Seven-times champ agrees to stand in for Massa in European GP
29 July 2009

Seven-times Formula One champion Michael Schumacher is to make a shock return to the sport at the European GP in Valencia.

The German will stand in for Ferrari's Felipe Massa, who is recovering in hospital after sustaining life-threatening injuries in a freak accident during qualifying for last weekend's Hungarian GP.

Schumacher had been linked with the return since it became Massa would not be able to return in time for the race, which takes place after F1's summer break, on 23 August. But as recently as yesterday, Schumacher's manager Willi Weber was denying that a comeback was being considered.

However, this afternoon, in a prepared statement, Schumacher said, "It is true that the Formula 1 chapter has long been closed for me. The most important thing first: thank God, all news concerning Felipe is positive, and I wish him all the best again.

"This afternoon I met with team principal Stefano Domenicali and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and together we decided that I will prepare myself to take the place of Felipe. As the competitor I am, I also very much look forward to facing this challenge."

The carefully worded statement does not make specific reference to the number of races that Schumacher will contest, so it is conceivable that he will complete the remainder of the season in Massa's car, allowing the Brazilian to make a full recovery before deciding whether or not to return to the sport himself.

Schumacher's return could be the former champion's greatest challenge yet; he has not tested this year's Ferrari F1 car and has not driven an F1 car at all since April last year.

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