Patrese Hopes for Schumacher Comeback

Formula One record holder Riccardo Patrese says he would like to see former teammate Michael Schumacher win back the World Championship next year and then retire

Patrese Hopes for Schumacher Comeback

The Italian, whose record of 256 Grands Prix starts from 1977 to 1993 remains unsurpassed, is motivated more by self-interest than any concern that Ferrari's seven-times champion could race on past his sell-by date.

Schumacher will have notched up 231 starts, or 232 if you include the French Grand Prix of 1996 in which he retired on the warm-up lap, by the end of the season.

Mathematically out of the Championship, for the first time since 1999, the 36-year-old has a year left on his contract although Ferrari have said the door is open for him to stay on.

"I think he still has a lot of motivation. I would like him to win the championship next year so he can go away with the title in his pocket," Patrese told Reuters on Wednesday.

"For a champion like him it should be good to have the last season winning the Championship, because if he doesn't win maybe he wants to go on...to beat my record."

Renault's young Spaniard Fernando Alonso can inherit the German's title in Belgium this weekend, providing he beats McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen by four points, and Patrese said the change was good for Formula One.

"He (Alonso) can be (a multiple champion) if he has the package that stays at the same level as this year," he said.

"I think he is a consistent driver who doesn't make mistakes and is quick," said Patrese, who partnered Schumacher at Benetton in 1993. "But, you know, I think Ferrari will come back next year."

Masters Series

Patrese, 51, was at Silverstone for a seat-fitting for the Grand Prix Masters series which plans four or five races a year with a cast of ex-Formula One names.

The Italian has not raced for more than a decade but demonstration runs in old cars at the Goodwood Festival of Speed rekindled the old fire.

"The pleasure of having a racing wheel in my hands came back and when we talked about this opportunity I thought it was a good idea," said the winner of six Grands Prix.

All the drivers must be more than 45 years old and those signed up includes Patrese's former title-winning teammates Nigel Mansell and Alan Jones as well as France's four-times champion Alain Prost.

The first race is set for Kyalami in South Africa in November.

"It's good to be with old friends and the fact that we know each other very well should make for a good atmosphere," said Patrese.

It will also bring a big boost in horsepower. Patrese's passion since retirement is show jumping, with a daughter in the Italian national team.

"I follow her many times to her competitions and I've started to ride and jump myself," he said.

"Instead of having 850 horsepower, I had only one. Now I'll be starting again with 600. But I'm not worried - I think at the moment I have more danger when I am jumping with a horse than racing a Formula car."

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