• Bahrain Grand Prix

Ecclestone welcomes prospect of 'heated up' Schumacher

ESPNF1 Staff
March 9, 2010 « McLaren prepares alternative rear wing | »
Bernie Ecclestone warned 'at least if Michael gets heated up, it will be good for the viewers and the sport' © Sutton Images

Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed suggestions Michael Schumacher will return to Formula One action with a win in Bahrain this weekend, casting doubts on the aspirations of both Mercedes and the former champion.

"There are a lot of drivers in with a chance this season," Ecclestone told the Times. "Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and I think Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull looks very good. He would be one of my strongest tips for the title. But, at the moment, we don't know what sort of car Michael has got and it seems he might not be at the front."

Ecclestone then went on to warn that were Schumacher to become trapped in traffic, all hell could break loose. "We all know what he is like when things don't go his way and he might run out of patience if he finds himself stuck in the middle. At least if Michael gets heated up, it will be good for the viewers and the sport … anything but politics."

Schumacher himself was more upbeat on his own website. "This is what I am here for, and I am confident we can play a role," he said. "If we win it at the end will be a different question, as always in sports. But our team is extremely motivated.

"We all want to win. The season will be long and hard but I love this fight. It is because of this fight that I came back to Formula One. I said it quite clear from the beginning that we do not have to - and probably will not - be in the position to win."

Former double world champion Emerson Fittipaldi sided with Ecclestone, at least as far as the early stages of the season are concerned.

"It will take [Schumacher] two or three races to get used to the traffic," Fittipaldi said. "You have to get back to not just driving fast but competing. If he has the motivation, he can compete. Michael will have great equipment."