Michael Schumacher and Mercedes Grand Prix have reached a 'verbal agreement' for the most successful driver in F1 history to make a sensational return in 2010 with the reigning world champions, it has been reported in the German's national media.
The deal is for one year only, it is understood – with the common school of thought being that Mercedes intends to poach Red Bull Racing prodigy Sebastian Vettel for the following season and beyond – and completes what Bild
magazine describes as 'one of the greatest comebacks in sport'.
The only remaining obstacle, Focus
magazine adds, is the successful completion of the mandatory FIA medical examination – particularly in the light of the recurring, motorcycling accident-induced neck injury that ruled the 91-time grand prix-winner out of substituting former Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa at Maranello earlier this year.
What's more, Focus
reports that the contract is for €3.5 million – around half the figure that was originally being bandied about [see separate story – click here
] – suggesting that money is not the motivating factor in the decision, with Schumacher having made little secret of the fact that the competitive fire inside of him had been re-awakened following his ultimately abortive plan to rejoin the fray in Massa's stead during the summer.
If true, the news means that the Kerpen native will partner compatriot Nico Rosberg and rekindle his ultra-successful working relationship with team principal Ross Brawn, after the Englishman expertly engineered him to all seven of his record-breaking tally of world championship crowns firstly at Benetton and subsequently Ferrari between 1994 and 2004.
The agreement also reputedly includes a sports ambassadorial role with Mercedes on a longer-term basis – a move that would necessitate the severing of all ties with Ferrari, for whom the 40-year-old has been employed as a special advisor since hanging up his racing helmet at the end of the 2006 campaign. According to an 'insider' who spoke to Bild
, the deal is a formality should Schumacher receive the medical all-clear and the Scuderia
agree to liberate him from his commitments.
“Schumacher feels fit and healthy,” the insider confided. “The last tests were very positive. He can't wait for the return and working with Ross Brawn again.”
Whilst official spokeswoman Sabine Kehm refused to comment on the matter, a source close to Schumacher's management team admitted to Eurosport Yahoo! Germany
that the stories are now 'more than just rumours', and triple F1 World Champion Niki Lauda told Bild
: “World champion-maker Ross Brawn, Mercedes and record world champion Michael Schumacher – that would be a sensational combination.”
British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) President Damon Hill has contended that a comeback would allow Schumacher to close up the 'unfinished business' left behind following his 2006 retirement, suggesting that his former title rival was pushed rather than jumped from Ferrari to make way for Kimi Raikkonen, the man viewed by team management at the time as his natural replacement [see separate story – click here
] – and Ralf Schumacher agrees that he has 'no doubt' his brother could successfully rejoin the field.