Ferrari clears the way for Schumacher comeback
German legend expected to join Mercedes for next season as national teams emerge in F1
German motor-racing legend Michael Schumacher appears set to return to Formula One in a move that could usher in a new era of national rivalries in the sport.
The seven-times world champion, now 40, has been given the all clear by Ferrari to make his comeback as a driver for another team after they said they would not stand in his way if he wanted to get back behind the wheel.
Schumacher had been working as a consultant with the Italian team and extended his deal for a further three years in September. But Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has revealed that the arrangement is non-binding.
"It's clear that if he decides to take another road our agreement will no longer be valid, that is logical. You can't work with a competitor and with us at the same time," he said.
That paves the way for Schumacher to join the German Mercedes team, which has taken over Brawn GP that last year won the constructor's and driver's titles. At Mercedes he would partner fellow countryman Nico Rosberg. That all-German outfit would provide plenty for the all-British McLaren team of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button to think about and add an unusual element of nationalism to the sport.
There would be the added interest of a generational battle between a legend like Schumacher and his heir apparent Lewis Hamilton.
Schumacher's appetite for driving appears to have been whetted after he came close to a comeback for Ferrari last season. Despite retiring in 2006 he was lined up to replace Felipe Massa after he was injured in Hungary, but was ruled unfit to get back in the cockpit because of a neck injury.
He is now said to be fit and ready to drive again. Mercedes are reportedly prepared to pay him upwards of £7m for the season. ·
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