Depending on which reports you believe, either Michael Schumacher has no intention of making a full-time return to Formula 1 racing in 2010, or he has already verbally agreed to a one year deal with Mercedes GP.
Ever since it was announced that Mercedes would acquire Brawn GP, and that Jenson Button would defect to McLaren next year, speculation has grown that Michael Schumacher would return to the cockpit in 2010 to partner Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, creating a de facto Team Germany. These rumors have been fueled, in part, by the fact that such a move would reunite Schumacher with his old team mate from his glory years at Ferrari, Ross Brawn. Together, they made one of the most potent combinations in Formula 1 history.
While many reports have suggested that Mercedes has made Schumacher a concrete offer of approximately 6.5 million euros for a one-year deal, most stop short of indicating whether or not the German has made a decision yet. A report in today’s Daily Mirror, however, claims that Schumacher has verbally agreed to a one-year deal worth 22 million euros.
Schumacher, as you might recall, recently renewed his consultancy contract with Ferrari for a three-year stint. The new deal was to see him focus his attention on Ferrari’s road car program, while spending less time on the pit wall at race venues. Naturally, this agreement might stand in the way of Schumacher’s jumping to Mercedes GP. If the Mirror’s report is to be believed, however, Schumacher has found an escape from his Ferrari commitment based on a technicality. Apparently, the new Ferrari deal has been agreed to in principal, but no contract has yet been signed.
According to the report, “Although the pact between Schumacher and Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo was only verbal, the Italians, who made him champion five times, have been stunned by the U-turn.”
It should be noted that no official confirmation has been made by any of the concerned parties, i.e. Mercedes, Ferrari or Schumacher himself. On the other hand, at a recent karting event in Kerpen, Germany, where Schmacher was raised, and where his father still owns and operates a karting facility, neither Schumacher nor his spokesperson would deny the rumors outright.
Mercedes executive Nick Fry has indicated that an official announcement regarding their mystery driver should be forthcoming by Christmas.