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Berger: Schumacher never really left F1

Michael Schumacher's former sparring partner Gerhard Berger suggests the seven-time world champion will be immediately in the mix with Mercedes Grand Prix in F1 2010 - and will soon earn the forgiveness of Ferrari's disillusioned tifosi
Gerhard Berger has tipped Michael Schumacher to be a leading protagonist for the 2010 F1 World Championship crown upon his return to the grand prix grid after a three-year hiatus – and predicts that the indignant tifosi will soon forgive the record-breaking German legend once he appears in front of them.

In what has been described as the greatest comeback in the history of sport, Schumacher will rejoin the fray next season with Mercedes Grand Prix, slipping into the cockpit vacated by 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button.

Having initially hung up his helmet at the end of 2006 – before he was truly ready, many believe – the most successful driver of all time will now bid to further add to his outstanding career statistics of seven world titles, 91 victories, 154 podium finishes and a staggering 1,369 points, and Berger believes he is eminently capable of doing just that.

“He was never really gone,” the Austrian told German publication Auto Motor und Sport. “Michael has always been on the ball; he has been testing now and again and has competed in motorcycle and kart racing with his fighting spirit – he's also as fit as ever and has now recharged his batteries.

“I am confident that he will challenge for the world title; there will be a super fight between [Fernando] Alonso, [Sebastian] Vettel, Schumacher and [Lewis] Hamilton. With Massa, I judged him wrongly before – Felipe is better than I thought.”

In Schumacher's favour, of course, is his reunion with Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn, the man who expertly helped to guide him to every one of his world championship glories firstly with Benetton and subsequently Ferrari between 1994 and 2004 – and as a former favourite amongst the Scuderia's faithful himself, Berger suggests that the tifosi's venom towards the Kerpen native, in the wake of what they deem to be his 'betrayal' in jumping ship to join Mercedes, will pass.

“They talk like that now, because they don't have to look him in the eye,” opined the ten-time grand prix-winner, who competed against Schumacher from 1991 until his retirement in 1997. “When he (Schumacher) stands before them, they will fall to their knees and worship him.”

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has similarly claimed that the anger will be replaced with adoration come the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in September [see separate story – click here].

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
25.08.2006 Istanbul, Turkey, Gerhard Berger (AUT), Scuderia Toro Rosso, 50% Team Co Owner - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Turkish Grand Prix, Friday
Fernando Alonso arrives in style to officially open the museum complex devoted to his racing career
Karts on display at the new Fernando Alonso museum in Oviedo, Spain
One of Fernando Alonso`s karts, bearing the now familiar #14
Fernando Alonso`s first karting licence as displayed at the museum celebrating his career in Oviedo
Mercedes, Red Bull
Nico Rosberg - Mercedes W06
daniel ricciardo (aus), red bull, F1 Austria test [Credit: XPB]
Marco Wittmann (GER), Toro Rosso, F1 Austria test [Credit: XPB]
Fernando Alonso - McLaren-Honda MP4-30
Nico Rosberg - Mercedes W06
Nico Rosberg - Mercedes W06
Valtteri Bottas - Williams-Mercedes FW37
Valtteri Bottas - Williams-Mercedes FW37
Valtteri Bottas - Williams-Mercedes FW37
Pascal Wehrlein - Force India-Mercedes VJM08
Antonio Fuoco - Ferrari SF15-T
Esteban Ocon - Force India-Mercedes VJM08

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trull - Unregistered

January 06, 2010 6:04 AM

“When he (Schumacher) stands before them, they will fall to their knees and worship him.” Yeah, and then you wake up and realise its not raining its Berger pis*ing on your leg.

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