It has inevitable written all over it and the Ferrari Formula One Team has confirmed that seven-times World Champion, Michael Schumacher, will return to the cockpit of a race car as a temporary replacement for injured driver Felipe Massa.
In an official announcement this morning Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro said it intends to put Schumacher, who retired from Grand Prix racing in 2006, in Massa’s car until the Brazilian driver is be able to race again.
“Michael Schumacher said he is ready and, over the next few days, will undertake a specific training programme at the end of which confirmation will be given of his participation in the Championship with effect from the European Grand Prix on the 23rd of August,” the official statement said
Schumacher, 40, will begin training immediately to make sure he is in shape for his comeback and that he is ready to go.
Schumacher suffered some injuries during the winter after crashing a racing motorcycle, and the team needs to be sure he is fit.
Schumacher’s return could prove to be a triumph of boredom over sensibility as while he has kept in touch with the latest race car, he’s driven it at the Fiorano test track, he will not have the level of race fitness that made him the most formidable F1 driver for more than a decade.
He has acted as a mentor to the team since retiring, and particularly to Massa, but will now have to accept a role as number two driver to Kimi Raïkkönen.
Meanwhile, Massa, injured in a freak accident during the Hungarian Grand Prix, has continued to make a recovery and is reported to have taken his first steps.
Doctors have also said they expect he will make a full recovery and return to F! racing.
The European Grand Prix on August 23 will mark the first time that Schumacher races alongside Ferrari’s Kimi Raïkkönen, and it will be the first time that he experiences F1’s new slick tires and kinetic-energy-recovery system on a race track.
In his favour, remaining races take place at tracks known to be among Schumacher’s favourites, including Spa-Francorchamps, Monza and Suzuka.
Schumacher has not raced at Valencia, Singapore or Abu Dhabi, which also are among the coming races.