Damon Hill reckons his former title rival Michael Schumacher would have no problem making a Formula 1 comeback if the German commits to his rumored return with Mercedes.
Hill and Schumacher had fierce fights for the 1994 and 1995 World Championships – both of which were won by Schumacher – before Hill took the 1996 crown as his rival switched from Benetton to the then uncompetitive Ferrari team.
Writing in a column for the Times newspaper, Hill pointed out that he still had been a race winner with Jordan when older than most of his rivals, so Schumacher's age should not be an issue.
"I honestly do not think it would be wrong for Michael Schumacher to come back," Hill wrote. "If I can win a race when I was 37 in a Jordan, then Michael can definitely win a race in a Ross Brawn car at 41.
"Ross has already won the championship, so it should be a competitive car to start with next year. And we are talking about Michael Schumacher and he is a bit of a robber's dog. He is exceptionally fit. He has never done anything else in his life – it's the only thing he has devoted himself to – and the fact that he has gone and raced motorbikes shows that he has still got the need for speed."
Hill also thinks Schumacher will feel he has a point to prove as it is believed his retirement in 2006 was prompted by Ferrari's desire to slot Kimi Raikkonen into the team as his longer-term successor.
"I don't think he retired in the way he wanted to in 2006," Hill continued. "I think he was pushed, rather than deciding to stop. It was a political thing and Ferrari was pushing him to make a decision. So it was slightly unsatisfactory and maybe there is unfinished business with him.
"The only problem I see is the neck injury he sustained bike racing this year and that stopped him from coming back to replace Felipe Massa in the summer. But if that has cleared up, I don't see why he's not fit enough and motivated enough to put in some more star performances.
"There are things that people do and they are risky, but somehow they are driven to do them. For example, Sir Ranulph Fiennes going up Everest in his mid-60s. They are pushing the limits of what people are doing and I think some people are built for that and Michael is one of those. If this is what Michael wants, he should go for it. He can do something he enjoys and show everyone that he is a nice guy underneath and he is a sportsman."
Although both the Schumacher camp and Mercedes have refused to confirm that they are in talks, neither party has completely ruled out the possibility of Schumacher returning to the grid in 2010.