After a two week long build up to the Formula One comeback of all time, the fans are left disappointed. Michael Schumacher announced that the pain in his neck stemming from a motorcycle accident earlier this year would allow him to race at the European Grand Prix at Valencia. He re-aggravated his injury while testing a privately-owned Ferrari F2007.
On his website, Schumacher issued a statement saying:
Yesterday evening, I had to inform Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo and Team Principal Stefano Domenicali that unfortunately I’m not able to step in for Felipe. I really tried everything to make that temporary comeback possible, however, much to my regret it didn’t work out. Unfortunately we did not manage to get a grip on the pain in the neck which occurred after the private F1-day in Mugello, even if medically or therapeutically we tried everything possible.
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. That is why my neck cannot stand the extreme stresses caused by Formula 1 yet. This are the clear results of the examinations we did on the course of the past two weeks and the final examination yesterday afternoon. As there were no improvements after the day in Mugello, I decided at short notice on Sunday to do that thorough examination already yesterday.
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. I can only repeat that I tried everything that was within my power. All I can do now is to keep my fingers crossed for the whole team for the coming races.
Ferrari has since announced that long-time test driver Luca Badoer will fill in for Massa at Valencia. Badoer obviously doesn’t match up to Schumacher when it comes to stats, skill, or legacy. However, Badoer has been the Ferrari test-driver since 1997, though he did drive for Minardi in 1999. He does have a legacy in Formula One. He hold the record for most race starts without scoring a point with 48 starts and a career-best finish of 7th at the 1993 San Marino Grand Prix. The last of his starts came at the 1999 Japanese GP when he dropped out with an engine failure. He will also become the oldest driver on the grid when the F1 circus rolls into Valencia. He will be 38 years young on August 23rd. (Rubens Barrichello will be only 37.)
So without Michael on the grid, we’ll have to settle for this interview to remember him by. At least he still has a day job he can go back to.