Michael Schumacher is not interested in beginning a new career in F1 with Mercedes Grand Prix, Ross Brawn has urged – as the Englishman revealed that he is looking for 'two experienced drivers' above anything else.
The motorsport media has gone into overdrive in recent days with the prospect of the most successful F1 driver in history – with no fewer than seven world championship crowns and more than 1,000 points to his name – returning to the grid with Mercedes, the manufacturer with whom he first sprang to prominence in sportscar circles almost two decades ago.
Whilst Schumacher's official spokeswoman Sabine Kehm has sought to dismiss the fevered speculation – borne off the back of a frustrated comeback attempt earlier this year, when the German was all set to replace injured ex-Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa until an enduring neck injury from a motorcycling fall ruled him out – she has tantalisingly conceded that 'you never know'.
Meanwhile, BBC F1
pundit Eddie Jordan – the man who gave Schumacher his bow in the top flight with his eponymously-named Jordan Grand Prix operation back in the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps – professed his absolute assurance that the 40-year-old will be in the field in 2010 following confirmed meetings in Abu Dhabi with Mercedes Grand Prix team principal Brawn and Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche [see separate story – click here
What's more, a potential tie-up would make sense in that Schumacher and Brawn worked together with outstanding success at both Benetton and Ferrari, with the Englishman playing a pivotal role in helping to engineer the Kerpen native to every one of his record-breaking run of titles between 1994 and 2004. Schumacher's manager Willi Weber, however, stressed that the 91-time grand prix-winner 'has not said anything to me personally about contact with Mercedes over a driver's contract', and Brawn agreed that there is no real substance behind the story, even if the two do keep in regular contact.
“The issue now haunts the media, I know,” the 54-year-old told German publication Bild
, “but there is nothing in it. The media are trying to put together a dream. Michael would have returned to the cockpit for Ferrari, but only temporarily. He has no ambitions to start a new career.
“If we get a combination of two equally strong drivers, then the strategy will be different than if you have a winner like Michael. Following Button's move to McLaren, we will think differently. My desire is to find two experienced drivers. Nico Rosberg has more than three years in Formula 1, so I count him to be experienced.
“I do not want a novice who must find his way around racetracks, because we have very few opportunities to test drivers now. Performance without much practice is therefore the task. The good thing is we are not in a hurry.”
Of Jenson Button's defection to McLaren, Brawn would say little, acknowledging only that he will follow his former driver's battle with compatriot and title-winning predecessor Lewis Hamilton 'with great interest' and suggesting that in looking for a challenge, the Frome-born ace has certainly found one, as 'at the end one of the two will be the loser'.