course Ferrari, and particularly Fiat aren’t going to let him go. The Eddie Jordan thing of letting him go ‘in the interests of Formula 1′ is utter nonsense.

    There’s too much water under the bridge between Schumacher, Fiat and Ferrari that extends beyond mere contracts. Fiat and Ferrari aren’t going to have their star ambassador wandering off willy-nilly to not only a rival team but a rival car company, especially after Michael expressing his undying love and commitment to Ferrari. It’s just not going to happen. It would be very embarrassing for Ferrari and Fiat in the car market.

    Signing a deal for one year is ridiculous. Why bother? He’ll have to face retirement all over again for very, very little gain while he watches Vettel and Webber’s gearboxes disappear into the distance. I don’t think Raikkonen was terribly keen on that.

    While I’m not sure that Button handled his move to McLaren as best he could, I can see why he did it. This constant dithering and faffing by Mercedes where they’ve already missed out on two World Champions who are currently racing is just looking ridiculous now, as is Nick Fry.

    1. Josh says:

      Lots of dithering :)

  17. Michael Brown says:

    As others have already said above, if Schumacher wants to go to Mercedes (and it would appear that he’s giving it serious thought) then there’s not a lot that Ferrari can do about it, regardless of whether he has contract with them or not.

    If Ferrari were to get into an ugly contract wrangle with MSC it would be a PR disaster. They’d be much better off just letting him do what he wants.

    1. Tarek says:

      Yes, particularly after all he’s given to the team. Without Michael, Ferrari would be NOWHERE.

  18. Jeremy says:

    Why hasn’t Davidson been signed yet? Isn’t he still in the reserve role? He has the skills, experience and knows the team/car quite well.

    1. Josh says:

      Preach it! :D

  19. Rich C says:

    This must be their “surprise” – the fact that they don’t bloody know *who it’ll be! Its all smoke and mirrors.

  20. Flintelli says:

    James, can you tell me if this, running a thrid Ferrari with Schey at the helm has died a death! How were Ferrari going to make it work anyway? Trust its all PR. Cheers…

  21. F1ART says:

    There can be no doubt that a driver in his early 40′s can still win, look at Mansell’s return for Williams. He was a tad over weight too!

  22. JEEEPp says:

    The new Ferrari 458 road car will walk all over the SLS. Merc make good cars, family cars, runarounds, luxury ones, diesel vans and trucks.
    This is their first independent proper supercar.

    Every Ferrari however, is a legend. Just a few from this decade;

    355, 360 Challenge Stradale, F430, the ENZO, 550 Maranello, and now the 458.

    And thats about half the cars they have made, let alone their F1 racers…

    No competition in terms of brand, even if Schumi goes.

    1. Robert says:

      This is the motorsports industry all it takes is one engineer or a group of engineers at any factory to come up with a revolutionary design.

      Look at the Mclaren F1, when it first raced competitively it won, and its a legend by itself. There is nothing so overtly great about Ferrari. Its Ferrari fans blowing hot air when they see rivals upstaging them.

      Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Jaguar have all have their own legendary tales to tell. So just what makes Ferrari so special? Nothing, its just what their fans say nothing more. All this ‘legend’ talk its just bloated fan hype.

      There are other super-cars out in the market that even rival many of Ferrari’s creations technically, so this claim of superiority through ‘legend’ is hogwash.

  23. russ parkin says:

    james, can you buy me one of those gull wings? i need one in my life!

  24. Darren says:

    Ferrari said they would not stop him. Contracts mean nothing and we are not even sure anything had been signed. It would be bad for Ferrari’s image if it came to light that it was down to them that Schumacher could not return. Surely even ferrari fans would like to see him return. There must be truth in this otherwise Mercedes new driver will be a total anti climax. They or schumacher would have ruled it out by now. Now renault are staying all be it under new ownership Kubica is less likely to switch. I really dont see who they have as a decent choice now they have been hyping up schumacher.

    James what do you make of the new proposed points system for 2010, I quite like it.

  25. Tim Sculthorpe says:

    @ 12. John G – all very good points except Button to McLaren was all spin and fairy dust until it happened! For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s going to happen and I don’t think it should happen. But I said both about Button and I’m very excited about it now!

  26. Matt W says:

    I suppose before Luca questions Schumacher’s loyalty he needs to look at the way he hastily pushed Schumacher into retirement in 2006, even releasing a press release confirming he was retiring whilst the guy was on the podium in Monza.

    I think everyone would like to see the guy come back to see how he shapes up. Just a shame Ferrari can only field two cars so will never let it happen with a Merc move.

    1. Robert says:

      Indeed Ferrari are headed by complete clowns, they have a completely useless team principal in Stefano Domenicali and they have allowed old wackos like Montezemolo to gain back power. Monezemolo’s Italianizing of Ferrari is working extremely well into the hands of the main rivals, while they fade away through their own actions.

      What I am interested in is how long before they sack Alonso maybe even Massa when the next money laden star comes along. Vettel has been a Ferrari target but now it may not happen as its obvious that the people who lead the new Ferrari have long failed sanity checks.

  27. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    There must be quite a lot of substance to the MS to Mercedes rumour by now:

    1) Luca de Montezemolo lobbying for a third car during and at the end of 2009
    2) Michael Schumacher not signing his Ferrari contract and putting an end to all of these rumours
    3) Mercedes would not run the risk of the wrath of the media or F1 fans by playing this will-he-wont-he game for so long
    4) MS’s fitness preparations stepping up

    Ferrari have said that they would not stand in his way if he wanted to make a comeback with another team. I wonder whether LDM would stick to his word?

    Strange all this, given that there were rumours earlier this year that Ferrari were not going to renew MS’s consultant contract.

    All I can say is that Mercedes would have to make him one hell of an offer to pull him away from Ferrari. They would have to account for his lost potential earning stream over the next 10+ years or so plus his fee as a driver for one/two years…which could run into hundreds of EUR millions.

    1. AK says:

      Michael does not need the money. Mercedes is offering him a decent seat with win possibilities. Michael will just be happy to get a few more wins to his name in the next couple of years and make up for being forced out of F1 early by Di Montezemolo who did not want to miss on Raikkonen. Mercedes will be very happy to get the publicity, especially in Germany, and this would make up for not winning any titles.

    2. Robert says:

      The word is that Mercedes will give Schumacher long term ambassadorial role for the Mercedes brand, that is worth more than just having him as their driver.

      This is why Ferrari will do everything to stop this from happening. All this talk of his undying love for Ferrari is just wishful thinking by terrified Ferrari fans.

  28. Andrew says:

    Well i cant see it happening.

    Wonder why Ferrari are keeping so quiet on the subject of Schumacher and Mercedes? i think the answer is Ferrari know Micheal aint going anywhere and are fully aware a game is being played!

    If anything Ferrari leaked the story Micheal hasnt actually signed a contract to the press just to add another spice to it and to keep the rumour going even further.

  29. tito says:

    Hi guys, first time on this site. been italian and supporting ferrari for many years
    I think that It must be some true behind all this? Why neither mercedes
    Or schumi are not commenting on the matter? If it was me
    And I had loyalty to ferrari I would quicly clarify the rumers.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for your visit.

  30. Sebee says:

    I said it before and I’ll say it again. If Michael is coming back, it’s going to take a lot of deals and money. This will make history on value as much as the comeback itself. Weber has his work cut out putting this together, but he knows much much more about that than us speculators chatting here.

    Michael doesn’t need the championships, money or wins. Therefore, he’s coming back for one reason only – a proper shot at the championship. It must be nearly guaranteed. Ross’s guarantee is as good as it gets.

    He’s not coming back for the money, but he won’t be in for 10 million either. It will take record retainer for him to be in for the season. He’s not coming back without a guarantee the car/team will be top two in contstructors either with monetary panalty if they give him a dog and option to walk with full season pay. And he’s not coming back without a deal with Bernie or % of team FOM money for easily increasing ratings in 2010 by 20% with his return. And he will one up Kimi on least number of press/marketing days ever if he does come back.

    If I was Schumacher, even in this economy, those conditions must be met. Honestly, the man is a living F1 legend, if he can’t write his own ticket, who can?

    1. Robert says:

      Your assumption has one flaw, that all this is about just the race drive. It most certainly will not be the case.

      He wont need to extort Mercedes for this race drive. He will his steady incomes by just being Mercedes brand promoter and a direct rival against Ferrari. Its about competition and money is not going to be a factor. You don’t need to be an insider to realize this.

  31. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    James,

    Isn’t it true, though, that Schumacher actually hasn’t signed the new contract?

  32. Ste says:

    Wouldn’t all employment contracts have a termination clause, whether it’s a notice period or in this case a buyout.

    If (and this is a big if) Michael really did want to come back, I really don’t think it would be possible for Ferrari to stop him – I doubt he’d have much trouble between himself and Mercedes coming up with whatever the penalty fee is for getting out of his contract legally, or alternatively I think Ferrari would take an amicable settlement over the publicity that could come with leaked stories of them stopping him doing what he loves – they’ve already had a lot of bad publicity from their handling of Kimi recently.

    And maybe I’m naive but I can’t see money being any kind of factor whatsoever, Michael’s earned more than he could spend or his children could spend – if he wants to race he’ll race, but if he doesn’t he won’t, I think it’s just a question of whether he’s still motivated or not.

  33. salty popcorn says:

    I thought Ferrari had said that if Michael wanted to make a driving comeback, they wouldn’t stand in his way?

    The biggest reason why I think this might happen is Michael himself – it feels pretty clear that he is itching to get back in an F1 car, and if he really wants to do it, and they will be a way to make it happen.

  34. Michael Nichol says:

    Do F-1 fans REALLY want Schumi back? Do you think F-1 needs more controversy again, such as running into competitor’s cars, or stopping in qualifying? And is young Nico Rosberg to play the role of Barrichello, or Irvine for the next year, moving over for you know who?

    1. Tarek says:

      Well, the on-track controversy created by ruthless, determined racers like Schumacher is much better and more interesting than the off-track controversy in the post-Schumi era (spy-gate, lie-gate, and crash-gate).

      1. CptZorg says:

        You forgot the current -gate, by which I’m referring to Button’s switch to McLaren and MGP’s protracted driver negotiations.

        If you sort of lump it up and take the view that Button put the ball rolling, I think Jensongate would be a good alternative.

        Also we were promised an extra one on the engine specs was it which didn’t materialize, so that could be fizzlegate.

        To complete the list we have to remember MM’s unfortunate business with the courtesans, which certainly registered as -gate on my scale. Does anyone have a clear reference source as to how a particular scandal registers as a -gate?

      2. Tarek says:

        Thanks for all the reminders. :)

      3. Frankie Allen says:

        This is one that James has got totally wrong. Mercedes really want Vettel but that is a no go, so what’s the next best, Schumacher. Jordan was pretty adamant this was serious at Abu Dhabi and from everything that is coming out now, Schumacher is seriously considering it. Mercedes have made him an offer, it’s just down to whether he will accept it. From a PR point of view it has to be a no brainer for Mercedes, even if things don’t go so well on the track.

        Button’s new challenge now looks certain to have been having a decent seat for 2011.

      4. James Allen says:

        We’ll see. My I ask why you call yourself Frankie Allen? Is that a reference to anything in particular?

      5. Alberto Dietz says:

        Absolutely.

      6. Sebee says:

        Amen brother! You said it.

        It’s like they were trying to make us forget that the most successful driver of all time left the sport.

    2. John F says:

      Do you think you can speak for all F-1 fans. There seem to be a lot who would like him back, yes.

      A little bitter today, aren’t you?

    3. AK says:

      Yes, I want him back to have a go at Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel. He’s a living legend and this would excite everyone in the paddock to have him back. He does not have the pressure to win titles, just a few wins over the next 2 years would do.

    4. Josh says:

      Bring back the Swerve. Irvine has been missed.

    5. Robert says:

      No different to liars like Hamilton (Ozz 2009) and ramming other cars (into kimi in canada 2008)

      The only difference here Schumacher’s skill sets would crush 2nd rates like Hamilton.

  35. adam hipkins says:

    My view is that why cant schumacher deny he is leaving ferrari if he loves them so much.Plus would he allow such publicity after the massa accident return let down, just for the same hope and dream to be gone again.Maybe ferrari are not too bothered because paying him 5million for consultancy is not worth it? i dunno i wish they would hurry up and let us know a clear update.

    I’m hoping the reason they wont open up about it is maybe because there in negociations and dont want it so public he turned them down

    webber needs to let us know!

  36. Jomy John says:

    I’ve been most saddened by Michael’s comment when asked if he was gonna drive for Mercedes. “Who know?” I mean, doesn’t he care for the billion + fans out there who are eagerly waiting to know whether he is gonna drive or not? That is some telling as to how much his fans mean to him.

    I just hope the “Who knows” answer meant that he is considering a return. Fingers crossed Schumi fans ;)

    Also, thank you to James Allen for keeping me busy with Schumacher news these past few months. No other site has been as informative as yours.

    “Schumi Forever”

  37. Olivier says:

    What about Lance Armstrong? He is 38 and just started up his new team. He will continue cycling for at least another two years! He will be 40 by then. He is also being modest about winning the tour de France. With nothing to prove he is just enjoying the autumn of his career.

    I think Michael has taken notice of this and feels really enticed. Especially with Ross Brawn at the helmet. Let the young drivers stay in the Kindergarten. It is time for the king to return!

    1. declan says:

      I think that’s a really good example – but Lance had to play the support role in his team. Would Schuey be open to that?

      Let the king of bad dress sense return!

  38. Michael Brown says:

    Ok. First of all, yeah, I really would like to see Schumacher come back. Firstly because he is the best driver I think I’ve had the fortune of seeing (I started watching in ’98, Schumacher v Hakkinen for the title, but was hooked!).

    I can’t recall waching since then a drive of the calibour he was capable of. The immediate three that spring to mind are I think Suzuka in 98 where he started from the back (or went to the back for some reason), got up to third before the engine blew. Monaco in 2006, again starting from the back to get to 5th, and Brazil in the same year, last again to finish 4th.

    The list could go on but I’ll save it. Basically, Schumacher is the best i’ve certainly seen, no question. In my opinion the brilliant drives, passes, wins records etc far exceed two (Sorry, going to have to pass on the Hill incident, not as convinced as others that was intentional) errors in judgement in an F1 career lasting 15 years is anywhere near enough to over shadow his achievements. As for team orders, lets not forget they were rife at the time, McLaren were guilty as well with DC moving over for Mika, so to say the only guilty parties were Schumacher and Ferrari is delusional really. And as a side note, if Irvine, Rubens et al had shown pace to rival Schumacher, he wouldn’t have been number one driver, would he?

  39. Paul Mc says:

    Regarding the Mercedes link heres a video of Ron Dennis trying to get Schumi to sign for McLaren or at last drunkenly attempting to :) Brilliant stuff it is.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYI6PFNDFrg

    Ferrari will want Schumi at the 458s launch and they will want his name attached to the development of the car. For the F430 Michael drove prospective clients around a track in the car to show off its capabilities. He has done a lot of PR for the GT side of things.

    To have him move to Mercedes now would be quite a blow. He would no doubt have to drive their GT cars and be in advertisements for Mercedes. He would have to cut from Ferrari completely to do this as its a conflict of interest. Somehow i cant see him doing that..

    Having said that i really hope he does it :)

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks, great spot! I remember that so well from the time. You couldn’t make a film like that in F1 any more.

  40. garyp says:

    Bit of a coincidence Brawn/Merc saying they will announce driver in the new year, and shumi has said he will know by the end of 2009 if his injury is all healed and he could then be fit enough to race…

  41. Finn de Finn says:

    BBC think Schumi is sugesting a deal has been done but for a medical check up:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2009/12/schumacher_returning_looking_i.html

    1. Simon says:

      It’s looking very likely that a deal has been done. The question is why James posted this article when everything else is suggesting the move to Mercedes is going to happen.

      Normally this blog is spot on, but I think you have got it wrong this time I’m afraid. Ferrari obviously wouldn’t be keen on the move, but to claim Ferrari ‘won’t let Schumacher go to Mercedes’ would seem to be jumping to the wrong conclusion.

  42. Jim Tendy says:

    Schumacher has intent to race F1 again. No one spends the amount he has done testing karts, racing karts at the highest level, and getting in good fitness for no reason other than fun.

  43. Tarek says:

    Incidentally, James, I know we shouldn’t really be thinjing about it at this stage, and also that you’re not convinced that Schumacher is returning to F1- but who do you think would come out on top if Rosberg and Schumi went head to head in next year’s Mercedes? (keeping in mind that Michael will be 41!)

    1. James Allen says:

      Rosberg improved a lot last season. The thing about Michael is that he has only ever had one way of working which is maximum commitment, attention to every last detail, get the team on his side, get out what you put in. I can’t see him having that desire any more to operate at that level, nor can I see him changing his way of working. It would be a huge boost to Ross and his team and move them forwards a lot in one year. There are all sorts of stories about him training and getting a neck strengthening machine and so on. I know he was very keen to do the stand in for Massa, but a whole season?
      He would be doing this for pleasure – He got on well with Massa and wanted to help him. Would he feel the same about Rosberg? Keke has been his harshest critic and Nico had a few things to say in Monaco 2006…I’m sorry I still don’t see it.

      1. Jim Tendy says:

        James, no one does 100s of laps around Lonato in a KZ2 with bubblegum tyres with a ‘bad neck’ for fun. His level of commitment at the moment to stay ‘race sharp’ is higher than anyone else on the grid. There isn’t a driver in the world doing what he’s doing.

        I don’t think he pitted himself against the best karters/drivers in the world in Las Vegas for fun. He never really stood a chance of winning, so why would he travel all that way to attend a 4 day event to get embarressed? Where’s the ‘fun’ in getting beat for him? There HAS to be a greater motive to attend that event.

        Anthony Davidson sais himself that ‘Karting made F1 feel like a walk in the park’. The level is there in karting to push Schumacher, but why would he do it??

        Also, the way certain people behaved when the Mercedes deal was mention suggested words were spoken about that deal within the tent. Whether they humoured the rumour, or seriously spoke about it I do not know.

        It’s his general behavour that doesn’t fit in with the ‘retired F1 driver’ mentality.

        Admittadly it’s a long shot, but do not be surprised if he does go Mercedes. It would certainly fit his behavoural patterns.

      2. Paul says:

        Very true. I completely forgot about Keke’s and Nico’s over-reactionary (and disrespectful) comments. If he joined Mercedes GP that would definitely add a hugely interesting element into the mix, and as I previously stated above I believe it would be massively detrimental to Nico’s progression and development.

        On another note one just has to read your book on Michael Schumacher, THE EDGE OF GREATNESS, to see just how dedicated and ‘full-on’ he would have to be if he decided to come back. I fear in his mind process it would be a longer term project if he decided to come out of retirement, and that it wouldn’t be the full year of formula one people are talking about but rather a good 2 year project??

        What do you think James?

  44. Matt says:

    My guess is that Schumacher is holding out on declaring on the situation with Mercedes for two, largely commercial, reasons:

    1. If there is interest from across the paddock in his signature on a contract, and there is still a contract on the table from Ferrari, then he’ll obviously be able to bargain a higher price/higher position in the hierarchy of the team.

    2. He’s probably holding out to see the performance of the car. At the moment, nothing is really certain about the performance of the cars for next season, so if Schumacher comes out and signs for Mercedes now, and is in a rubbish car, he’s blown his chances with Ferrari. Whereas, if he waits and has a chance to see what the stats from the car are like, then he’ll be in a better position to make a decision.

    If he signs for Mercedes then I’ll be so torn between the UK McLaren team, and my hero, in the old Brawn!! Decisions decisions!

    1. Robert says:

      Don’t know what you are on about. Whats there to blowing a chance with Ferrari? He isn’t going to drive a Ferrari. He can only drive the competitive Mercedes. Its Mercedes or nothing. He hasn’t got any comparisons to make as far as the car is considered.

      And to wait till February when the first tests start is not going to happen, they would have signed their two drivers by then. Either way he wont be able to know for sure if the car is good enough.

      This risk is part of F1, always has been. Its the calculated risk based on available pre-season factory data and prior year a driver has to take into account before taking the plunge.

  45. Kedar says:

    Super timing James, just read your blog and read Andrew Bensons Blog at BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2009/12/schumacher_returning_looking_i.html and he says just the opposite of what you were. Interesting points of view both :)

  46. Suzy says:

    I think he will come back. I really think for a long time he didn’t want to come back and he really meant it when he said he closed the F1 chapter once and for all. But what I think happened is that that test back in August awakened the sleeping lion in him. He licked blood and the fire is burning again.

  47. Tim Sculthorpe says:

    I’m increasingly thinking this is a no smoke without fire circumstance – these rumours just won’t go away. Andrew Benson at the BBC seems to have good sources it’s happening as well.

    Far from convinced it would be a good thing though.

  48. Gautam says:

    If Schuey joins Mercedes GP for 2010 season,I am sure that the current F1 drivers like Vettel and Hamilton will beat 41 year old man Schumi on the track quite comprehensively.

    1. Robert says:

      Vettel yes courtesy of his talent and excellent redbull car. The other need a very good car as they are not on Vettel’s level.

  49. ElyasP says:

    Why doesn’t Ferrari replace Massa for a year with Schumi? No offense to Massa who is probably my favorite driver right now, but it could give him a driver back up roll and a chance to completely heal and get back up to speed for 2011.

    1. Robert says:

      His recent karting outings proves otherwise, he will make Alonso sweat and possibly even beat him enough to frustrate Alonso.

  50. Alan Goodfellow says:

    Ed Gorman’s article in The Times today makes an issue of Nick Fry’s comment: “Can someone who’s 40 or 41 years old compete against someone who is 24 years old?”

    He seems to read into the fact that 24 is Rosberg’s age and it seems to be an interesting and valid point.

    Could this be a subtle hint from Fry?

    It would be good to see Schumacher and Villeneuve back in the sport to see how they fair against the current crop of drivers.

    It would be a shame for it not to happen. The rumours seem to be gathering pace quite quickly now and, apparently, Sabine Kehm hasn’t been as quick to answer direct questions about the issue as she usually is.

    It’s also quite difficult to forget that Schumacher himself has had various opportunities to rule out a comeback after Massa’s accident in Hungary – including at the press conference where he announced his comeback last season was off – and has refused to do so

  51. Sebee says:

    People, let’s place our bets and wait for the day they draw the numbers.

    I put 10 £ on a Schumi come back. There James I’m first one to commit on the record.

  52. Sebee says:

    Speed TV says 7m€ is what’s being offed – same as Jenson!?

    Schumi don’t do it. You deserve 40m minimum – seriously. For 7 tell them to talk to Ralf.

  53. Suzy says:

    German press (Focus, Bild) now reports: deal done.

  54. Suzy says:

    James, do you still think it’s not gonna happen? ;)

    1. James Allen says:

      I never said it won’t happen, only that I couldn’t see it. I still feel that way – if he does the deal I’m not sure it will be for the right reasons.

      1. Attila Takos says:

        Hi James! If Schumacher returns he won’t get the no:1 status, won’t he? :)

  55. Chris says:

    There is one aspect of this that is probably very interesting for Michael. It is the long term view. He started in Mercedes so some of his affiliation must remain, but more importantly he can be a spokesperson for many years in a company like Mercedes because of his nationality. He always seemed like the guy that was looking for the long term gain rather than the short term. So if he joins Mercedes perhaps he will not do it for the racing as such but rather for the aftermath.

    Another point is that his role in Mercedes is difficult to understand. Perhaps James can enlighten us on this. Personally I never understood what he is doing there. Consult on what? Driving? And other than Massa can we expect a guy like Alonso willing to consult Michael?

    Also, Michael is important to Ferrari now because people still remember him. But 5 years down the road, if Alonso can have a successful career in Ferrari, Ferrari would rather associate with a current driver than a past one. Where would that leave Michael?

    Finally, Michael has invested heavily in Dubai in terms of real estate. Perhaps he was heavily hit by the recent crisis in Dubai and his finances are not as good as they were. Linking with Mercedes would make some sense as that would help his finances but also get him in connection with the arabs controlling part of the Daimler Group

    Although all the above suggest that Michael probably would take the right decision to join Mercedes, my gut feeling is in agreement with James. Somehow I can not imagine him wanting to go again through an F1 season. He is getting older but more importantly he had the time to spend time with his family and he would not want to jeopardize his safety.

    1. Chris says:

      erratum:

      Role in Ferrari I meant not role in Mercedes

    2. Suzy says:

      Chris,

      I think with the first part of your post you hit the nail on the head. I too think Michael can see already that at Ferrari with Alonso and Santander on board his days are numbered as an ambassador. With Kimi Ferrari needed him to be the face of the company, because Kimi wanted to do as little PR as he could. But I think Alonso would do the PR job too. In fact, I think he would feel it disturbing to be the driver in the F1 team, but not to be the leading PR face of the brand. And especially Santander wouldn’t find that right. They want to build a new image with Alonso being strongly associated with Ferrari and Santander and vica versa. Not with Schumacher, not with anybody else, but with Alonso (that’s why I think Massa’s days too are numbered and he won’t get a fair chance in the team from now on, but that’s another subject.)

      So Michael gets an offer from Mercedes, not just to drive but to be a long time ambassador. It’s only logical from him to take it IMO. But I disagree that he is kind of being forced to drive this one season to get to the ambassador role then. I think he is poised to drive again. Did you see how disappointed he looked when he couldn’t replace Felipe in the summer? So I do think it’s mainly about the driving for him and the ambassador role then is a nice bonus.

      And I don’t think he does it because he is in a crisis financially. He has always been a very cautious guy, I don’t think it’s any different in his finances. And he has been paid well by Ferrari and his sponsors so far too.

  56. Una says:

    Well Luca Di Montezemelo has already announced that Michael is free to go to another team today and all signs are now pointing to him signing a one year deal with Mercedes with the announcement to be made some time this week. So I’m curious now whether James thinks he’s going to leave ferrari or not???

    Personally I’m torn about him returning to the sport. On the one hand he’s the reason I started watching F1 in the first place and I don’t think there is anyone currently on the grid that will come within a whisker of changing his records. Schumi is a very proud German and I’d imagine the thought of him driving for Mercedes with his right hand man in F1 in Ross Brawn at his side, well he must be chomping at the bit. I’ve never seen him race and if he signs I’m at Spa next year come hail, rain or shine…
    On the other hand, he is a little older and he has been out of the cockpit for 3 years and I genuinely worry that this could all end in disaster and thats the last thing anyone wants to see happen. Plus the man has spent so much of his time being apart of Ferrari not just as a winning driver but you can tell how much he loved driving for them and how much the support of the tifosi meant so much to him, the fact that he was a German driving for an Italian car company. I always imagined him finishing his F1 career with Ferrari and all the history that entails. I worry about this move but at the end of the day he is the 7 time world champion so he knows best whether he’s up to the challenge or not…Can’t wait to hear what happens next…

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