x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Schumacher F1 return 'not impossible'

The return of Michael Schumacher to replace the injured Felipe Massa at Ferrari is definitely possible, says Johnny Herbert.

Michael Schumacher has held an advisory position with the Ferrari team this year and could be the right replacement for injured Felipe Massa.
Michael Schumacher has held an advisory position with the Ferrari team this year and could be the right replacement for injured Felipe Massa.

The return of Michael Schumacher to replace the injured Felipe Massa at Ferrari for the final seven races of the season is definitely possible. That is the view of the German's former teammate Johnny Herbert, who believes that Schuamcher would do a good job for the Italian team despite having been retired for nearly three years. The seven-times world champion, who won 72 races and five world titles driving for the team between 1996 and 2006, has been linked with a return following the head injuries suffered by Massa in Hungary last weekend, which means the Brazilian is unlikely to race again this season. Schumacher, 40, has been involved with the team since retiring and worked as a sporting consultant. Herbert, who raced alongside the German at Benetton in 1995, thinks it is plausible to see the most successful driver in Formula One to return. "I don't think it is out of the question," he said. "I am not sure what the situation and relationship is between him and the team at the moment but it is not impossible to think of him returning. "Michael looks as if he has kept himself very fit, but he hasn't driven a Formula One car for a couple of years and that may be an issue. "He is certainly capable of doing it and it is something that I could see happening if Ferrari decide that is where they want to go." Schumacher's agent Sabine Kehm said he would consider any offer that came from Ferrari, but his manager Willi Weber said a return was unlikely. But in an interview with a German magazine earlier this year, Schumacher had stated he felt he was still capable of competing. He said at the time: "Purely mentally and the way I feel physically, one could get the feeling that I could still drive to win." Ferrari's other options are to use their reserve driver Marc Gene, or try a newcomer, something Herbert thinks has advantages and disadvantages. "The option is to go for a younger driver and look to the future with seven races to go," he said. "They are not in contention for either championship and this could be the chance to bring a young driver through. Maybe someone like Bruno Senna, but the problem again is the lack of testing which makes it hard to put a driver straight in."

gcaygill@thenational.ae