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November 22, 2009

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Mercedes plays down Schumi rumors

MERCEDES has played down, without completely dismissing, media speculation that seven-time Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher could come out of retirement as Jenson Button's replacement.

"It's clear that there will always be speculation as long as one cockpit is still free," said a spokesman for the German carmaker, which has taken over world champion Brawn GP, yesterday.

"And some speculations are nothing but dreams which will not come true."

Britain's newly crowned world champion Button has signed for McLaren where he will have the No. 1 on his car as teammate to 2008 champion and compatriot Lewis Hamilton next season.

Brawn, which will compete as Mercedes in 2010, has yet to name its driver line-up although Germany's Nico Rosberg is sure to be one of them.

Former F1 team owner turned television pundit Eddie Jordan stoked the speculation when he told BBC radio that he was sure Schumacher, who will be 41 in January, was in the frame to replace Button.

"The possibility is being actively pursued and I believe it is going to happen," said the Irishman, who gave Schumacher his Formula One debut in 1991.

"It started with a meeting between Michael, Ross Brawn and Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix," he added.

"At the moment, it is not possible for Michael to drive for Mercedes because he has a consultancy contract with Ferrari. But I understand he was due to meet Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo with a view to being released.

"I also believe Ross and Michael have spoken in recent times and that Michael likes the idea of driving a Mercedes run by Ross. It's a mouth-watering idea," Jordan said.

Brawn guided Schumacher to all his seven titles as technical director and master strategist at Benetton and then with Ferrari. Schumacher also drove for the Mercedes sportscar team before breaking into Formula One.

Schumacher was willing to make a temporary comeback this year after Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa suffered serious head injuries but the German had to abandon that plan due to his own neck injury.

That injury, sustained while racing a motorcycle, should be far less of a problem by the time the next Formula One season starts in March.


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