Michael Schumacher apparently rejected the opportunity to become Ferrari's new sporting director when the Scuderia reshuffled its technical team at the end of 2007, according to Jean Todt.
With the Frenchman moving upstairs to take on a broader role within the Ferrari operation, and Ross Brawn not returning to Maranello after opting for the technical director role at Honda, Todt apparently suggested that Schumacher was the best candidate for the sporting director position - only for the German to decline.
According to quotes attributed to Todt by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport
, the seven-time world champion was put forward for the role, which eventually went to Stefano Domenicali, but decided that he could not commit the time necessary.
"Michael Schumacher was the best candidate of all, but he has not accepted," Todt confirmed, disappointed that his 'protégé' had stepped back.
With few other obvious commitments other than devoting himself more to his young family, one conclusion to be drawn from Schumacher's rejection of one of the most powerful roles in F1 could suggest that he has other irons in the fire. He spent the 2007 campaign as 'special advisor' to the team, helping Felipe Massa and occasionally testing the F2007, most notably at season's end when he posted the fastest time on two consecutive days in Spain.
A return to racing, in the top flight at least, is still seen as unlikely, especially with Fernando Alonso hotly tipped to partner Kimi Raikkonen at Maranello from 2009, but Schumacher's competitive instinct is clearly alive and well, as he demonstrated in last month's Race of Champions at Wembley, where he reached the final of the individual event and helped Germany take the Nations Cup.