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Luke Howard

Luke Howard joined The Independent in September 2000 working on the news desk before moving to the online team in 2003. Obsessed with all things Formula One from an early age, he now takes an unconventional look at the pinnacle of motor racing in a Lewis Hamilton-centric world.

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Watch out Kimi - The Red Baron is back on track

Posted by Luke Howard
  • Friday, 31 July 2009 at 02:07 pm

For Formula One fans Michael Schumacher’s surprise return to the track – replacing the injured Felipe Massa at Ferrari - throws up lots of interesting questions and promises to make the European Grand Prix at Valencia – one of last season’s dullest races – the most exciting race of 2009.

A mouth-watering prospect if you’re an F1 fan (I’m salivating as I write), but it’s not good news for everybody.

Lewis Hamilton will be relishing the chance to take on the legend, but Kimi Raikkonen, for one, must need the great man’s return like a hole in one of his Bridgestone tyres.

He’s in the other Ferrari having taken over Schumacher’s drive, and not insubstantial paycheck, when he arrived to lead the team after the German’s retirement at the end of 2006. But now the master is back, and Kimi cannot allow him to have the upper hand without questions being asked about his position in the team.

Despite a second place finish in Hungary last time out, the Finn’s performances have, at times, been more Sunday driver than Silverstone, leading to questions regarding his commitment to the sports most famous team.

The BBC’s hot-headed pundit, Eddie Jordan (the self-styled Simon Cowell of F1), even insisted Kimi should have been sacked earlier in the season. A not uncommon over-reaction from the former team owner, despite the Finn being spotted casually enjoying an ice cream during the Malaysian Grand Prix, while his mechanics frantically attempted to repair his car.

However, the question of commitment could resurface if the now 40-year old Schumacher leads the Ferrari challenge at a circuit and in a car that he’s never driven.

The four week summer break between Grands Prix will seem like a lifetime as fans wait for Schumacher to get back behind the wheel, but it will also give the seven-time World Champion a chance to prepare as thoroughly as possible (and this is a man who doesn’t do things by halves).

Kimi be warned. The Red Baron is on his way back and he’s not used to playing second fiddle to a team-mate. Just ask Martin Brundle, Jos Verstappen, Johnny Herbert, Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barrichello.

 

 

 

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