Michael Schumacher will receive a salary almost three times higher than that which Ross Brawn had been willing to pay reigning F1 World Champion Jenson Button, should he indeed put pen to paper and join Mercedes Grand Prix in 2010 to complete what has been described as 'one of the greatest comebacks in sport'.
It was reported in a number of German publications at the weekend that Schumacher and Mercedes – formerly Brawn GP
– had in principle agreed terms for the most successful driver in the top flight's history to return to the grid next season alongside young compatriot Nico Rosberg
in an all-homegrown 'super team' [see separate story – click here
However, whereas it had initially been understood that the offer on the table was somewhere between £3.5 million and £7 million – similar to the figure of between £4 million and £8 million bandied about regarding the deal presented to Button – the Daily Mirror
now reveals that Schumacher will likely take home an annual pay packet of some £20 million, the highest retainer in the sport following the departure of 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, albeit still £10 million less than he was paid at Ferrari.
Adding further credence to the rumours, the Scuderia's
president Luca di Montezemolo has admitted that the 91-time grand prix-winner's three-year consultancy contract is 'not binding' and that Schumacher is 'only a dear friend, not a team member' [see separate story – click here
] – and doctors have given him the all-clear to make a famous return, now that the neck injury that ruled him out of replacing former team-mate Felipe Massa
back in the summer has healed.
Should the extraordinary coup to lure the 40-year-old back into competitive action indeed come off, Mercedes will have fulfilled its promise to re-enter F1 for the first time in more than half a century with a star-studded driver line-up – only after paying Jordan Grand Prix a comparatively miserly £125,000 to ensure Schumacher of his debut in the Belgian Grand Prix
at Spa-Francorchamps the best part of two decades ago, it appears the Stuttgart manufacturer will have to shell out rather more second time around...