Niki Lauda has said that Michael Schumacher's decision to make a return to F1 racing could be partly fuelled by a feeling that he retired too soon.
Schumacher quit the sport at the end of the 2006 season having picked up a record seven championship titles, but will now make a return for the European Grand Prix in Valencia after being asked by Ferrari to stand in for the injured Felipe Massa.
The German driver has already spent a day testing a 2007-spec F1 car as part of his preparations but will be unable to drive the current F60 until the Valencia race weekend after rival teams blocked a request to give him a day long test.
His decision to return has already taken many of the headline during F1's summer break and Lauda said he felt the decision to return would have been an easy one to make.
“He was never able to detox himself of the racing bug, as we have seen with his on-track motorcycle activities,” he told the official F1 website. “In my opinion he retired at the end of the 2006 season because he couldn't see a real challenge - and probably he regretted his decision. Now he's got the unique chance to step in for the injured Massa to help his former team, and to find out for himself how competitive he still is.
“This is something that would also interest me, because this hunger for competition - for the adrenalin rush - never dies. It's in our DNA. And the situation as it is now at Ferrari, with a recovering Massa and an available cockpit, gives him the chance to explore how far he's off the top. That is a question that always puzzles a top driver like he was.”
While Lauda made his own comeback to F1 and went on to secure a world title, Schumacher's return will only be until Massa himself is declare fit to resume his career, and Lauda insisted that Schumacher's decision was nothing more than an experiment.
“I actually won the second race back after my retirement, but Michael is not racing for any championship,” he said. “I came back because I wanted to win, if my comeback was successful. For Michael it's nothing more than an interesting experiment.”