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									023_RA0310   1/27/10   11:00 AM




                                                                                                                                    STILL A SCHU-IN?




                           RACING TIME
                                     If any 41-year-old can be a successful
                                     Formula 1 driver, it’s Michael
                                     Schumacher. But, can anyone?
                                     By Andrew Crask
                                     Main Images LAT, Mercedes Benz Composition Eddie Melendreras



                                            rofessional sports are a youthful pursuit and, in recent

                                     P      years, new talents have been brought to the fore at ever-
                                            younger ages in motorsports as much as in stick-and-ball
                                     leagues. But the past NFL season has seen a pushback to that
                                     trend, as Brett Favre and Kurt Warner demonstrated that
                                     motivated talent and a superb fitness regimen can keep older
                                     bodies playing at championship-caliber levels. Now, Formula 1
                                     faces a similar challenge to the reign of youth with the return of
                                     Michael Schumacher at the age of 41.
                                         The German star has been on the sidelines since retiring from
                                     Ferrari at the end of 2006. Owning the record book with seven
                                     World Championships and 91 grand prix victories, there seemed
                                     little left for Schumacher to prove. Yet his ongoing presence at
                                     the races as an advisor to the Scuderia demonstrated
                                     Schumacher’s continuing fascination with the sport.
                                     Increasingly, over the last year, he had dropped hints in
                                     interviews that a comeback was possible. When Felipe Massa’s
                                     accident last summer created a vacancy at Ferrari, Schumacher
                                     was quick to accept the team’s offer to fill in. A neck injury
                                     ultimately thwarted that comeback, but Michael pointedly
                                     refused to rule out another. When an even more enticing
                                     opportunity arose with Mercedes-Benz’s takeover of the reigning
                                     World Champion Brawn GP team, Schumacher seized it.
                                         “The motivation, I think, is pretty straightforward,” he said.        Having started with Mercedes in sports
                                     “The call I got from Ross [Brawn] at the end of November                  cars, Schumacher is the perfect choice to
                                     concerning the chance to go racing, Mercedes being involved,              lead the marque back into grand prix racing
                                     I felt great.                                                             as a constructor for the first time since the
                                         “I never left the racetrack. I was tired of F1 by the end of 2006,    days of the legendary Silver Arrows.
                                     but in three years of absence I got back all the energy that I am
                                     feeling right now. I played around with motorbikes and I feel
                                     ready for some serious stuff now.”
                                         To emphasize that this was no mere dalliance, Schumacher
                                     signed a three-year deal with the team that reunites him with
                                     the man who managed all seven of his world titles with
                                     Benetton and Ferrari. While sure that Schumacher has lost none
                                     of his edge, Ross Brawn concedes that there is a small window of
                                     opportunity to get the best out of Schumacher’s return.
                                         “We have got to provide him with a good car and, if we can,
                                          then he will do a good job,” Brawn told AUTOSPORT. “What
                                               we don’t have with Michael is a vast amount of time if
                                                     we get it wrong this year. There is a finite limit that
                                                         Michael is going to be in F1, and we’ve got to
                                                               make the most of it for the next three
                                                                   years because, almost certainly, that
                                                                        will be it. We intend to take full
                                                                             advantage of what we’ve
                                                                       
								
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