Fire in his eyes, Schumacher returns to the wheel of an old Ferrari

Michael Schumacher test-drives a 2007 Ferrari in Maranello on Friday. AP

The seven-times world champion is poised to fill in for injured Ferrari driver Felipe Massa at the European Grand Prix in Valencia on August 23 and will continue to race until the Brazilian is able to return to action.

Italian media said the 40-year-old, who retired at the end of 2006, had gone out for a few laps in the car at the Mugello track near Florence. 

F1 testing is banned during the season but Schumacher is being allowed to drive an old car as he undergoes a programme of preparation to make sure he is fit to race in Valencia.

Massa is unavailable after fracturing his skull in an accident at last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.

“Although I can’t drive this or last year’s car, I still want to drive as much as I can and this is a good option,” Schumacher wrote on his website www.Michael-Schumacher.de.
“He will try to drive as much as possible to familiarise himself again with the challenges of driving in a Formula One car,” said Schumacher’s spokeswoman Sabine Kehm.

Schumacher flew on Thursday from his home in Switzerland to Ferrari headquarters in Maranello to check the steering of the 2009 Ferrari on a simulator as well as getting measured for a specially moulded seat in the F60. “I obviously also used the time to get further advice from the engineers about how we should progress,” said Schumacher, whose last F1 race was the Brazilian GP Oct 22, 2006 in Sao Paulo.

Despite Schumacher’s long time out of F1, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo told German television station ARD in an interview in Rome that he was sure the German would cope.

“When I called Schumacher into the office, I saw the fire in his eyes,” he said.

Massa doing well

Meanwhile, Massa is doing "very well" and will be flown back to Brazil on Monday, his personal physician said on Friday.  "Felipe continues to improve. He is doing very well and we already decided to go back home (Brazil) on Monday," physician Dino Altmann told reporters in front of Budapest's AEK military hospital.

Agencies

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