Michael Schumacher has today confirmed his return to F1 and explained that the motivation was a human one; his old friend and colleague Ross Brawn needed him and he wanted to drive again after three years out of Formula 1.
His motivation in the summer was that Felipe Massa had been injured and Ferrari needed him. He said that it was hard to split with Ferrari after a relationship lasting since 1996, but Ross Brawn’s call was a powerful one. Getting close to that comeback made him realise how much he wanted to race in F1 again,
“The motivation I think is pretty straightforward – the call I got from Ross [Brawn] at the end of November concerning the chance in my hand to go racing,” he said. “Having this phone call from him, and the circumstances of Mercedes-Benz being involved as the owner, I felt great.”
Brawn approached Schumacher at the Abu Dhabi GP at the start of November but got in touch again when it became clear that Jenson Button might well defect to McLaren,
“In Abu Dhabi, when Ross asked me if I could imagine returning to F1, ” said Schumacher, “I felt that I wasn’t ready for it. But only two weeks later, when he called me once again, I realised that my old passion was returning. Suddenly I was on fire again. For me, the imagination to be back in a F1 car and to compete for the world championships is exciting and extremely inspiring.”
Schumacher said that he felt tired at the end of 2006, but has recharched his energy levels and believes he can go for the title next year. He has no doubts about his ability or motivation to take on the likes of Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel,
“I am absolutely confident on this one…when I got into a kart for the first time after my [motorcycle] crash I was straight away on the pace. I have to prove it in real terms, but going wheel-to-wheel with these guys will be thrilling and exciting. It is something I look for – and the great thing is to get support from the outside. They have no doubt about my ability, ” he said ominously.
As for the doubts many old hands in F1 have about his decision to put his hard earned reputation at risk with a comeback he said,
“I hope they will judge me on what we have done before – and I am going into this exercise with the same opinion. [Mercedes GP} is a team that has won both championships this year – and we have Mercedes as a strong partner. Our aim can only be to fight for the championship. There will be strong competition, as we have seen, but I am thrilled to be back into this one.”
Schumacher’s new Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg said that he was delighted to have the seven times champion alongside him, despite some harsh words from his father Keke about Schumacher in the past,
“It is fantastic that Michael is returning to Formula 1 and will be my team-mate at Mercedes GP,” said Rosberg. “It’s a great challenge for me to be up against one of the best drivers of all time.
“I’m sure that we will form a very strong partnership as he will have lost none of his speed. It is also great news for our sport and the fans.”