Ralf Schumacher has confirmed that he has received 'interest' from Stefan GP owner Zoran Stefanovich – and in hinting that he is genuinely considering a top flight return in 2010, the German opined that the Serbian businessman 'makes a very serious and purposeful impression'.
It has emerged in recent weeks that Stefan GP – which having purchased the ready-designed Toyota TF110 chassis' and the Japanese manufacturer's Cologne F1 headquarters, is now on standby, waiting and hoping to receive an entry for the forthcoming campaign should any of the existing teams falter, most likely Campos Meta 1 or USF1 – is eyeing six-time grand prix-winner Schumacher to lead its challenge in its maiden season of competition on the grand prix grid.
Schumacher has not raced at the highest level since departing the fray at the end of what was by far the least successful of his eleven years in F1 in 2007, and in the intervening two seasons he has plied his trade with modest results in pan-European touring car series the DTM for Mercedes-Benz.
However, his three campaigns spent with Toyota F1 make the 34-year-old on paper a strong candidate for a Stefan GP berth should the team indeed be given the green light to compete in 2010 – and the younger brother of comeback king Michael Schumacher has now acknowledged that he is tentatively evaluating a similar return of his own.
“Mr. Stefanovic makes a very serious and purposeful impression,” he told German newspaper Bild
. “I have noticed that he is interested in me, but I will say no more at the moment because there is nothing more to say. Whether this will become an actual option remains to be seen.”
Stefan GP is being strongly supported by influential F1 ringmaster and commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone, who has openly admitted that he expects perhaps neither Campos nor USF1 to ultimately make the field. The Belgrade-based outfit has already shipped a container of equipment to Sakhir in preparation for the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix, and has scheduled a shakedown test of its S-01 chassis at Portimão in Portugal later this month.
Other, wilder reports indicate that Stefan GP has come to an agreement with Italian chassis-builder Dallara – disgruntled by Campos' repeated failures to pay on time – to buy the rights to the car that is presently being produced for its beleaguered Spanish rival. Adrian Campos has vehemently denied any such claims [see separate story – click here