Michael Schumacher has revealed that he and Ferrari tried everything they could to make it possible for him to return to F1 for the European Grand Prix in Valencia next weekend – as observers argue it would be wise never to say never with regard to a comeback for the record-breaking seven-time world champion in 2009.
In the wake of Felipe Massa's qualifying accident in Hungary late last month – with a blow to the head leaving the Brazilian hospitalised for nine days in intensive care and requiring emergency surgery to a skull fracture and serious eye injuries – Schumacher was announced as the man who would replace his former team-mate until the São Paulista was well enough to drive again.
However, a lingering neck injury of his own – sustained following a motorbike fall at Cartagena in Spain back in February, from which Bild
newspaper reports Schumacher 'was lucky he did not have to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair' as he fractured bones in both his head and his neck and damaged an artery supplying blood to the rear of his head – has subsequently forced the German legend to abandon his plans. A testing outing to re-acclimatise himself to F1 ahead of his return resulted in the unfortunate conclusion that his neck would not stand up to the intense pressures and strains of a grand prix.
Schumacher has admitted that he was disappointed not to be able to follow through with his comeback, and insisted that he could not have prepared any better for his return to the cockpit as nobody could have predicted the situation that befell Massa.
“Nobody knew we would have this tragic accident for Felipe, so it wasn't planned at all,” the 91-time grand prix-winner is quoted as having said by the BBC
. “I don't think there was any other chance to do it any other way.
“No simulation can produce the demands an F1 car puts on the body, so we needed to test to find out. We did everything in the most prepared way possible, and it didn't work out.”
Whilst urging that the possibility of a future return to action – Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has evoked the notion of running Schumacher in a third car in 2010, should the FIA choose to pursue the three-car teams route [see separate story – click here
] – is not at the forefront of his mind at the moment, two of his compatriots have hinted that nothing is out of the question.
“Constant speculation in this business is pretty natural,” acknowledged the 40-year-old in a press conference. “Lots of people have opinions, but the matter of fact is I'm very disappointed not to do what I was looking to do. It (a future return) is certainly not something I'm thinking about right now, as I just had to take a very tough decision to say no to what I wanted to do.
“If I understood my doctor correctly, there is no purely medical reason to stop me [from returning in the future]. There are no reasons why it couldn't happen at some point, but I don't feel like thinking too much about the future right now.”