The momentum behind a possible return to Formula One by Michael Schumacher gathered pace on Monday when Ferrari announced they would not stand in the seven-time champion’s way.
Schumacher has acted as a consultant for Ferrari since his retirement in 2006, a position he would have to relinquish if he took up a reported 7 million euro (US$10 million) deal to drive for Mercedes next year.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said the 40-year-old German’s role was “not binding,” a statement that removed yet one further obstacle to what would be a dream return not only for new outfit Mercedes and F1 fans but also for the sport’s organizers.
Di Montezemolo, in comments on the BBC’s Web site, added: “If he takes another road our agreement will no longer be valid.”
“You can’t work with a competitor and with us at the same time,” he said. “I still haven’t spoken to him about it. He is only a dear friend, not a team member. He is a consultant for our road cars.”
Schumacher was all set to return to the fast lane in August as a replacement for the injured Felipe Massa at Ferrari, only for his comeback to be thwarted by the neck injury he sustained in a bike accident in February.
Schumacher’s neck injury is now understood to have fully healed.
On Sunday reports from Germany suggested Schumacher had agreed a deal to drive alongside Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, the team that powered Jenson Button to the drivers’ title racing as Brawn GP.
Mercedes bought out the British-based outfit which rose from the ashes of Honda, with as its guiding light Ross Brawn, Ferrari’s former chief engineer.
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