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Mercedes boss hints at F1 return for Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher
Schumacher, who has won 91 grands prix, could be set for a return

Mercedes boss Nick Fry has dropped the strongest hint yet that Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher will come out of retirement to race next year.

The 40-year-old last raced in Formula 1 in 2006, but he has been strongly linked with a return to the sport with the renamed Brawn GP team.

Fry made it clear the seven-time world champion was top of his list, saying: "He would be very good for our team.

"The view from inside F1, not just my team, is they all hope it will happen."

Schumacher has been working as a consultant with Ferrari since his retirement, but the Italian team has confirmed they would not block him from joining Mercedes.

And although Schumacher has yet to comment on stories suggesting his move to Mercedes is a done deal, BBC Sport understands his return to F1 as team-mate to Nico Rosberg is looking increasingly likely to happen.

Fry added: "I can't tell you at this stage [if it will happen], unfortunately.

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"A number of drivers are still available if Michael were to decide not to drive. Then there are alternatives that we would be happy to go with."

Schumacher almost returned this year as a temporary stand-in for Ferrari's Felipe Massa after the Brazilian's accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix, but the plans were dropped as he had still to fully recover from a motorcycle injury earlier in the year.

However, his neck is now thought to be fully healed, paving the way for his potential return, BBC Formula 1 commentator Jonathan Legard saying: "He's kept himself very fit and this has been in the background for some time.

"I bet if he's keen to do this he'll have at least a month-and-a-half of hard work done already. As I understand it it could happen before the end of the year."

I don't want to say any more, or talk about any plans he might have

Schumacher's spokeswoman Sabin Kehm

Schumacher's spokeswoman, Sabin Kehm, refused to comment, saying: "I don't want to say any more, or talk about any plans he might have."

But compatriot and Virgin driver Timo Glock believes Schumacher's return is a certainty.

"The flame is still there, it's still burning. For me, it is quite obvious he is coming back," said Glock. "There's still a lot of speculation, but in the end he is a crazy race driver and he wants to come back to racing.

"It's not enough for him to just do go-kart races, or go to the Race of Champions at the end of the year.

"For F1 and the fans it would be a big boost, a seven-time world champion coming back after three years out.

"It would be a mega highlight, and to drive for Mercedes, you would have a German driver in a German car."

Eddie Irvine, Schumacher's former team-mate at Ferrari, said the German had struggled to find an outlet for his ruthless competitive streak since retiring.

"He's been bored I think. Very, very bored and he's definitely up for it," Irvine told BBC Radio 5 live.

"I hope he comes back, it will be fantastic for F1.

"In F1, you're on show and got to perform, whereas in the real world it's months or years before you can get the same rush. Michael has been karting since he was four or five so he knows nothing else.

"He tried the motorcycle riding which was sheer madness because he wasn't very good and wasn't getting paid so I never understood that one, but F1 makes sense."

He's not at the peak of his game, but he's still good enough to win races

Eddie Irvine on Schumacher

However, Irvine added that while Schumacher would still have the speed to be competitive, younger drivers such as Lewis Hamilton could have a psychological edge.

"Lewis isn't going to back off, but Michael will have to because he'll be 41. The speed will be there, though he won't be as fast as he was seven years ago.

"He's not at the peak of his game, but he's still good enough to win races as he has such an immense talent. It's still four wheels, a steering wheel and an engine and there's never been anyone better than Michael."

While Schumacher would hope to be towards the front of the grid should he return, meanwhile, Glock has more modest ambitions for next season in a car making its championship debut.

"To beat Michael would be a good year for us, but we have to concentrate on ourselves, and not look at what others are doing," said the former Toyota driver.

"We have to focus on our job, that's what is important."



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see also
Ferrari clear way for Schumacher
14 Dec 09 |  Formula 1
Di Grassi joins new Virgin team
15 Dec 09 |  Formula 1
Mercedes want Schumacher - Jordan
20 Nov 09 |  Formula 1
Mercedes confirm Rosberg capture
23 Nov 09 |  Formula 1
Mercedes takes over Brawn F1 team
16 Nov 09 |  Formula 1


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