Mercedes today confirmed that seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher will return to racing for the 2010 season. Speculation has been rife since Jenson Button switched his allegiance to McLaren and Rubens Barrichello signed for Williams. Schumacher will partner Nico Rosberg and once again joins Ross Brawn to extend his career for a further season and race in the sport he so clearly loves.
Schumacher last drove in 2006, at the time with Ferrari and although his retirement came with a lot of emotion from both the driver and his fans, the decision to quit was probably well calculated. Ferrari, although managing the 2007 drivers title and a couple of constructors, have slipped in form. Schumacher remained with the Maranello squad though, taking on an advisory role.
Earlier in 2009, Schumacher had hoped to return to racing with the Scuderia, the intention being for him to deputise the injured Felipe Massa. However, a neck injury sustained from a biking accident prevented the multiple world champion from returning.
With the desire to race still burning, and Mercedes needing someone special to take over from the dominant form displayed by Jenson Button in 2009, Mercedes courted Schumacher and with consent from Ferrari, the German driver will rejoin the marque that helped him so much in his early career.
The motivation I think is pretty straightforward. 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. Michael Schumacher.
Although Schumacher will turn 41 in January, he has maintained his fitness regime and in the summer increased his work-outs with the then-intention of driving the Ferrari. Clearly motivation is not an issue for the German – the decision to return and potentially tarnish his illustrious career (statistically speaking, I add) would have not been taken lightly.
This means that Mercedes will field an all-German line-up next year, hopefully competing directly with McLaren’s all-British line-up. Mercedes vs. Mercedes should also prove interesting, no less than having 4 world champions in the field.