Schumacher said pain in his neck that occurred after initial training simply would not go away, kyboshing his dreams of returning to the F1 circuit for his old team Ferrari.
“I informed Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo and team boss Stefano Domenicali yesterday evening that I can’t fill in for Felipe” Massa, the former seven-time F1 champion said in a statement. “I tried absolutely everything to make this comeback possible in time, but to my deepest regret it didn’t work.”
The 40-year-old retired from racing in 2006, but he was primed to replace the injured Massa for the European Grand Prix in Valencia on August 23. Recent medical tests showed that he had not fully recovered from his motorcycle accident in February, though.
Schumacher said he had tried “everything medically and therapeutically possible” to alleviate his pain to no avail.
The door for a sensational Schumacher comeback to the sport he dominated for so long was opened when Brazilian Massa sustained serious head injuries during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest on July 25. That ruled him out for the rest of the season and the Italian team immediately turned toward their former top driver to step in.
His planned comeback to racing added more spice to what has already been a dramatic season, but was not welcomed by all, especially Formula One rivals Williams, who invoked rules and regulations to block his testing Ferrari’s current car ahead of Valencia.
That would have left him desperately short of practice for the race, but as it turned out it was physical more than mechanical reasons that spoiled his return.
“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,” he said. “All I can do now is to keep my fingers crossed for the whole team for the coming races.”
Ferrari announced that the team’s test driver Luca Badoer would take the place of Schumacher replacing Massa for the European Grand Prix. The 38-year-old Italian has competed in five Grands Prix during his career, the last being in 1999.