Former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemol has revealed that Michael Schumacher was close to returning to Ferrari in 2009 to replace the injured Felipe Massa.
Massa had a serious accident at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix where a flying piece of debris hit him on his helmet and caused him to crash head-on into the tyre wall.
The Brazilian needed a titanium plate inserted into his skull and would miss the rest of the 2009 season, leaving Ferrari in sudden need of a replacement.
“I was very sad when Felipe had this terrible accident in Budapest, so I asked Michael to come to my office,” Di Montezemol said at the opening of the Schumacher exhibition in Cologne.
“I said to him, ‘Listen Michael, you have to do that for me and for Ferrari – you have to come back’.
“For half an hour he could not be persuaded. After an hour he said: ‘Okay, I can not refuse this’.”
But, Schumacher was ultimately unable to return on medical grounds after a recent motorcycle accident, despite blowing off the cobwebs by testing in the F2007.
“He went into the racing department and was full of enthusiasm, like a kid or a young driver,” di Montezemolo added.
“Then he went to Mugello and did a very good test with the old car.
“Unfortunately his doctor had to stop him from returning.
“He said [Michael] was not ready, which was bad for all of us.”
Massa’s eventual stand-ins were Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella.