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Reports suggest that Schumacher Mercedes deal is now signed
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Reports suggest that Schumacher Mercedes deal is now signed
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Dec 2009   |  12:54 am GMT  |  223 comments

Tonight Bild newspaper in Germany is reporting that Michael Schumacher has cleared the final hurdle in his quest to return to Formula 1 after three seasons of retirement and has signed a one year deal with Mercedes. Bild is a favourite place for both Schumacher’s manager Willi Weber and for Mercedes to leak stories.

Schumacher_Europe'09_023

Although the Mercedes GP team is run by Ross Brawn, the pairing of Schumacher and Nico Rosberg in their Silver Arrows will make it Team Deutschland, as Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche alluded to the other day.

Schumacher’s doctor gave the all clear for him to race after examining his neck, which he injured in a bike accident earlier this year. According to Bild he will be paid just £6 million next season, the kind of money he was on back in the mid 1990s at Benetton.

“As one door closes, another opens up” Ross Brawn said recently after Jenson Button’s move to the McLaren team. Brawn’s plan B, if it is officially confirmed, is a stunning move for the team and for Formula 1. Schumacher quit F1 at the very top in 2006, after winning seven world championships and 91 Grands Prix. He was tired, troubled with back pain which he kept quiet, and had been unable to give Ferrari management a commitment to race on, so they hired Kimi Raikkonen to replace him. To carry on would have put his friend and team mate Felipe Massa out of a job and so he gave that as one of the main reasons for stopping.

But in retirement he has seemed bored and listless; the thrill of a life lived on the edge could not be replaced with a few amateur motorbike races and despite the improbable odds of coming back at the age of 41 as he will be in January, he is taking a leaf out of Lance Armstrong’s book and coming back to take on the new generation.

The difference between his challenge and Armstrong’s is that the Tour de France is just as physically hard as ever, whereas F1 is easier on drivers than it used to be as there is no in season testing, so it’s three pre-season tests in Spain then 19 Grands Prix weekends and that’s it.

In the early 2000s, Ferrari had an annual testing budget, largely from Bridgestone, of $25 million and that meant Schumacher used to do a phenomenal testing mileage. He did less in the final years, but still was out regularly, which he will not have to do now.

He will have his greatest ally alongside him in Ross Brawn, the engineer who helped him to all of his world titles. But he faces stiffer opposition than he ever did in his first career; Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa are both known quantities to him and Alonso is now in his prime. But he has no experience of racing against Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel in F1 cars.

As one ex F1 driver put it to me last week, “I don’t care if he is Michael Schumacher, when he’s wheel to wheel against Hamilton into a corner his brain is going to say, ‘I’m 41, he’s 24, I’m going to be the one who lifts off here. ‘ It’s human nature and you cannot fight against it.”

Racers have fire in their belly and when that fire goes out they stop. Schumacher, like Nigel Mansell, did not stop because the fire had gone out, but because the circumstances said he should.

Schumacher’s motto was always that you get out of the sport what you put in and he put in everything. He also never gave anything away to the opposition, not even a sniff of a chance.

And that is the most interesting aspect for me of this extraordinary comeback. It’s not about whether he is still as fast as ever, he has always had pace to burn. It’s about whether that unquenchable thirst for competition, that ruthlessness, which saw him give no quarter against his own brother the day after their mother died, will still be there.

For Formula 1 this is another superb piece of news and it will make 2010 an absolute must-watch season.

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1

I do not like Michael Schumacher. But I am happy he is coming back. It means more fun for everyone I suppose. Looking forward to next year.

2

I dont want to write this but since the thought got into my head it will not go away.Hope it does soon.

Michael may be coming back to permanently end his days in F1 just like Michael Jackson come back.

What if he dies in early practice pre-season or in a race.

What happened to Massa just shows that F1 is still dangerous and the same could happen to any driver. An older driver is not usually able to recover as well as a younger one.

This is not something I wamted to post but the thought has struck me.

It does happen that way for legends and for greats, that is why there are so few living legends.

I think MS should stay away as should have Michael Jackson.

3

I’m in total agreement with M__E, I really can’t wait until the middle of March.

The excitement will get me before then.

Thankfully, I’ve secured my tkts for Montreal. Looking forward to seeing four (maybe five) World Champions’s on the grid … that’s a contrast to 2004, when there was only 1.

Wow, a 3yr deal. Does anyone else think he’s got his eyes focused on double digits?

It’s going to be a great season with more variables than I can ever remember

4

I’m so excited by this news.

2010 could be epic! He will be fast and will win races.

The stewards will have their work cut out….

5

As an old Schumi fan, I don’t know if I like it or not. I just hope that he’s still up for it… I hope I’m still a Schumi fan after the first couple of races!

6

To all who are doubting his decision to comeback at least be happy for the man himself, he wants to race again why should he listen to the doubters? Even if he doesn’t win again at least he will take immense pleasure in being involved again and who are we to tell him that is a mistake?

7

I’m with you Barry. I hope he has a ball next season. I know I will.

8

I would love to see Alonso hammer Schumacher on the race track, it would be fun to see him being beaten by the team that made him a bigger star to what he is today.

F1 is a multi national sport, Mercedes boss said this would be “Team Germany”, we may have a lot more German commands and direction and McLaren took most decisions and direction than Mercedes, Haug will be tested and i hope Ross delivers a lot as BMW and Toyota as Renault have had little patience when results were not delivered.

How long is Mercedes GP gets committed to F1, it will be interesting to watch.

9

lol, james you could write a whole new book on Schumi’s return.

‘back to the edge of greatness’; I’ll have 1% of royalties please 🙂

10

“To carry on would have put his friend and team mate Felipe Massa out of a job and so he gave that as one of the main reasons for stopping.”

What, M Schumacher ended his own career sooner so that Massa could continue with his?

11

No wonder Jean Todt is appointing someone to oversee F1 on his behalf he maybe slightly torn between maintaining the FIA’s “special privileges” for Ferrari or favouring his “prodigal son”

12

thank you so much (god of F1 where ever your throne resides!) – fan TASTIC!!! now all we need is the season to be put forward to 1st Feb and testing sesaon to open from New years day…march pfft…cant wait that long!!

13

The one thing that seems to grate me in all this I’d the fact that the current world champ seems to consistently be forgotten. All the talk is about schumi against Hamilton, or vettel. I know he’s not raced these guys before, but then he never raced button in a mclaren. Button is better than some of the comments suggest. Next year could well suit his style much better than lewis. We have a number of good drivers in a number of good cars. F1 is about drivers and cars racing against each other. Not just one merc against the world. Next year will be anyoned guess. We could well see record numbers of drivers winning a race. And button has a good a chance as any. We don’t all subscribe to the title race being between schumi, Hamilton and alonso. I find it very frustrating that Jense gets slated so much. Of all the good overtaking moves this year, jense was amongst them. So why are so many of you assuming he won’t be a match against lewis? Or any other driver? If I remember correctly, he pushed a Prost around a circuit at a time that was quicker than the driver of the time, one jean alesi. With very little experience of an f1 car.

14

I picked the following from from Andrew Benson’s blog:

“As he swept around the outside of the Ferrari, Alonso’s speed at the apex of the corner was 208mph. Knowing that any contact between the two cars would have resulted in an accident that at least one of them may well not have escaped unhurt, the bravery required to pull that off against a man who had built his reputation on bullying and intimidation was immense – the more so given that, two years before, Schumacher had edged Alonso on to the grass at Silverstone at more than 180mph.”

“Asked about it a few weeks later, Alonso told the veteran F1 journalist Nigel Roebuck: “At times like that, I always remember that Michael has two kids.”

This is telling and will be more true next year.

15

Even so, how many wheel-to-wheel situations arise at the front of the field in modern-day F1? Not many, I think.

16

Everyone who remembers knows MS was gently “nudged” from the driver’s seat at Ferrari because he was then unwilling to commit to a multi-year deal and Kimi was at the end of his Mac contract. Ferrari didn’t want Fernando either. My how times have changed. BTW, anyone remember all the pundits who said Kimi would blow Felipe away and Massa would only last one more year?

Too bad for Nick who still has never had a decent car. I think MS will have equal or less pace than Nico. I am 50 and know that determination cannot reverse the effects of age. On the other hand, both MS and Nico will be able to develop the car better than any other team so they should do better than most at the end of the season.

I expect the cars to rank in this order…

Red Bull

Mac

Brawn

Ferrari

[Stefan if they get they get a grid spot and Toyota’s plans]

Renault

Sauber Ferrari

Williams (could be higher is the Cosworth has the FIAdvantage)

STR

Then the new teams in this order unless Cosworth FIAdvantage moves them forward.

Lotus

Manor

Campos

USF1

17

I’d also say it’s a blow for Jenson: now looks like he was dropped to let the seat to a 7 times world champion… who retired three years ago. Does not put much credit to his abilities…

18

You just drew my attention to something. All Schumi fans should give a special thank you to Jenson at this point:). After all, he’s the one who made this Christmas miracle possible!

19

Don’t think he was dropped as such, but it shows that Ross knew he had a strong back up plan..

20

You’re absolutely right, not easy for the french that I am to use the correct english word to express a precise idea!

I still feel this was more than a strong back up plan, I should have said this was a stronger plan than keeping Button in… I bet, as a lot of people:

– Brawn will once again design a fast car next year: 1/ when is the last one which was not competitive? Even the 2005 car was very good but Michelin teams had a huge advantage. 2/ They knew very early in this season they had THE dominant car of the season so were able to concentrate on next year’s one very early with good new and “next step” ideas (when the others were concentrated on understanding then designing the double decker diffuser) 3/ Mercedes engine has proved to be reliable.

– Schumacher still has the ability and the fitness to win races and championships (3 years deal!), don’t understand how some may doubt about it. I’ve never liked him a lot for some reasons, but I’ve never seen a driver with such a conviction, such a “thirst” for fighting, winning and beeing the best at every moment.

So would Schumacher have accepted to drive a non winning car ? No.

Would be interesting to ask Raikkonen when he announced “I feel Mercedes will have two german drivers” if he knew or felt he would be Schumacher…

21

A three years deal..

Just what a blow this for:

– Ferrari: all marketing/image brand done untill now… vanished!

– BMW: they retire while their main competitor both on their domestic market and worldwide buys a new time for few, can win both championships next year…and gets Michael Schumacher and all the sponsorship/marketing that goes with it!

– McLaren: they tought they made a “coup” with Jenson, but this is nothing compared to this!

– Sauber… never been lucky with Mercedes from his debuts in F1.

– Heidfeld… bad luck once again. Hope he’ll get a seat and the best one possible. He deserves it, I personnaly rate him higher than he may look like.

– Rosberg: must be a bit nervous and anxious, this is not gonna be easy at all, and he really might damage his current reputation.

– Alonso, Massa and all the drivers that will compeat for next 3 (!) world championships and who already have fighted Schumacher on the track. Do not think Lewis and Vettel will feel the same “pressure”.

I’m pretty sure Schumi’s come back must have been talked with Ross much more earlyer than November, and perhaps Michael even started thinking it when Brawn won the Autralian GP. Wouldn’t be surprised of that.

It’ll be a very interesting 2010 season. Let’s hope Raikkonen to be back in 2011.

22

Let the frenzy begin.

23

Ross&Schumi, the most awesome Grand Prix duo ever, back in business. Absolutely superb. And congrats to Bertrand Gachot on his 47th birthday.

24

2010 is going to be fantastic. I echo the sentiments frequently expressed in the comments this year, your blog has been a must read. This time last year Jenson was having a tough time – but I guess it must have been a pretty grim end to 2009 for you James. We all applaud your achievement this year of producing the definitive F1 column. Thank you and have a great Christmas.

Now folks, how do we persuade the BBC to kick Ledgard off to cover football again and get JA back on the mic with MB? Who’s going to start a petition? (people power worked for Rage) – seems like we’ve got 70 odd days…

25

Now confirmed Schumachers return is good news for the sport and Mercedes in particular, but very bad news for Nico Rosberg. After managing to land a seat in a top team despite some pointers suggesting that he isn’t exactly top draw. e.g

– Pounded by Lewis when they were team mates in Karts

– Slower than Webber at Williams

– Numerous errors when in with shout of a good result (Monaco 2008, Singapore 2009 to name a few)

– Patrick Head’s comments about being inconsistent

Now he find himself with the impossible task of being Schumachers team mate. If he beats him its because Schumacher is past his best, if (and most likely) he looses, then this is the beginning of the end of his claim to be a top driver. Its ironic that Keke Rosberg steered him away from Mclaren knowing that he had no chance against Lewis…

However, having said all that, Barbie I wish you well

26

Incidentally, Keke Rosberg refused to comment on Michael being Nico’s teammate earlier today. Apparently he just said: “I’m not a driver anymore. Ask my son.” Someone’s definitely in a bad mood, aren’t they? 🙂 I wonder if Keke thinks it’s possible for his son to keep up with the great master. Probably not.. Well, at least it’s not exactly the Alonso-Piquet mismatch, so it should be interesting.

27
Paige Michael-Shetley

One more observation:

Another possibly strong motivation for Schumacher to come back, especially now with Mercedes, is the opportunity to win the world championship with another team. I’ve read in the past where he has spoken with reverence of the fact that Fangio won world championships with four teams. If Schumi does it with Merc, he’d be only the second driver to win world championships with three teams.

28

What a shame Kimi’s name is not on that list. I am not sure what he could have driven but I would love to see him mix it up with the rest.

I congratulate JB on his championship but you actually hit it on the head the other day,James, when you said “Jenson does not have the X factor”. Kimi at McLaren would have been more compelling, in my view.

Robert in San Diego

P.S. Speed TV are replaying all the GP’s. I am amazed at how much I forgot!

29

Come on James ! , not censorship ! , admit you got it wrong with you so called “insight” into F1………….

“Why Ferrari won’t let Schumacher go to Mercedes Benz” – your words posted 10/12.

John

30

Not wrong, just pointed out why Ferrari would have a problem with it, but it got sorted out. If you don’t like my insights, then may I suggest that you go and read other blogs and don’t bother coming here again

31
Cockney James Hunt

Seconded

32

I can say nothing more than this: Christmas has come early.

33
Paige Michael-Shetley

This is some of the best news F1 has had for a long time. There are too many instances of unparalleled brilliance you can point to in Schumacher’s career to say that he’s not the greatest of all time, IMO.

F1 is going to be very exciting next season with the top four drivers on the grid all being on the top four teams (no particular order): Schumacher at Mercedes, Alonso at Ferrari, Hamilton at McLaren, and Vettel at Red Bull. Adding to the mix is the fact there are three other very strong drivers in those teams in Massa at Ferrari, Button at McLaren, and Webber at Red Bull. (If only Kimi were around next year; that would have added yet another bit of excitement!)

It will be interesting to see how Rosberg approaches the year. He’s been given an amazing opportunity to drive for a top team that most drivers never get, and one can argue there are drivers more deserving of such an opportunity. He must produce top results now. At the same time, there can be no doubting that Schumacher comes into the team as the number one driver, given his record and his past working relationship with Ross Brawn under the same circumstances. If he’s asked to support Schumacher, he must. Plus, he can use the opportunity to learn a lot from a 7-time world champion.

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