Schumacher tipped for shock F1 return

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The Independent Online

Michael Schumacher could make a surprise return to Formula One racing following Felipe Massa's crash, according to three-times world champion Nikki Lauda.

Brazilian Massa is to remain under sedation for 48 hours following emergency surgery to repair a skull fracture.

Doctors at the AEK military hospital in Budapest are encouraged by Massa's condition after undergoing a CT scan today.

"The result of the CT was reassuring. It brought the result we had expected concerning an injury of this type," remarked Peter Baszo, the doctor treating Massa.

The 28-year-old was put in an induced coma after surgery before being temporarily awoken this morning when he responded to family at his bedside and underwent a series of tests.

Baszo confirmed that to ensure Massa remains stable and to promote recovery he will not now be brought round again until Tuesday.

The Brazilian is currently stable in intensive care, but in an "acute phase" of treatment, according to Baszo.

However, in light of his injuries sustained during his accident in yesterday's qualifying session for the Hungarian Grand Prix, it is believed Massa will spend at least six weeks in recovery - leading to speculation Schumacher could make a surprise return to the sport as his temporary replacement.

Such an absence would result in Massa missing the European and Belgian Grands Prix at the end of next month.

Lauda believes Schumacher, currently employed by Ferrari as an advisor, would represent the most logical choice.

Seven-times champion Schumacher has not competitively driven a F1 car since he retired at the end of the 2006 season.

But given his knowledge of the team and the car, Lauda feels the 40-year-old would be far better suited to the task than current test drivers Marc Gene and Luca Badoer.

"I've no idea how Michael is mentally," said Lauda.

"But who else? Who is available? There is nobody available anywhere near Michael's performance. I was thinking about it, and there is nobody."

Lauda insists if he were Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, he would attempt to lure back Schumacher in a time of need for the team.

"He needs to take a decision," added Lauda.

"For the whole business of Formula One, which is ill anyway because nobody is coming, he (Schumacher) would improve it by 20 to 30 per cent interest.

"But it is a question nobody can answer because nobody knows what Schumacher is doing. But who else is he going to ring?

"The test drivers are useless, and there is nobody else here if you think about it, but if he doesn't want to do it, the idea is finished in the same second.

"But if I was di Montezemolo I would call him."

Sebastien Bourdais, released last week by Toro Rosso and managed by Nicolas Todt who also represents Massa, has also been mentioned.

But Lauda was equally as scathing of the Frenchman, adding: "What do you want to do with Bourdais? I can drive! Honestly.

"Bourdais did not do anything in Formula One with Toro Rosso. He is a real waste of time.

"There is no way Ferrari would even consider him when he couldn't perform in a Toro Rosso against (Sebastien) Buemi.

"The problem is there is a lack of up-and-coming guys."

Although Gene and Badoer are in reserve, the latter was overlooked in 1999 after Schumacher broke his leg at the British Grand Prix, with Ferrari instead going outside the team by appointing Mika Salo.

Massa was struck by a spring - which can weigh anything up to a kilogram - that had worked loose from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn GP during the middle 15-minute period.

The spring was seen bouncing along the Hungaroring track before flying over the front of Massa's Ferrari, striking him on the helmet.

The moment of impact has been recorded at 162mph, with Massa then straight-lining into a tyre barrier, with that collision recorded at 62mph.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, speaking in the paddock at the circuit today after visiting Massa in hospital last night, said: "I think he's okay.

"Everybody seemed quite happy with him this morning. The hospital is happy, which is more important.

"I'm waiting to see if I can go see him again because he might be asleep all day. If he is awake then I'll go."