Three-time World Champion Niki Lauda reckons there is no chance whatsoever that Michael Schumacher will make his rumored comeback with Mercedes GP.
Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug has declined to dismiss the speculation that his team wants Schumacher as Nico Rosberg's teammate in 2010. The seven-time World Champion had intended to make a comeback with Ferrari last summer to fill in for the sidelined Felipe Massa, but a lingering neck injury from a motorcycle accident canceled that plan.
Lauda, who returned to Formula 1 himself two and a half years after his initial retirement from the sport, said he understood why Schumacher had been interested in the Ferrari chance, but cannot envisage him wanting to make a full-time comeback.
"I don't believe that there is one single grain of truth in [the rumors], at least from all the signals that I get," Lauda told the official Formula 1 website. "There was a window of opportunity after Felipe's accident and, had Michael been fit, he would have taken up that chance to race for three or four races – to prove himself, get the adrenaline rush, and see where he stood in the pecking order. But I cannot believe that he would be up for a full season. Why then he did stop racing in the first place? But that is my personal opinion."
With McLaren having signed World Champion Jenson Button, Lauda thinks Mercedes is short of good options for its second car. Nick Heidfeld is the current favorite for the drive.
"With the Button departure, Rosberg is at the moment their only driver – a good man for sure, but good men get even better with a teammate who gives them a hard time 24 hours a day," he said. "That is positive, performance- and development-wise. They have to be very careful now in their selection, trying to get a top man for the second cockpit.
"Ferrari's pairing of [Fernando] Alonso and Massa, and McLaren with its two British champions will be very, very competitive. We have also seen how [Sebastian] Vettel and [Mark] Webber egg each other on to top performances, so the 'Silver Arrows' will be confronted by competitors with top driver lineups. In my opinion, all the top drivers are already signed."