Michael Schumacher is facing a busy new year, as the seven-time world champion has confirmed he is making a Formula One return with Mercedes.
It was no secret that the former Ferrari ace was itching to come out of retirement to race in motorsport’s premier league again, and now he has agreed a three-year deal with the German squad. At 41, Schu will be the oldest driver on the grid, but he’s certainly not planning to make up the numbers.
“Our aim can only be to fight for the championship,” he said. “I was tired of F1 by the end of 2006, but after three years away I am getting back all the energy and I feel strong right now.”
His contract with Mercedes is a dream ticket. Firstly, there’s the chance to be a part of the firm’s all-German Silver Arrows programme, alongside the already confirmed Nico Rosberg. Secondly, it reunites Michael with Ross Brawn – the technical maestro behind his glory days at Benetton and Ferrari, as well as Jenson Button’s 2009 title.
Whispers of Schumacher’s return started shortly after Mercedes announced it was taking a controlling share in Brawn GP. Ferrari then fuelled the fire by saying it was happy to release Schu from his consultancy role with the firm. The deal was sealed following an announcement by his doctors that Schumacher’s neck was fully healed following injuries sustained during a motorbike accident early last year.
Grand prix colleagues weren’t surprised by the 91-time race winner’s decision to make a comeback. “The flame is still there,” said fellow countryman and Virgin driver Timo Glock. “It’s still burning.
It will be a highlight, and with Mercedes, you have a German driver in a German car.” Former team-mate Eddie Irvine had no doubts. “Michael has been karting since he was four or five, so he knows nothing else,” added the Ulsterman. “Trying motorcycle racing recently was madness for him as he wasn’t very good and wasn’t getting paid. But F1 makes sense.” Irvine expects him to be competitive, too. “The speed will be there, although he won’t be as fast as he was,” he said.
“He’s still good enough to win races. It’s still four wheels, a steering wheel and an engine – and there has never been anyone better than Michael.”
statistically, Michael Schumacher is the greatest racing driver the world has ever seen. In 16 seasons at the top level, he won an incredible 91 grands prix and seven world titles – including five in a row with Ferrari from 2000. He is the only German to have lifted the driver’s crown. What chance that he can do it again?
Schumacher’s F1 career
1991: Debut (driving for Jordan)
1992: One race win, third in world
1993: One win, fourth (Benetton)
1994: Eight wins, world champion (Benetton)
1995: Nine wins, world champion (Benetton)
1996: Three wins, third (Ferrari)
1997: Four wins, disqualified
from championship (Ferrari)
1998: Six wins, second (Ferrari)
1999: Two wins, fifth (Ferrari)
2000: Nine wins, world champion (Ferrari)
2001: Nine wins, world champion (Ferrari)
2002: 11 wins, world champion (Ferrari)
2003: Six wins, world champion (Ferrari)
2004: 13 wins, world champion (Ferrari)
2005: One win, third (Ferrari)
2006: Seven wins, second (Ferrari)
Schumacher’s F1 records
Most titles: 7 Most GP wins: 91
Most podiums: 154 Most poles: 68
Most fastest laps: 76 Most points: 1,369