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Page last updated at 09:59 GMT, Sunday, 23 August 2009 10:59 UK

Schumacher rules out race return

Michael Scumacher
Schumacher, now 40, is a seven-time world Formula 1 champion

By Andrew Benson
BBC Sport in Valencia

Michael Schumacher has ruled out making a comeback to Formula 1 this year - and almost certainly ever.

The seven-time champion had to pull out of a return in place of Ferrari's injured Felipe Massa at the European Grand Prix due to a neck injury.

And asked by Italian television station Mediaset about rumours of a later return, he said: "No. I'm not thinking about doing any races. My life is OK."

His Ferrari replacement, Italian Luca Badoer, qualified last in Valencia.

Badoer, Ferrari's long-time reserve driver, was given his chance after 10 years away from racing as a thank you for his commitment to the team.

Team boss Stefano Domenicali told BBC Sport: "It was the right decision to choose him after what he has done for the last 10 years.

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"He has risked his life for our racing drivers and it is a reward Ferrari wanted to give him for that."

Badoer, 38, is expected to keep his seat for next weekend's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, but Ferrari may want to replace him if his performance does not improve.

Badoer failed to get out of the first knock-out qualifying session on Saturday after setting the slowest time of the 20 drivers.

The gap between him and the 19th fastest man, Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari, was larger than the margin between the Spaniard and the fastest man in that session, Brawn's Jenson Button.

Ferrari have another reserve driver, the 35-year-old Spaniard Marc Gene, but have so far given no indication of what they may do if Badoer does not improve.

Whatever happens, though, Schumacher will not be in the car.

The 40-year-old German discovered after testing a 2007 Ferrari at the team's demanding Mugello test track that a neck ligament he injured in a motorcycle accident in February had not healed.

Doctors say the injury could take anything up to two years to fully recover - by which time Schumacher would be 42.

Schumacher added: "For the moment, I don't have any plans to start another attempt to come back."

Schumacher frustrated by injury

His spokeswoman Sabine Kehm said he had only added the qualifier in the statement because he did not want to be accused of misleading people in the event of another set of unforeseen circumstances.

Kehm explained to BBC Sport that Schumacher had "never regretted his decision" to retire at the end of 2006.

He had only agreed to drive for Ferrari this season because of the accident suffered by Massa.

The Brazilian, who was something of a protégé to Schumacher, suffered a fractured skull and injured left eye when was hit on the head during qualifying for last month's Hungarian Grand Prix by a spring that had fallen off the Brawn of his friend and countryman Rubens Barrichello.

Schumacher is understood to have been enjoying his life in retirement and not considering any return to F1 until it became apparent that Ferrari were interested in using him to fill in for Massa until he could return.

The unusual circumstances, and the connection he felt to both Massa and Ferrari, for whom he raced for 11 years, meant he changed his mind.

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Even then, Kehm said, he had never considered extending any comeback into next year.

It is an open secret in F1 that Renault's double champion Fernando Alonso will move to Ferrari in 2010 even though both Massa and Kimi Raikkonen have contracts for that season.

The team had originally intended to partner him with Massa, but his accident has complicated the negotiations the team are having with Raikkonen's advisers about paying him off.

It is uncertain when - or even if - Massa will be able to race. He has targeted a return for his home grand prix in October, but Barrichello said this weekend that he doubted whether that was a realistic prospect.



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see also
Schumacher sad at F1 abandonment
12 Aug 09 |  Formula 1
Schumacher frustrated by injury
12 Aug 09 |  Formula 1
Schumacher calls off F1 comeback
11 Aug 09 |  Formula 1
Ferrari fume at rivals' test snub
05 Aug 09 |  Formula 1
Massa leaves Brazilian hospital
04 Aug 09 |  Formula 1
Schumacher makes shock F1 return
29 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Schumacher's career in photos
29 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Michael Schumacher profile
02 Oct 06 |  Drivers


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