on August 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Schumacher tests Ferrari ahead of comeback

ROME (Reuters) – Michael Schumacher returned to the wheel of a Formula One car Friday when he tested a 2007 Ferrari in the first step of his comeback.

The seven-times world champion is poised to fill in for injured Ferrari driver Felipe Massa at the European Grand Prix in Valencia on August 23 and will continue to race until the Brazilian is able to return.

The 40-year-old, who retired at the end of 2006, drove 67 laps at the Mugello track near Florence.

“It’s a great thing getting back on the track with an F1 even if this was a car from 2007,” he told www.ferrari.com.

“After a couple of laps I was able to drive constant lap times and I’m happy with the performance. Now we’ve got to see how my body and the muscles respond in the next days.”

F1 testing is banned during the season but Schumacher was allowed to drive an old car as he undergoes a program of preparation to make sure he is fit to race in Valencia.

Media have speculated Formula One bosses will bend the rules and permit him to test this year’s car before Valencia given the special circumstances.

Massa is unavailable after fracturing his skull in an accident at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

(Reporting by Mark Meadows; editing by Nigel Hunt and Pritha Sarkar)