Schumacher calls time on return to F1

Former champion's injured neck rules out much anticipated reappearance as Ferrari driver

And so, to the chagrin of many, the greatest comeback since Niki Lauda will not happen after all, after Michael Schumacher reluctantly called the Ferrari president, Luca di Montezemolo, on Monday to tell him that his neck simply was not up to the strain of racing in Formula One.

Just as the news of the seven-times champion's impending return ignited the imaginations of fans around the world, so the announcement came as a bitter disappointment. In a statement put out on his website, the 40-year-old German broke the news that he could no longer be considered as Ferrari's replacement for the injured Felipe Massa.

"Yesterday, I had to inform Luca di Montezemolo and team principal Stefano Domenicali that unfortunately I'm not able to step in for Felipe," he said. "I tried everything to make a temporary comeback possible, however, it didn't work out. Unfortunately we did not manage to get a grip on the pain in the neck which occurred after the test day in Mugello, but we tried everything possible."

Schumacher injured his neck in a serious accident while he was testing a Honda superbike at Cartagena in Spain, six months ago. He knocked himself out and sustained some unpleasant injuries that, on medical advice, curtailed his motorcycling career.

It was always clear from the Schumacher team's insistence on full medical examinations at each stage of his test programme that the injuries were of concern, and his statement continued: "The fractures in the area of head and neck, unfortunately have turned out to be still too severe. That is why my neck cannot stand the extreme stresses caused by F1."

In the end he felt there was no option but to pull out of the planned comeback. "I am disappointed to the core," he said. "I am awfully sorry for the guys of Ferrari and for all the fans which crossed fingers for me. I can only repeat that I tried everything within my power."

Schumacher had been planning to conduct further tests at Mugello yesterday and today with a Ferrari F2007 "borrowed" from Ferrari's "Clienti" department, which operates historic customer cars. At pains to distance that from any association with the official Formula One team, and thus not to arouse accusations that Ferrari could be seen to be breaching the gentleman's agreement against in-season testing following the refusal by Williams and the Red Bull teams to let him test a pukka 2009 car, Ferrari let it be known that Schumacher was paying for these tests himself. He had also been testing for the TonyKart team as he worked on his strength, fitness and endurance. The negative medical report, however, rendered further work redundant.

The news puts Ferrari in a quandary since Massa, notwithstanding the speed of his initial recovery from head injuries received in Hungary, is quite likely to sit out the rest of the season in order to ensure that he is fully fit for 2010.

"I am very unhappy that a problem means that Michael cannot return to racing," Montezemolo said. "In the past few days, I could appreciate his great efforts and extraordinary motivation. No doubt his return would have been good for F1 and I am sure it would have seen him fighting for wins again. I wish to thank him for the strong attachment he displayed for the team."

Rather than take a potential risk on running an up-and-coming young driver, Ferrari have plumped for one of their test drivers. "In agreement with Stefano Domenicali, we have therefore decided to give Luca Badoer the chance to race after he has put in so many years of hard work as a test driver," Montezemolo said.

Back-seat driver: Luca Badoer's life and times

Luca Badoer, from Montebelluna, will be the oldest driver on the grid, at 38. A former Formula 3000 champion, he developed into a journeyman grand prix driver who competed in 49 races with a best finish of seventh place, after making his debut for BMS Scuderia Italia in South Africa in 1993. Subsequently he raced for the back-of-grid Minardi, Forti Corse and Fondmetal Minardi teams before taking the role as Ferrari test driver in 1998.

In 1999 he was crushed to be passed over in favour of Mika Salo when Michael Schumacher broke a leg at the British GP, and later wept as a best-ever finish of fourth place slipped away in the European GP at Nürburgring when his Minardi's gearbox broke. He thus remained the driver with the highest number of races to his credit without points.

His biggest asset is that he is familiar with Ferrari's F2009 car after "testing" it regularly on the team's factory-based simulator.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments