Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Schumacher calls off his return to Formula One, Badoer set to drive for Ferrari

Seven times World Champion Michael Schumacher has cancelled his return to Formula 1 due to the neck injuries he suffered in a motorcycle crash earlier in the year. According to Schumacher's official website, he told Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo and team principal Stefano Domenicali late on Monday evening that despite trying very hard, he still was not fit enough to race. The fractures in the area of his head and neck are still too severe to take the strain of the G-Forces encountered in a Formula 1 car. As a result, a hugely disappointed Schumacher told Ferrari that he will not be able to stand in for the injured Felipe Massa.

Schumacher suffered his accident while doing a German superbike test at Cartagena in Spain in February this year. He had been looking forward to taking part in the German superbike championship, but following the accident, had to cancel those plans. Since he announced his return to Formula 1 to stand in for Massa, Schumacher had done a private test with an F2007 at Ferrari's Mugello test track in Italy couple of weeks ago. After doing about 70 laps at the Mugello circuit that day, which is much higher than the standard race distance on that track, Schumacher said that his neck had been paining a little bit. He was supposed to do another two days of testing at the same track with the same car today and tomorrow. Before that though, he did a final thorough examination on his neck yesterday and it appeared that his neck still was not up to par to take the affects of driving a Formula 1 car. Subsequently, he had to call off his Formula 1 return.

Schumacher said in his statement that he is disappointed to the core and is awefully sorry for the guys at Ferrari and for his fans all over the world. He said he has tried everything within his power to make his comeback possible, but that his neck is just not ready to take the extreme stresses of Formula 1 yet.

Ferrari later announced that in light of Schumacher cancelling his comeback, they will be drafting in test driver Luca Badoer to stand in for Felipe Massa. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said that they are unhappy that Schumacher will not be able to come back to racing, but they appreciate his great efforts and extraordinary motivation which has spread through the team and fans all over the world.

Di Montezemolo, in agreement with team principal Stefano Domenicali, have decided to give Luca Badoer a chance to race for the Scuderia after he has put in so many years of hard work as a test driver. The 38-year-old Italian Luca Badoer has been a Ferrari test driver since 1998 and last took part in a competitive race with Minardi in 1999.

Personally, I am very disappointed and sorry that Michael Schumacher will not be making his sensational comeback. Although, it is true that the legendary German has given us years of happy memories to live with, his five World Championships with Ferrari (the other two was won with Benetton), and for a long long time he will continue to be statistically the best Formula 1 driver in the world. So the man does not have anything else to prove, since he has broken almost every single record there is in the record books of Formula 1. Now he has every right to enjoy his retirement with his family.

Coming back to Ferrari and Massa's replacement, I am a bit perplexed as to why Ferrari did not go with their other test driver Marc Gene instead of Badoer. Gene has recently taken part in this year's 24 hours of Le Mans endurance racing, which means that he has a lot more recent racing experience than Badoer. So in my point of view, Gene would have been a more obvious choice. But the bosses at Ferrari and Fiat run a big organisation, so I will trust them that they know what they are doing.

It is now just about 10 days to go until the first Free Practice session of the European Grand Prix at Valencia. Until then, drive safely everyone!

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