Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher warmed up for the new Formula One season with a test session in Jerez — already getting ahead of his rivals who won’t be testing until next month.
Schumacher, who is returning from retirement, is taking part in a three-day session testing a GP2 car as well as his fitness ahead of the 2010 F1 season beginning in March.
Official Formula One testing does not begin until February 1 in Valencia, but Schumacher has been given approval from international motorsport federation FIA to drive the GP2 development car.
The tests come three weeks after the 41-year-old German announced his return to Formula One racing with the new Mercedes GP team after three years in retirement.
Schumacher completed fast five laps in the car before returning to the pits in a session which also enabled him to check his early fitness behind the wheel.
A neck injury had prevented his comeback as replacement for the injured Felipe Massa with Ferrari last season, but Schumacher maintained in announcing the comeback with Mercedes that he was now fully fit.
Schumacher, who was accompanied by two Mercedes engineers and a physiotherapist, is helping improve the set-up and technical details of a new generation of GP2 car from the 2011 season.
Schumacher last week visited the team’s factory in Brackley and Brixworth in England to meet the engineers and get to know their working structures.
He said on his website he was “extremely positive surprised about how motivated everybody was” at Brackley.
“This a world champion team but it does not seem to be spoilt by success at all; it seems to be hungry for more instead,” he said of the Mercedes outfit, which has taken over from last year’s championship winning Brawn GP team.
He said he was also encouraged to discover how highly motivated everyone was at Brixworth “as it fits my personal mood.” He added: “What I also liked was that you hear a lot of people speaking German there. That is nice for once, I am not so much used to that at my work, and I find it quite convenient.”