Schumacher to replace Massa

 

Motor Sport: Michael Schumacher has agreed to stand in for the injured Ferrari Formula One driver Felipe Massa for the rest of the season, the Italian team have announced. The seven-time world champion will return to the pit lane for the first time since retiring in 2006.

Schumacher, Formula One's most successful driver with 91 wins, is still a consultant to the Italian team with whom he won five titles and remains in good physical condition, working out regularly.

"Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro intends to put Michael Schumacher in Felipe Massa's car until the Brazilian driver will be able to race again," Ferrari confirmed in a statement.

"Michael Schumacher said he is ready and, over the next few days, will undertake a specific training programme at the end of which confirmation will be given of his participation in the championship with effect from the European Grand Prix on the 23rd of August."

Massa, last year's championship runner-up, fractured his skull in an accident during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday and remains in intensive care in a Budapest hospital.

The Brazilian, a close friend of Schumacher from their time together at Ferrari, was hit just above his left eye by a bouncing spring weighing almost a kilo that broke free from compatriot Rubens Barrichello's Brawn car.

Massa was due to leave intensive care today after taking his first steps since he fractured his skull.

"The driver has had more exams carried out, confirming his continuing improvement," the team said. "Felipe speaks, can sit upright and was even able to take his first steps. Today he will leave intensive care."

Massa underwent emergency surgery on Saturday after being flown to the hospital in what doctors said was a life-threatening condition.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, who went to Massa's bedside on Monday when the Brazilian was under sedation, was flying back to Budapest to greet him.