Let the rumors rest -- Michael Schumacher is back. As we reported earlier this morning, it appeared he was all set to sign with Mercedes-Benz, and now the deal is done. The newly named Mercedes GP Petronas team (nee Brawn GP) finally announced that they have signed the soon-to-be-41-year-old, seven-time World Champion to drive for the Silver Arrows team in 2010, and the BBC has already tracked him down for an extensive interview. Although most closely associated with Ferrari for returning that legendary marque to the winners circle following a decades-old drought, Schumacher does have a history with Mercedes having started his top level driving career via their junior program back in 1990 competing in Group C and DTM racing.
Besides being reunited with Ross Brawn – the man who brought him every one of his seven championships – Michael brings just a bit more experience to the Mercedes F1 team with his 248 starts, 91 wins, 154 podiums, and 68 pole positions. And even after a three-year layoff, the consensus seems to be that he hasn't missed a step. As you may remember, Michael almost made his comeback for Ferrari last year following Felipe Massa's unfortunate accident in Hungary, but he was sidelined due to neck problems related to a motorcycle racing crash. Schui has been tuning up with some karting action, most recently in Las Vegas, where he was competing against some of the best racers in the world, including fellow F1 pilots Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Sebastien Buemi.
MS will be joining fellow German Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, making the team an all-German affair. The F1 driving contract is said to be worth nearly $9.9 million to Schumi for 2010. Michael, for his part, says he has high hopes for returning to the podium right away and in fact plans to grab another championship trophy next year. Why else would he bother, right? It should be a fascinating season. Click through to the jump to watch the BBC interview Schumacher talking about his decision to return to racing and read the official statement from Mercedes GP.
[Sources: YouTube via BBC Sport, Brawn GP]
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER JOINS MERCEDES GP PETRONAS Posted: Wednesday 23 December 2009 at 11:03
The MERCEDES GP PETRONAS Formula One Team can confirm today that seven-times Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher will make his racing return in 2010 with the Silver Arrows team.
With seven Drivers' World Championships, 248 Grand Prix starts, 91 victories, 154 podium finishes and 68 pole positions, the 40-year old German needs no introduction following an illustrious and record-breaking Formula One career from 1991 to 2006 at the Jordan, Benetton and Ferrari teams.
Michael's return to racing with MERCEDES GP PETRONAS sees his return to Mercedes-Benz Motorsport where he began his racing apprenticeship as part of the Junior Programme in 1990, racing in Group C sports cars and DTM, and sees Michael renew his partnership with Ross Brawn with whom he won all seven of his World Championships.
Today's announcement confirms the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS driver line-up for the 2010 season with Michael partnering his compatriot, 24 year old Nico Rosberg, in the Silver Arrows cars.
Michael Schumacher: "MERCEDES GP PETRONAS represents a new challenge for me both in a sporting and a personal context. It is a new chapter in my racing career and I am really looking forward to working with my old friend Ross Brawn and my companions from my days with the Mercedes Junior Programme. I am convinced that together we will be involved in the fight for the Formula 1 World Championship next year and I am already looking forward to getting back onto the race track. For me, this partnership closes the circle. Mercedes supported me for so many years when I began my Formula 1 career and now I can hopefully give something back to the brand with the star."
Nico Rosberg: "It is fantastic that Michael is returning to Formula One and will be my team-mate at MERCEDES GP PETRONAS. It's a great challenge for me to be up against one of the best drivers of all time. I'm sure that we will form a very strong partnership as he will have lost none of his speed! It is also great news for our sport and the fans."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal of MERCEDES GP PETRONAS: "I am delighted that we can confirm today that Michael will make his much-anticipated return to Formula One next year and drive for our MERCEDES GP PETRONAS team. As seven-time World Champion, Michael's outstanding record in Formula One speaks for itself and I am looking forward to working with him again. With the completion of our driver line-up, I believe that we now have the most exciting partnership in Formula One with Michael and Nico, who provide the perfect mix of talent, experience, speed and youth. We can now turn our full attention to the preparations for the new season and everyone at MERCEDES GP PETRONAS is extremely excited about the challenge ahead. With the investment and support in our team provided by Daimler, Aabar and our new title partner Petronas, and with two such exciting drivers, we have all of the building blocks in place to have another successful season in 2010."
Norbert Haug, Vice-President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsports: "In April 1991, when I had been in charge of the Mercedes-Benz Motorsport programme for just six months, Michael was standing beside me on the balcony one evening. Without the slightest doubt, he said in a low voice: "It's about time that I got into Formula 1". Michael had just turned 22 years of age and four months later, he made his debut at Spa in a Jordan. Mercedes-Benz helped him to this point and the rest is history: seven World Championship titles, more than any racing driver, 91 Grand Prix wins, more than any racing driver. Michael has more of everything than every other driver. As part of the Mercedes Junior Programme, Michael had raced in Group C sports cars and competed in a few DTM races. Ross Brawn, then our opponent at Jaguar, quickly realised Michael's talent and they went on to win all seven of his Drivers' World Championship titles together at Benetton and Ferrari. Our sporting ambition has always been that Michael should drive again where his professional career had started and Michael knew that. We often joked about it after the races and discussed the prospect seriously several times during the last 14 years in Formula 1. It didn't happen in 1995, it didn't happen in 1998 and it didn't happen in 2005. I am delighted that it will now happen in 2010. I am very much looking forward to working with Michael and everybody at Mercedes-Benz and Daimler extends a very warm welcome to our 'apprentice' of 19 years ago. That apprentice is now the most successful racing driver of all time."