F1 Driver News Roundup: Yes, Virginia, There Is A Schumacher


283797989__commission_schumacher As both the title of this post and the photo to the left of this text indicate, you may soon be seeing Michael Schumacher return to an F1 track near you—not as any mere consultant, either, but as an actual driver. However, you may also note the lack of red anywhere in that photo. That, too, is indicative of a future that’s looking more and more likely as of this writing. Follow the jump for more.

Mercedes (formerly Brawn GP, as you’ll no doubt recall despite the roller coaster ride that was the 2009 season and the following off-season) has definitely signed Nico Rosberg for 2010. What’s been up for contention, however, is who they’re going to place alongside him. As of this moment, more and more likely signs are pointing toward Michael Schumacher filling that gap (pending his doctor’s approval).

Eddie Jordan started the ball rolling awhile ago, and while that rumour could have easily been dismissed at that point (the man does love to talk, after all), it instead continued to gain steam as many other credible individuals came forward to discuss it rather than dismissing it outright.

We at CarEnvy.ca try to be fairly responsible when bringing you news. After all, it is F1, and if we had a penny for every groundless rumour circulated in this past year of the sport alone, we’d have paid for our annual web hosting a few times over already. However, Mercedes CEO Nick Fry himself is adding to the speculation rather than denying it outright, as he should have done if he didn’t want to fan the flames of idle speculation. He spoke with The Times and said:

“I think whether it be Michael or having another prior world champion, it just adds another very interesting element. Can someone who is 40 or 41 compete against someone who is 24? In other sports people have proven that they’re very capable, even at that age, and I think that would add another fascinating aspect.”

Regarding when Mercedes plan to make their formal announcement, he went on to add, “we might say something before Christmas, but it’s more likely to be the beginning of January.”

As we noted previously, Renault’s sale effectively makes Robert Kubica a free man. Even prior to the sale, rumours abounded that Kubica might be keen to jump in the saddle next to Rosberg. Which way Mercedes GP will go will, of course, remain to be seen.

Meanwhile, Kimi Räikkönen’s restful year-long WRC sabbatical may extend further than the 2010 season. His WRC co-driver Kaj Lindstrom said:

“He’s seen F1, and now he’s really looking forward to rallying and if we can see that he can improve and the results are coming, then I think he will be more interested in continuing with rally, rather than returning to F1.”

Räikkönen will be driving for Citroën’s junior C4 team in 2010, but in a bout of freaky coincidence, Citroën Factory team head Olivier Quesnel reportedly mentioned to Auto Hebdo magazine last week that, “We are not asking for the impossible for a first season, but it is clear that if he progresses and shows the right level, then he could slot into the first team.”

Joining the starting grid for the 2010 F1 calendar will be Brazilian newcomer Lucas Di Grassi, who has been a test driver for Renault for the past two years. He’ll be driving for Virgin Racing, which will be the official name given to Manor GP, and will be officially announced next week. CarEnvy.ca is quite sure that indeed, whatever it takes, he knows he can make it through…

Finally, Proton Lotus F1 has made the announcement that Jacques Villeneuve is not on their short list for consideration for a drive with their team. Team boss Tony Fernandes does say, however, that they’re considering the talents of Jarno Trulli, and that they hope to make an official announcement regarding their driver lineup within a week’s time.