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Schumacher set to make comeback with Mercedes

THE Ferrari president, Luca di Montezemolo, has confirmed that Michael Schumacher’s return to formula one with Mercedes Benz is now a near certainty. Montezemolo revealed that the 40-year-old German phoned him on Wednesday morning and told him there is ”a very, very, very strong possibility” that he will make a return to the arena he left in 2006 with 91 grands prix wins.Montezemolo joked that it must have been Schumacher’s evil twin brother, but confirmed that he has released him from any Ferrari consultancy obligations. ”The real Michael Schumacher was with us, a Ferrari consultant who many times said he would finish his career with us. But now there is another one that looks like him, a German, same name, same determination, and he has decided to do a new career,” Montezemolo said.”Everyone can do what they prefer and I can understand someone at 41 years of age [Schumacher’s birthday is on January 3] wants to try again.”I like these people, but he’s not Michael, he’s another Michael that I personally don’t know. The real one told me he will finish his career with Ferrari so I think it’s possible that the twin, who looks very similar, will drive for Mercedes next year. As a friend I see someone so fit and with determination and it’s good for F1, but as chairman of Ferrari I’m sad.”Schumacher has been quoted many times saying that he would finish his career with Ferrari, but Montezemolo, who was instrumental in persuading him to attempt a return to the cockpit when the team’s Felipe Massa was injured in July’s Hungarian grand prix, said he had not been in a position to offer the seven times champion a drive next year.”After Hungary I was very worried about Felipe,” Montezemolo said. ”I called Michael into my office and said, ‘I need you. I need you to replace Felipe.’ For five minutes, and it was five minutes and not 10, he said, ‘No’. Then it was, ‘Yes’. Michael says that I convinced him well, but the truth is that he was ready to be convinced. It would have been perfect for him – in the middle of the season with a car that was not competitive and with not so much pressure.”Schumacher’s prospective return was scuppered when he tested a Ferrari at Mugello in Italy and discovered that his neck, fractured in a motorcycle accident in February, had not healed sufficiently. Ferrari then ended its contract with the 2007 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, scheduled to run until the end of 2010, a year early, bringing forward the arrival of the 2005 and 2006 champion, Fernando Alonso, to partner the recovered Massa.Montezemolo advocated running a third car to the FIA, the sport’s governing body, in an attempt to accommodate Schumacher. ”The situation today is different to the middle of the year,” he acknowledged.”Ferrari has two young drivers. We tried to push for the third car, something I strongly believe in. Not a third Ferrari, but a third Ferrari managed by another team. I think formula one needs competitive cars and drivers. I wanted a situation where a driver like Michael can be on the grid. But that wasn’t accepted.”Montezemolo insists there is no animosity between them. ”When you have a 15-year collaboration with a driver you become friends,” he said. ”Some Ferrari fans think he’s a traitor, but I tell them, it’s not the real Michael, it’s another one. Michael took a lot from Ferrari and also gave us a lot. If I’d offered him something and he’d said no, I’d be very upset, but I was not in a position to offer him a drive, so I can’t say anything.”Schumacher is believed to have told Ferrari that he would be unable to provide more accurate information on his neck until January, which was too late for the team. Mercedes is understood to be awaiting that outcome before committing fully, with the situation not aided by the recently introduced formula one testing ban in the interests of cost-cutting.
Nanjing Night Net