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Step by step towards a Schumacher deal with Mercedes
Step by step towards a Schumacher deal with Mercedes
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Dec 2009   |  10:59 pm GMT  |  113 comments

The latest twist in the story of Michael Schumacher’s move towards a comeback is Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo saying that Ferrari’s consultancy agreement with Schumacher is not binding and they cannot hold him if he wants to race for “a competitor”.

Montezemolo: "....with regret...."
Sources in Germany suggest that Schumacher was not prepared to move forward with the comeback unless Montezemolo gave it his blessing and perhaps this was the purpose of today’s interview with Reuters. Schumacher is due to meet the Ferrari president later this week, apparently. My sources in Italy and Germany are now adamant that this deal is going to happen.

There will be more from Montezemolo on this as he is hosting a lunch for media representatives from around Europe on Thursday. Although he has expressed reservations privately about Schumacher moving to a rival company, which has launched a supercar into the same sector as Ferrari, Montezemolo said that their agreement is “not binding”.

“You can’t work with a competitor and with us at the same time,” he added.

For all the momentum that this comeback story has gained, fueled by the German media primarily, there still seem to have been some important things which have not yet taken place. Schumacher has yet to clear his medical checks, has yet to approach Montezemolo about moving on, and sponsors with whom Schumacher has commitments in 2010 have not been approached about his release.

“I still haven’t spoken to him about it,” the Ferrari president said. “He is only a dear friend, not a team member. He is a consultant for our road cars.”

Bild newspaper in Germany says that Schumacher is yet to undergo his neck scan at the Bad Nauheim clinic he uses for all his medical activities and claims that Mercedes wants him to test a 2007 car, as he did with Ferrari, to check on the status of his neck. This could still be a stumbling block and Schumacher does not want a repeat of the summer where he announced the comeback then found he could not deliver. Bernie Ecclestone is quoted as saying, “Let’s hope it happens this time,” having been left disappointed by Schumacher’s no show in August.

Intriguingly, Schumacher did not attend Ferrari’s Christmas party at the weekend and according to Gazzetta dello Sport, Montezemolo spoke about Raikkonen, Massa and Alonso but did not mention Schumacher.

Meanwhile Mercedes has suffered a blow today with a sponsor it thought it had landed, Henkel, revealing that the team has been scammed by a rogue employee who was not empowered to strike a deal which would have been worth many millions to the team. Henkel is a German conglomerate, operating in a wide range of sectors from adhesives to hair care and laundry products.

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The thing that will upset Luca and Ferrai most, is not the whole Family image or his loyalty etc.. But the Last 3 years he has tetsted and developed their road cars… think how much insider knowledge he has… every nuance of those cars he carry whithin him.

Now he can go to Merecedes and truly guide them with their road car program to produce a better car than Ferrari…

Now that has to really hurt Ferrari and Luca


how much info will schumacher have about the 09 ferrari – was he involved at all in its development? if so, i can’t see why ferrari would let him go and take all that knowledge to a competitor.

as far as comebacks go, he has nothing to lose. do people think any less of people like muhammed ali or michael jordan, or do they just rememeber the good times?


Knowledge on 09 car!!! – LdM will be happy to part with that and getting it implemented at Mercedes. The Ferrari 09 was a dud!


So, the general concensus I have read is that MS is “bored” and needs more action.. I reckon the only action he is going to see is all the young guns racing past him. Hamilton and Vettel will be all over him, and it will be interesting to see how Massa and Alonso size up to him. I am not convinced its a good move in a sportsman sense, but as always in F1 cash is king……


I personally dont believe Schumacher will come back for just 1 year , but 2 seasons or even 3 seasons sounds more realistic.

Imagine if Schumacher won the drivers title in 2010 , and then retired … that would be the second time that the no 1 wont be on Brawns car, since button will be bringing his no1 sticker to mclaren next year …

(ps Hello James , I am a die-hard MS fan from montreal CAN, as u can see and I have read your book “Michael Schumacher the edge of greatness” … however I was very ticked off when you wrote that Schumacher realized that Alonso was actually better than him …i dont buy that for a second. For FA to be better than MS he would have to be better than Hamilton too , which proved not to be the case in 2007 . How was FA better than Schumacher, besides being younger ….


In terms of driving consistently over the course of the 2005-2006 seasons, Fernando was actually better than Michael. But some of Michael’s drives during 2006 (China for example) were still quite brilliant, and Schumi’s greatest drives are beyond anything that Alonso can produce. And in terms of raw speed and racecraft, I don’t think Alonso would have ever been a match for Schumacher at his peak (in equal cars, that is).


I wish Michael would not come back. With rare exceptions, comebacks are a disaster, leaving the ex-champion looking diminished.


Good article James, it’s a fascinating story that at first i didn’t believe due to the fact that i thought Schumacher was 100% loyal to Ferrari and wouldn’t feel the need to possibly race again after his back problems ruled him out of replacing Felipe this year.

If he does get the drive, it’d be intresting to see what his testing times are in the tests in the new year and how he handles the pressure as most people will think he can win the championship next year.

Also did an article on this last night, obviously not as trustworthy as yours with your links in the sport, but it conveys the same message.


I’m a huge FERRARI fan, the prospect of Schumacher joining Ferrai in the summer was brilliant. Got to be honest would love to see him racing again even if it is in a Merc. Would be great for F1 – plain and simple. It may also force me to pay to stupid amoound of money Silverstone are insisting on! ha


Me too!


Rosberg must have expected to move to Brawn/Merc to pair up with a world champion Jenson Button, since we all knew this was going to happen aeons before it was announced.

Reasonably then he never expected to be de facto number 1, and more likely expected that he would have to prove himself as better than Button over a period of time to become the effective team leader.

Schumacher coming in might actually be a bonus for him. It removes some of the pressure on Rosberg – does he really want to be seen as team leader in the current world champion car, right from the off in 2010? Perhaps if it’s clearly dominant, but not if it’s struggling to live with Mclarens/Red Bulls/Ferraris.

But a Schumacher there will hide Rosberg from that a bit. Even if he does come back it’s not going to be forever. Gives Nico time to establish himself in the team, potentially pick up a win or two in a good car, and then be the incumbent if/when Vettel comes across.

I think Nico’s good and deserves a Merc drive (though not necessarily the lead seat), but clearly Nakajima is not a yardstick. Nico’s career so far has had the stage-managed feel of a boxer’s career, where they carefully choose each fight and the big guns try to avoid each other until unavoidable so as to all maintain strong records.

It’s worked so far but at some point he’s going to have to come up against a big name in the same team. There are too many big names in F1 with too few strong drives to make it unavoidable.


Well, if it happens, then maybe he’ll learn something from the Great Man just by following him around.


Yeah, we’ll see what Rosberg is made and surely Michael coming back can’t hurt Nico’s chances of improving further and blossoming into a truly first-rate driver, because he probably has the pace for it.


Phone rings:
RB. hey michael, ross here.
MS. hey ross. How’s things?
RB. Not good. We lost jenson to mclaren.
MS. Bugger.
RB. Got any plans for next year?
MS. Well not really. Why’s that?
RB. Seems I’m in need of a driver. Moneys not great though.
MS. Ross, I’m insulted. I don’t need money. Tell ya what. You let me in on how you got your roses to thrive while you were on “gardening leave” and we have a deal.
RB. sounds good. We just won’t announce it yet. Build up some hype. I’ve got a feeling Nick just made a bad business deal so we should wait and use this to take the heat off the team if it goes bad.
MS. Ok. I better ask the misses if I’m allowed.
RB. Good luck with that. Talk later. Bye
MS. Bye
Perhaps it was that easy!!!


I wonder if Nico realised he would be signing up to play second fiddle to Schumacher [if he signs up] instead of measuring himself against Jenson [who he thought would be his team mate] and being allowed to race for wins, looks like his F1 career is about to stall, as none of Schumachers previous ‘running mates’ have managed to go on as a team leader / world champion.


Fascinating stuff if it does happen for a number of reasons:

1) Ferrari will lose one of their biggest marketing tools.

2) Nico Rosberg will be effectively stunted when this happens. He moved out of Williams in what was a great career move to Brawn. That is now dead in the water, he won’t be able to progress or win races as Schuey’s #2.

3) Ross Brawn was very vocal all year that Brawn is a different team, it is run to *his* philosophy, there would be no return to the shady practices of the Ferrari days etc – where does this put him now? Does anyone really believe Schumacher will allow equal status, or share setups, or behave in any way that isn’t… “Schumacheresque” for euphemism’s sake.

4) What on EARTH is going to happen to Nick Fry now? Signing a 3 year sponsorship deal with a convicted fraudster without doing due diligence or verifying contracts? He gets a lot of heat from fans who assume he’s not up to the job, whether they have facts to back it up or not. This, if true, is incredible. Would like to hear your thoughts on the subject James.


I have never been a Schumacher fan, but I am very excited about the possibility of his return to F1. What surprises me when I have been reading the comments on this and previous blog’s relating to Michael’s come back, is the amount of people not understanding his return? I think I have got it, are they disgruntled Ferrari fans? Something happened this summer when Massa was injured and Schumacher held his hand up to drive again for Ferrari. I think Michael was probably the most disappointment of all parities concerned (team, fans, etc). Since then the driver contacts have affectively been put on hold (until very recently) with only Alonso having been signed just before Massa’s crash. There was the call from Ferrari, for teams to be allowed to run three cars and also Jenson’s Buttons move to McLaren. Did Jenson’s learn who his team mate might be at Brawn/Mercedes and choose the lesser of two evils, the lesser being Lewis H. as team mate?

Schumacher, coming back to F1 has got to be a good thing. He is the man to beat and so much has been said of Hamilton and Vettel, if he returns it will be a great bench mark for everyone. As for why he wants to return, I would love to drive a F1 car as would many others, so why not, just drive and have fun. Let hope it’s a good one and here’s to 2010.


Re: Button choosing the lesser of two evils… I don’t think this was the case, as Mercedes had Rosberg signed up a long time before that…


Agree about Button not wanting to team with Michael. If you are on a team with Michael and Ross, you know you are the second driver.

Michael is great. A return may be great for the fans. However, I don’t think enough credit is given to the existing drivers, some who have improved quite a bit since Michael left. Perhaps his comeback is better left to the imagination. I think the Shuey fans will be disappointed mid-season if Brawn doesn’t have another killer car.


Mercedes needs to avoid a repeat of the debacle they had with Henkel, and stop any negotiations that a junior employee has had with Willi Webber and contact Chip Ganassi immediately, even offering to pay for his First Class air ticket to Germany for contract talks to gain the services of Juan Pablo Montoya.

At 41, Schumacher is too old to be leading the Silver Arrows team in their inaugural year in F1 and with the strongest driver in F1 and best qualifier since Senna, Juan Pablo Montoya has youth and an excess of rugged manliness necessary to lead the Silver Arrows to the WDC and WCC in 2010.


Montoya had his chance in 2003 and blew it by making several misjudgements during the course of the season, despite having probably the fastest car on most circuits. He’s very fast but he’s reckless and doesn’t possess the qualities that made Schumi great. Even in terms of pace, Kimi showed him the way when they were together at McLaren. Besides, I think he’s happy in NASCAR right now and wouldn’t fancy an F1 return.


JPM will likely not be able to fit in an F1 car and he always seemed happier in the US than in F1. And also, I bet that 41-years old MS is fitter than NASCAR-bound JPM.


Didn’t McLaren build a “supersize” car for our Nige a few years back? I think they should offer it to Mercedes in case JPM arrives with his helmet.


As much as I love JPM (and I watch NASCAR pretty much because of his participation in that championship) I fear his rugged manliness has been blunted a little by good American cooking and sponsors free coke/pepsi!

A great talent lost from F1 and one that is now getting used to the unique demands of NASCAR. The chase this year, maybe next regular winner and the chase and 2011 the title?


Montoya likes NASCAR because the cars are big enough inside to accomodate him… He won’t come back to F1, he likes burgers and America too much…


Hi James,

What do you think, will Rosberg have chance to beat Schumacher?

And are there any other sponsor deals on the board of Mercedes? 🙂



Schumacher should not come back because he has already proved he is the greatest F1 driver ever. One question, what your predictions for the 2010 F1 line-up?


Anyone think Jean Todt has been involved in this somehow?

A Schumacher comeback would certainly get his new F1 reign off to a flying start. I get the sense there may be strings being pulled, influence exerted. Brawn and Todt went from Ferrari to greater challenges, now Schumacher, it seems, may follow.


Jean Todt maybe. Bernie Ecclestone definitely.


Since he was not at the Ferrari Christmas do, it means that he did not want to spend the entire evening being asked if it were true. If it were definite that he were staying, then he would have gone to the party.

So now he cannot stay, if he wanted to, his loyalty to the family is broken. So I guess he has to go now, if not to Brawn Mercedes than to another team but for pocket money only. The loss of a Brawn sponsor will be a significant blow since it would have paid for Schumi and left change.

I still think that this is one of Schumi’s worst decisions, he will be slow at the start of the season, the time when opinions are being formed as to if he is past it or not.

His reactions are still lightening fast but a few hundredths slower than before, a bit more brain will need to be used that was previously in reserve, he may only be as good as the rest now.


I’d say the silence on the comeback from the Schumacher camp says it all! After all when he announced the comeback (which failed in the summer) it made him look silly when his neck was still dodgy. At least if he doesnt pass a medical this time, the Schumacher camp can turn round and say we never said Michael was coming back it was the media – where as if he passes the test it can be anounced. Once bitten twice shy as they say??


now may b i get it as to y Ferrari had been calling for a 3rd car.. may b Schumi expressed his desire for racing again and that was Ferrari’s attempt to give him a race…


Apparently, the announced changes in the points’ system for 2010 have annoyed some stats’ gatherers – past changes have already made their life difficult when comparing drivers of different eras, but as changes in these things go, the latest one is a biggy.

As far as I’m concerned, it is a good thing. I hate discussions about who was the greatest, Clark or Senna, Gilles Villeneuve or Ascari, etc – etc. These discussions lead nowhere, except maybe the issues of chivalry and safety (or the lack thereof).

This is why I am so dissappointed with these news. I was a Schumacher fan. I really liked the man, partly because I felt the media was usually harsh with him, but mainly because compared to other sportsmen and women earning similar amounts of money, he seemed to have his feet on the ground. Sure, he made the odd ‘unsportsmanlike’ maneuvre, but what would F1 be like if everyone in it was polite?

I wrote that “I was” a Schumacher fan, as opposed to “I am”, because since his retirement my focus is elsewhere. I believe the current crop of Formula 1 drivers has a lot of talent in it. I am looking forward to see who will emerge on top in 2010, between the newer guys like Rosberg and Vettel, or the slightly older ones, like Alonso and Hamilton (is it OK to call Hamilton a ‘seasoned driver’ in 2010?).

I hope ‘Schu’ stays retired. If he absolutely needs to race, maybe he can invite some old friends/enemies, like Hakkinnen, Coulthard, Irvine, Hill and Villeneuve and make an “Old Boys’ Championship”, as a Friday fixture before every GP: they could race last year’s cars in a ‘sprint’ race (10-15 laps). I’m sure Bernie would love to promote the event, and the new FIA president wouldn’t object!

OK I admit I’m day-dreaming.

Maybe the return, if it happens, is nothing more than an excuse for Michael to promote Merc road cars, instead of Ferraris, but I still hate it. It is just like remakes of old films: the new kids watching them may think they’re OK, but they just ruin our memories of the originals.


its a new day, a schumacher return would be quite different to a bad rehash like the italian job.


If this happens (as I believe it will) I think many on here should be apologising to a certain Eddie Jordan. His views were totally dismissed by many people both on here and in the motoring press. Whilst I’m not a great fan of Eddie he does appear to have someone on the inside of every team up and down the paddock to base his judgement upon rather than solely relying on PR people.


“James Allen on F1

2009: a revolutionary year”

Oh yes!!!


It may be 2010 before we know the end of this 😉


So it seems his health alone can stop this. I assume that the Henkel money will be quickly replaced by another sponsor, if they don’t reverse themselves and put up the cash anyway, rogue employee or not, knowing that Schumacher (medical checks permitting) is in the team.

Indulge me in a conspiracy theory here James. Assume Michael gets the medical all-clear and comes back. Given that Keke Rosberg seems to despise MS, what’s your take on him geting Nico away from the Silver Arrows and into a seat with whoever buys out Renault? Are there any get-out clauses in his contract that have been making the rumor mill?

The Rosbergs are tough hombres, and Keke hasn’t (from what I’ve heard to date anyway) been a stage parent for him the way the Piquets have done it. But I just can’t see Ross and company allowing any possibility of Keke’s venom to infect the team through his son; it just creates too many opportunities for tension and distraction. Mercedes has been dealing with Anthony Hamilton’s presence and influence at McLaren as it is, so I seriously doubt that Norbert Haug relishes the prospect of another dose of that from Keke.

The consensus seems to be that Merc’s ultimate target is Vettel anyway, so I’ll go out on a limb and connect the dots thus:

Merc pays Nico to go to Renault (Toleman?) for the 2010 season, partnering Kubica. Renault engines being in the Red Bull, Nico maintains that connection by going to Red Bull, replacing Vettel there, when Seb moves to Merc in 2012. Until Vettel arrives, Heidfeld goes to Mercedes to partner Schumacher, a sound move as it gets another excellent development driver into the team who will reliably score points, and maybe more, given the likely strength of the car- in essence, a rerun of the Schumacher/Brawn/Barichello lineup. And it would be doubly appropriate, given that Heidfeld (correct me if I’m wrong on this), like MS, was groomed in the Mercedes junior team.

Mind you, Kobyashi is still out there. If Nico and Keke have any ideas about a (whatever it morphs into) Renault seat, they should hop it quickly. A Kubica/Kobyashi lineup would be a formidable combination. And so would Vettel/Kobyashi down the line…


looks like kobayashi is going to sauber…


It will be interesting. Rosberg is there on merit, selected by Mercedes and Ross.


I don’t rate him, good but not the best or in the top draw and maybe not even as fast as Webber 8)


I can’t agree on this one. His nationality more than his results, gave him the seat at mercedes. He was helped a lot to get where he is now. He has done some things on the track, but he is still chasing his first win. He won championships on his way to f1, but so did piquet, with the best equipment money can buy. But when they get to f1, they have to deliver, and he is having problems to do so. Even with all his father expertise, you can’t buy talent.

I remember his father sayng a few years back, during a kart race, that only hamilton and nico will get too f1, because of dennis and himself. He did his job, now is nico’s turn.

Now everything is in place. He has to beat Michael schumacher. He has to finish him, and send him back to corina.

And now keke can’t help anymore.


I don’t think Nico necessarily has to beat Michael Schumacher. If he manages to keep Schumi honest, that will be just fine, and it will no doubt enhance his reputation and probably ensure that he remains at Mercedes in the long-term. Michael also doesn’t need to beat Rosberg, because if he doesn’t we will all understand that it has to do with age. So in a sense it’s a perfect scenario for both. Neither should feel the enormous pressure of having to beat the other, though Schumacher, admittedly, will be under slightly more pressure to deliver, given his status as the most successful driver of all-time.

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