Button salutes 'brave' Schumacher

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The Independent Online

Jenson Button has described Michael Schumacher as "very brave" for taking up what he sees as a no-win challenge.

At the age of 40, seven-times world champion Schumacher will make a sensational return to Formula One at next month's European Grand Prix in Valencia.

Schumacher answered Ferrari's call for help given Felipe Massa's absence after the Brazilian required life-saving surgery to repair a fractured skull following a freak accident on Saturday in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Driven by loyalty to a team that helped him win five of his titles, and a competitive instinct that clearly still burns within him after nearly three years in retirement, Schumacher was only willing to lend a hand.

Current world championship leader Button has applauded Schumacher for stepping into the breach, with the German to trade in his advisory role with Ferrari of late for racing gloves and helmet again.

"It will be good to have Michael back out there racing again," said Button, speaking at the launch in Birmingham of Bridgestone's Driving Nation roadshow designed to gather opinions on motoring today.

"There are very good people out there racing at the moment, but to have Michael there again will be very special, although I'm sure we all wish Felipe was there also.

"But it's a strange situation because the reason for Michael being there is because another driver can't take part.

"In a way Ferrari are very lucky because they've someone working in their team who can jump straight into the car and be competitive, and Michael will be.

"It's an interesting one, though, because if he wins people will say they expected him too, and if he doesn't, they will say he should not have come back.

"So it's a tough position for him to be in, although I'm happy he has taken up the challenge. It's very brave of him."

Button, whose lead in the drivers' standings has been cut to 18.5 points over the last three races in which he has struggled in his Brawn GP, also naturally expressed his relief that Massa is on the mend.

Massa is making rapid progress from surgery required after the 28-year-old was struck on the helmet at 162mph by a suspension spring that had worked its way off Rubens Barrichello's Brawn GP.

"It was a horrible accident, a freak accident," added Button.

"But it's a good thing he is up and about now, moving around, and that the operation went well.

"It's great everything is going well for him, and hopefully he will be back racing soon."