Schumacher easing his way back towards F1

MICHAEL Schumacher started his preparations for his Formula 1 return yesterday by getting behind the wheel of a GP2 car to begin a three-day testing session.

The 41-year-old German driver came out of retirement to drive for Mercedes this year, but didn't have an ideal start on the Jerez circuit in Spain as cold and windy conditions meant Schumacher could only run very limited mileage on slick tires.

Schumacher, a record seven-time world champion, is taking part in tests with the F1 feeder series to help with the development of the 2011 GP2 car. With out-of-season F1 testing limited, Schumacher is also using the sessions to prepare for his return.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Luckily I have never given up in terms of driving something, either motorbikes or go-karts. I had a test obviously last summer in a Formula One (car] so it is straightforward to bring the car back to the limit. Despite the weather not being what we all would have liked all my senses were nevertheless on full alert – this alone was worth it. I felt comfortable out on the track from the very beginning," he said. "We have two purposes, one is to get as many kilometres as possible for myself and the second priority is to get to know the engineers and get to work together."

Meanwhile, Nelson Piquet Jnr will compete in NASCAR this year after failing to clinch a return to Formula 1.

Although there are a handful of seats still available in F1, the 24-year-old who was embroiled in the "crashgate" scandal last season will have to content himself with watching the sport from afar.

Late last year Piquet tested a NASCAR truck, and although he has not specifically stated in which series he will compete, that is the likely favourite ahead of the Nationwide or Sprint Cup events.

Speaking on his personal website, the former Renault driver said: "Being successful in Formula One was always my goal but I have learnt that happiness is just as important as ambition.

"After my first 18 months in F1 did not go as planned, I have decided to focus on something different and have chosen to take a route in America. NASCAR is hugely challenging, and nobody has ever come in as an outsider before and gone on to win it. It will be the ultimate challenge. I have always been open to new challenges."