Could Ralf Schumacher be following his brother’s footsteps in a Formula 1 comeback. That’s the latest gossip coming from the paddock rumor mill. The younger Schumacher, who left F1 at the end of 2007 when he was dismissed by the now defunct Toyota team, has been linked with open seats at Toro Rosso, Sauber and Renault.
The most likely option would seem to be Toro Rosso. While that team has confirmed Sebastien Buemi for 2010, they have yet to do so for semi-rookie Jaime Alguersuari, who did little to distinuish himself during the several races in which he appeared last season, after replacing Sebastian Bourdais.
Given that testing is severely limited under the current rules, it’s entirely possible that a team like Toro Rosso, who will be forced to develop their own chassis in 2010 (rather than sharing technology with their sister team, Red Bull) would find it more expedient to employ a more seasoned driver like Ralf Schumacher, who would likely be of greater value in sorting out a new chassis than would either Buemi or Alguersuari.
It’s also true that Schumacher has a personal connection with Toro Rosso’s team principal Franz Tost. Tost was hired by Schumacher’s then manager Willi Weber to look after the young German in his first year in F1, when he raced for Jordan. As reported on Racer.com, Schumacher said of the rumor, “Franz Tost and I are very good friends. But it should be understood that I am not going to name any teams. It is all speculation.”
Schumacher also allowed that he had received an offer by one of the new teams that will show up on the grid in 2010 (i.e. Lotus, Virgin, Campos or USF1), but he indicated that he’d turned it down.
While Schumacher has given only coy responses to questions regarding a comeback, Franz Tost has been more definitive. As Tost told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, “I know nothing about it. It’s not true and that’s that. As far as I am concerned, it’s nonsense.”
Of course, it was only a couple of weeks prior to Michael Schumacher’s announcement that he would return to the Formula 1 with the Mercedes GP squad that Ross Brawn had told the press that rumors of a Schumacher comeback were entirely groundless. And yet, we now know that Brawn first broached the subject with Schumi back in early November, the week of the 2009 finale at Abu Dhabi.