The motorsport press rumor mill is grinding away at full speed on a juicy bit of gossip and speculation that Michael Schumacher is being groomed to take over as head of Scuderia Ferrari. After his retirement, Schumacher took on a role as a special advisor to Ferrari chief Jean Todt. It was supposed to be a low-key, backstage kind of position that would let the seven-time world champion continue to impart his experience to the team, but it apparently hasn't been as hands-off as they made it out to be: Schumacher has reportedly made more visits to Maranello and sat in on more key meetings in the past few months since his retirement than he did during the entire 2006 season.

An unnamed source inside Ferrari was quoted as saying that Schumacher's current level of involvement points to only one conclusion: that he's preparing to step in as team leader -- and it would make sense. A lot of F1 pundits said that it would be entirely likely for Schumacher to head up a team after retiring from active racing, but how could he leave Ferrari for another team? Ferrari today is the house that Michael built. He brought in the key staff, revamped the way the team works and turned it into a winning tour de force. Jean Todt has been looking to step away from directly managing the team since being promoted to overall head of Ferrari, but hasn't been able to up to this point. He's needed a capable successor.

Of course, Schumacher's representatives have denied it up and down, but it's hard to avoid the logical conclusion when all the pieces fit.

[Source: F1i]