Mercedes Grand Prix are so eager to poach record-breaking multiple F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher away from Ferrari in 2010 that they are reportedly willing to offer him any role within the team that he wants.
The seven-time title-winner – who officially hung up his helmet three years ago, but committed to a brief return back in the summer in-place of injured former Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa at the Scuderia
, before a recurring neck injury frustratingly called his comeback off – has been repeatedly linked with Mercedes in recent weeks, and the whispers refuse to go away.
Ever since it was confirmed that the Stuttgart manufacturer had taken over 2009 F1 World Champions Brawn GP and that Jenson Button was jumping ship to partner compatriot Lewis Hamilton at McLaren-Mercedes, speculation has been rife inside the grand prix paddock that Schumacher is eyeing a full-time return to the cockpit alongside countryman Nico Rosberg in what would constitute an all-German Silver Arrows 'super team'.
Whilst neither party has been willing to comment upon the rumours, equally – and perhaps even more tellingly – neither has refuted them either, with Schumacher's official spokeswoman Sabine Kehm suggesting that it would be wise to 'never say never', and Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug making little attempt to conceal his admiration for a driver who triumphed in an astonishing 91 grands prix over the course of his 15-year career in the top flight.
Moreover, the 40-year-old's new deal with Ferrari is understood to be focussed far more on road car development, with his F1 consultancy role believed to be no more – effectively freeing him up to work for another team if he so desires.
Schumacher and Mercedes Grand Prix team principal Ross Brawn collaborated together with tremendous success at both Benetton and Ferrari – with the Englishman engineering the German to every one of his world championship crowns. What's more, though the Kerpen native first sprang to prominence whilst competing for Mercedes in sportscars in the early 1990s – what provided the springboard for his F1 graduation – he has never represented the three-pointed star on the grand prix grid.
Now, claims the Daily Mirror
, Mercedes is upping the ante – and has effectively invited Schumacher to 'choose his job'.
'The German car giant is so desperate to persuade the nation's most famous racer to join their new Formula 1 campaign as a manufacturer, they have told him he can have any job in the team even if he does not want to race,' the British newspaper states.
'Mercedes are not only prepared to put him in the seat vacated by Jenson Button's move to McLaren, but are open to discussion on a variety of other roles whether in the cockpit, management or as a roving ambassador and advisor.'
Should the bid to lure Schumacher fail, 2007 F1 World Champion and Ferrari evictee Kimi Raikkonen, experienced BMW-Sauber refugee Nick Heidfeld and Renault signing Robert Kubica are thought to be at the top of the list to partner highly-regarded ex-Williams ace Rosberg.