Michael Schumacher behind the wheel of the Ferrari F2007 at Mugello – Click above for high-res image gallery
Michael Schumacher's hopes of testing the 2009 Scuderia Ferrari F60 may have been dashed, but that doesn't mean the seven-time world champion is resting on his proverbial laurels. In addition to a rigorous fitness regimen to lose weight (he's already dropped three kilos) and tone up his muscles, Schumi's found another way to get behind the wheel of a Ferrari F1 car thanks to the company's F1 Clienti department. The service maintains several retired F1 cars for wealthy customers, and Schumacher's reportedly ponied up out of his own deep pockets for some seat time.
Following the announcement last month that he'd be filling in for the injured Felipe Massa, Schumacher took the old F2007 for 70 laps around the company's Mugello circuit, which you can view in the high-res image gallery below. And this week he'll be back at it again, running the car – which he also tested to considerable effect after his retirement – on the GP2-spec tires which the Clienti division fits to the grand prix cars for customer use.
However, while Michael may be hard at work preparing for his return, said comeback is anything but guaranteed at this point. With his neck still hurting from a motorbike accident, his physical condition could keep him from getting back on track, at which point it'd be anybody's guess as to who would take his place. Schumacher's longtime manager Willi Weber is confident that his client will be ready, but apparently learning from his mistakes – having been left literally holding his hat when Schumi lost the 1997 title to Jacques Villeneuve – Webber has also reportedly ordered that production of merchandise celebrating Michael's comeback be canceled in the interim. Schumacher's longtime strategist Ross Brawn, now directing Jenson Button's championship lead, has given Michael a vote of confidence, however, betting on Schumacher winning a race this season as assuredly as his own team will win the title.
UPDATE: Schumacher has confirmed on his own official website that the comeback will not happen due to his neck injury from earlier in the year.