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Schumacher: What if?

NEWS STORY
05/12/2007

A four-way championship fight for much of 2007, not to mention the spy saga and the sensational arrival of Lewis Hamilton, meant that, contrary to speculation, Formula One was not left in limbo following the retirement of Michael Schumacher.

There was excitement when he attended the Barcelona test in February, and the journalists and photographers hounded him when ever he attended races in his new role as... well, whatever his official job title was.

However, by mid-season the German was attending less races and spending more time with Corinna and the kids, texting or phoning his messages of support to the team after each victory.

When Kimi Raikkonen occasionally faltered, there were some who instantly claimed that 'Schumacher wouldn't have made such a mistake', however, by the time the Finn turned the season on its head to take the title, there were probably some new F1 fans who were saying 'Michael who?'

Then came Patrick Head, who opined that he wouldn't be surprised to see the German partnering Lewis Hamilton in 2008, a comment which led to some wondering whether the Williams boss was finally losing the plot.

However, the announcement that Schumacher was to take part in a two-day test at Barcelona, even if mainly for fun, had many wondering whether Patrick had got it right.

It is the stuff of legend that Schumacher was not only competitive in Spain, he dominated the timesheets, leading to Ferrari inviting him back for further running at Jerez this week.

However, despite the obvious hunger, Schumacher, who claims he surprised himself with his pace, continues to insist that he is not contemplating a return to F1.

Maybe the German really doesn't have any intention of returning to F1, after all he doesn't need the money, and, as we have said so many times before, not only does he have nothing to prove, he can only lose by returning to the sport. Should he see off the young pretenders it would be claimed that as a seven-time champion this is as it should be. Whereas, should he fail to beat the Hamiltons, Rosbergs and Vettels it would be this for which he would be remembered, certainly in the short-term.

While Michael has said he is not considering a return to F1, he has not totally ruled out a return to racing, and consequently one has to wonder whether plans are already in place for a return to the track.

Much has been made of the deal which will see Ferrari provide the chassis for A1 Grand Prix from 2008, the series fourth season, even though some are still wondering why. At present, the only (apparent) winner in this deal is Ferrari.

Although the racing is usually excellent, a lack of 'names', together with poor TV coverage, means that the series has failed to seriously capture the public's imagination.

Clearly there is room for A1 GP, and unless the organizers were confident for the series' future the Ferrari deal would never have been put in place.

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