Schumacher makes F1 return
|By Jonathan Noble||Wednesday, December 23rd 2009, 10:28 GMT|
Michael Schumacher will return to Formula 1 in 2010, after Mercedes GP confirmed on Wednesday that the seven-time world champion is joining its team next year.
The German, who will turn 41 in January, has been linked with the outfit ever since Mercedes-Benz took over Brawn GP. He finally concluded a three-year deal to make a sensational F1 return on Tuesday evening.
"The motivation I think is pretty straightforward," Schumacher said. "The call I got from Ross at the end of November concerning the chance to go racing, Mercedes being involved, I felt great.
"I never left the race track. I was tired of F1 by the end of 2006, but in three years of absence I got back all the energy that I am feeling right now. I played around with motorbikes and I feel ready for some serious stuff now."
Schumacher originally retired from F1 at the end of 2006, and he had appeared fully content to be away from the pressures and strains of racing in motor sport's top category.
He maintained links with F1 through an ambassadorial role with Ferrari, and his on-track activities revolved around outings in a kart and a move to motorcycle racing.
However, last season Schumacher agreed to a comeback as a temporary stand-in for the injured Felipe Massa at Ferrari. Despite training hard for the return, however, Schumacher's plans had to be called off due to a neck injury that he had sustained in a motorcycle crash earlier this year.
"It is obviously a topic that I understand is questioned, and I want to understand," Schumacher said when asked about his neck. "Before I gave a final okay I made sure that I was sure myself, and I can say 100 per cent the neck is no further issue.
"Unfortunately it was too close to the accident in the summer when I tried for Ferrari, but the time now is enough to have healed completely. I can do everything I used to do, and no problem."
The events of the summer appeared to have rekindled his enthusiasm for F1 and when Brawn GP failed to conclude a deal with world champion Jenson Button for 2010, Schumacher was instantly installed as the favourite to replace him.
The deal could not be concluded until Schumacher's neck was given the all-clear by doctors but once that happened, talks advanced quickly to seal the deal.
Schumacher's move to Mercedes GP marks a reunion between himself and the German car maker that helped push him into F1.
He raced for Mercedes-Benz as part of its junior driver programme, competing in world sportscar events during 1990 and 1991.
Schumacher's decision means that Mercedes GP will field an all-German driver line-up in 2010, having already confirmed several weeks ago that Nico Rosberg will race for it.