World Champion Jenson Button reckons Michael Schumacher risks damaging his reputation if his mooted return to Formula 1 is not as successful as the rest of his record-breaking career.
Rumors that Schumacher will come out of retirement to drive for the new Mercedes works team created out of Button's former squad Brawn GP have refused to go away in recent weeks, with both Schumacher and Mercedes declining to deny that they are in talks. Yesterday German newspaper Bild reported that a contract would be signed imminently, ahead of an announcement next week.
Button admitted the excitement that would be generated by Schumacher's return would be a huge boost for F1, but he fears that if the seven-time champion's comeback is not a triumph, he could be remembered for that disappointment rather than his incredible previous achievements.
"Schumacher coming back to F1 is great news for the sport," Button told the UK's News of the World. "But I don't know if it will be great news for Michael Schumacher. He will be putting his reputation on the line coming back into the sport."
The Briton added that he had no concerns about going up against Schumacher again and would relish the opportunity. "I'll race against anybody," said Button. "I want to beat the best and he was one of the best."
The Schumacher comeback talk began after Button decided to leave Brawn in favor of defending his title alongside Lewis Hamilton at McLaren. Until that move, Mercedes had been expected to run Button and Nico Rosberg in the first season of its new project, with Kimi Raikkonen – who is now switching to rallying instead –slotting in at McLaren.