For several months now, the Formula 1 racing circuit has witnessed courtroom battles, threats of a spending cap, calls for the dismissal of FIA President Max Mosley and the recent, near-fatal accident of Ferrari driver Felipe Massa. As a black cloud hangs over the season and interest in the sport declines in North America, a ray of hope has emerged. The best thing to happen to Formula 1 racing since Michael Schumacher has re-entered the fray and his name is, Michael Schumacher.
On the day that BMW announced they would be joining Honda on the sidelines as another manufacturer forced to leave the sport due to the current economic climate, Ferrari stole the headlines and announced that 7-time Driver's Champion Michael Schumacher would return to the Prancing Horse for the final five races of the season.
A veteran of 250 F1 races and a winner in 91 of those races, Schumacher returns to the track and many believe it will be as if he never left. Despite retiring in October of 2006, the racing legend never stopped being involved with Ferrari and he has maintained the cardiovascular and fitness levels that saw him on the podium 154 times during his career.
For the first time in years, Ferrari finds themselves in third place, well behind the leaders in the Constructor’s Championship; trailing Brawn GP-Mercedes by 74 points and Red Bull-Renault by 58.5 points. The return of Schumacher may not be enough to unseat Brawn GP in the Constructor standings but it will certainly help television ratings as F1 fans tune in to see if Schumacher can pull the famous Ferrari car across the line in a podium position.
News of the life-threatening injury to Massa shook up the racing world but recent reports indicate he will recover sufficiently from his injuries and if his left eye heals as expected, he could return to the track for next season. The 28-year old Brazilian driver, injured in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix when a broken part from Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn GP car hit him in the helmet and sent Massa into the barrier at 190 km/h, suffered an eye injury and multiple skull fractures in the crash. The quick efforts by track doctors and hospital staff are major factors in his recovery.
Now out of the critical care ward, Massa has begun to walk around his room; joking with family and staff that Schumacher’s comeback will only last for five races as he plans to be behind the wheel again in 2010.
At the official Formula 1 website, Massa’s personal doctor, Dino Altman is quoted as saying, “As far as the near future is concerned we have to be cautious, but I have to say that there are very positive signs.”
With Massa expected to recover and the return of Michael Schumacher, Formula 1 is in the headlines with some positive news. As NASCAR and a unified INDY Series take control of the North American market, F1 desperately needed some good news in what has become a season to forget. Only time will tell if Schumacher’s return is enough to keep the series in the headlines for the right reasons but for now, the clouds are slowly lifting. Have a great sports day everyone.