Michael Schumacher should 'go for it' and take the opportunity to make a sensational F1 comeback with Mercedes Grand Prix in 2010, advises former title rival and sparring partner Damon Hill – as the 1996 world champion suggests the German perhaps has some 'unfinished business' at the highest level after being pushed out of Ferrari three years ago before he was ready to leave.
Though neither side has said anything particularly concrete to substantiate such wild speculation, still the rumours linking Schumacher to Mercedes next season refuse to go away – and, indeed, make sense on a good number of levels.
The Kerpen native was engineered to every one of his seven drivers' crowns by Mercedes Grand Prix team principal Ross Brawn – two at Benetton and five at Ferrari – as the duo struck up the most triumphant partnership in F1 history. What's more, he was frustrated in his efforts to return to action for the Scuderia
in-place of injured former team-mate Felipe Massa during the summer by a recurring neck injury from a motorcycling fall – an injury that has now ostensibly all-but healed.
At the time, Schumacher made little secret of his disappointment at being unable to go ahead with his planned comeback, and it was clear that his neck aside, he remained comfortably fit enough to do the job and cope with the physical strains and G-Forces of top flight competition.
With the desire to race still burning bright – and, Hill contends, a chapter to close after being effectively manoeuvred out of Ferrari back in 2006 to make way for the incoming Kimi Raikkonen, the man viewed at the time as the 91-time grand prix-winner's long-term replacement – the President of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) suggests a return to the grid for the most successful F1 driver of all time is far from fanciful.
“I honestly do not think it would be wrong for Michael Schumacher to come back,” Hill wrote in British newspaper The Times
, talking about the adversary with whom he duelled tooth-and-nail for the title in both 1994 and 1995. “If I can win a race when I was 37 in a Jordan, then Michael can definitely win a race in a Ross Brawn car at 41. Ross has already won the championship, so it should be a competitive car to start with next year, and we are talking about Michael Schumacher – and he is a bit of a robber's dog.
“He is exceptionally fit. He has never done anything else in his life – it's the only thing he has devoted himself to – and the fact that he has gone and raced motorbikes shows that he has still got the need for speed. I don't think he retired in the way he wanted to in 2006. I think he was pushed, rather than deciding to stop. It was a political thing and Ferrari were pushing him to make a decision, so it was slightly unsatisfactory and maybe there is unfinished business with him.
“The only problem I see is the neck injury he sustained bike racing this year that stopped him coming back to replace Felipe Massa in the summer – but if that has cleared up, I don't see why he's not fit enough and motivated enough to put in some more star performances.
“There are things that people do and they are risky, but somehow they are driven to do them – for example, Sir Ranulph Fiennes going up Everest in his mid-60s. They are pushing the limits of what people are doing, and I think some people are built for that – and Michael is one of those. If this is what Michael wants, he should go for it. He can do something he enjoys and show everyone that he is a nice guy underneath and that he is a sportsman.”