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Updated: August 11, 2009 16:06 IST

Schumacher calls off F1 comeback

AP
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Michael Schumacher has called off his much-anticipated Formula One comeback because of lingering injuries from a motorcycling crash earlier this year.
Michael Schumacher has called off his much-anticipated Formula One comeback because of lingering injuries from a motorcycling crash earlier this year.

Schumacher, 40, retired at the end of the 2006 season. Since then, he has raced occasionally in a motorcycling series but was injured in a crash in February.

Michael Schumacher on Tuesday announced he has called off his much-anticipated Formula One comeback because of lingering injuries from a motorcycling crash earlier this year.

The seven-time world champion was to fill in for injured Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, and hoped to return at this month’s European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain.

Schumacher said on his Web site he informed top Ferrari officials on Monday evening that “unfortunately I’m not able to step in for Felipe.”

“The consequences of the injuries caused by the bike accident in February, fractures in the area of head and neck, unfortunately have turned out to be still too severe,” Schumacher said. “That is why my neck cannot stand the extreme stresses caused by Formula One yet.

“I really tried everything to make that temporary comeback possible. However, much to my regret it didn’t work out,” he added.

“Unfortunately we did not manage to get a grip on the pain in the neck” which arose after he tested an old Ferrari at the Mugello circuit in Italy, Schumacher said.

The German won 91 races in 250 starts in an F1 career spanning 15 years from 1991.

“I am disappointed to the core. I am awfully sorry for the guys of Ferrari and for all the fans which crossed fingers for me,” Schumacher said.

“All I can do now is to keep my fingers crossed for the whole team for the coming races.”

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo thanked Schumacher for his loyalty to the team in attempting an F1 comeback.

“I am very unhappy that a problem means that Michael cannot return to racing,” Montezemolo said. “In the past few days, I could appreciate his great efforts and extraordinary motivation which had spread through the team and fans around the world.

“No doubt his return would have been good for Formula One and I am sure it would have seen him fighting for wins again,” he added. “In the name of Ferrari and all the fans, I wish to thank him for the strong attachment he displayed for the team in these circumstances.”

Ferrari announced that team test driver Luca Badoer will race in Massa’s place at Valencia.

Badoer, an Italian, was first floated by ltalian media after Massa’s crash took him off the race circuit.

Montezemolo said Ferrari decided to give Badoer “the chance to race for the Scuderia after he has put in so many years of hard work as a test driver.”

Last week Schumacher said he was slimming down for the race, but complained of some neck pain.

“I only have to admit that my neck pinches a bit. We have to get a grip on that as health has priority that’s the clear arrangement made with Ferrari and, by the way, with my wife, too,” Schumacher said.

The 28-year-old Massa underwent surgery on multiple skull fractures after he was hit in the helmet by a loose part from another car and crashed into a protective tire barrier during qualifying for Ferrari at the Hungarian Grand Prix last month.

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