Michael Schumacher could be set for a shock return to the Formula One cockpit behind the wheel of a Mercedes GP.
The seven-time world champion reportedly lost his position as an advisor to the Ferrari F1 team as part of a new three-year contract agreed in September, with Schumacher instead concentrating on road car development.
Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug has fuelled speculation that Schumacher could drive one of his two cars, likely as a team mate to Nico Rosberg, while Schumacher's own spokesman has refused to rule out a move to Mercedes.
"I have every understanding that all the people in Formula 1 worldwide want to know who the drivers will be now," said Haug. "It's not finally decided, but I think and hope we can announce something in the course of the next couple of weeks. We will do a very good job in that respect as well I can promise you – and maybe we can create some surprises."
Fellow German Nick Heidfeld has been linked to the team as Rosberg's partner, but his capture would hardly be a "surprise". Both Haug and Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche have spoke of the need of having a German in the Mercedes team, something which never happened in its time as a McLaren shareholder.
Schumacher is widely believed to want to return to the sport having retired at the end of the 2006 season. His planned comeback in 2009 was aborted due to fitness concerns, while Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo's plans to run a third car for the German appear to be a non-starer.
Schumacher’s spokeswoman Sabine Kehm didn't rule out the German returning to F1, but admitted it was "unlikely" at the moment. "Although you never say never in this sport," she said.