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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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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…


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.



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.



Role in Ferrari I meant not role in Mercedes


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


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


Super timing James, just read your blog and read Andrew Bensons Blog at BBC and he says just the opposite of what you were. Interesting points of view both 🙂


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!


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.


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!)


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.


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?


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.


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.


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


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.


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…


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..

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 🙂


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


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?


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!


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!


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”


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!


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?


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.


Bring back the Swerve. Irvine has been missed.


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.


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?


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).


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.




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?


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.


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


Thanks for all the reminders. 🙂


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.


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.

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