Michael Schumacher is to get another couple of days of track testing before making his Formula One comeback in next weekend's European Grand Prix in Valencia.
The German, denied the chance to sample one of the current breed of F1 Ferrari by the objections of Williams and both Red Bull teams, is to return to the cockpit of an older car - most likely the 1007 version he ran in two weeks ago - for two days of intensive running in a bid to assess the fitness of his neck as much as to re-adapt to the business of racing..
"It is currently planned that Michael will drive Tuesday and Wednesday at Mugello,“ Schumacher's spokeswoman Sabine Kehm told Bild
, "He can again use the 2007 car belonging to [Ferrari's] F1 Clienti, albeit on his own initiative and at his own expense."
Kehm confirmed that the session would be 'a closed test' a Schumacher makes his final preparations in readiness to stand in for the injured Felipe Massa alongside Kimi Raikkonen in Spain.
The seven-time world champion will also debut a new Schuberth helmet, complete with improvements designed to combat a repeat of the injuries sustained by Massa. The Brazilian incurred a fractured skull, concussion and eye injuries after being hit by a spring shed from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Schumacher's helmet - made by the same manufacturer as both regular Ferrari drivers as well as others on the F1 grid - will feature additional strengthening around the vulnerable area where the visor and shell meet, despite a spokesman denying that Massa's visor was ripped off its mountings by the impact with the spring. A new titanium disc will replace the previous plastic component to prevent RF1 losing its visor in the event of an impact.
"Felipe's visor was only torn off when the doctors pulled on it," Schuberth's Oliver Schimpf revealed, "but we have nevertheless inserted a titanium disc at the transition from the visor to the helmet, where it was previously plastic. It is a reaction to the accident and, now, the area is twice as stable.“
Schumacher has apparently three of the 'new' helmets for his comeback, at cost of €12,000 apiece, and each will feature the now familiar red colour scheme with yellow and black to reflect the German flag and the Prancing Horse to show his continuing allegiance to Ferrari. However, the Jens Munser-painted design will also feature the names of the entire Schumacher family in Chinese characters, while the driver's famous seven stars remain on the crown.