13 drivers linked with injured Massa's seat
(GMM) After a confusing day of speculation on Tuesday, Ferrari once again admitted it is in fact possible Michael Schumacher could be drafted in to replace the injured Felipe Massa.
Earlier, Schumacher's spokeswoman Sabine Kehm and his manager Willi Weber made conflicting comments about whether the 40-year-old German is set to come out of retirement to substitute for his friend and former teammate.
But Ferrari's head of media Luca Colajanni insists the team's five-time championship winning driver could return after talks with Schumacher are staged.
"We have said before that it is possible that Michael Schumacher could return to help us out," Colajanni said.
It is suggested that the silence from Schumacher himself is because he does not want to make any declarations until Massa personally indicates a preference about his substitute.
It emerges that the comments carried by the German weekly Bunte on Tuesday, quoting Schumacher as saying his "decision (to retire in 2006) stands", actually date back two weeks.
Schumacher aside, the drivers so far speculatively linked with the temporarily vacant Ferrari seat could almost fill a bus.
Names already mentioned have been Ferrari testers Marc Gene and Luca Badoer, as well as Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Bourdais, Nelson Piquet, Nico Hulkenberg and Jacques Villeneuve.
Force India's entire 2009 lineup comprising Giancarlo Fisichella, Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi are also rumored, and given BMW's expected withdrawal from F1, so too is the Pole Robert Kubica.
Italy's La Stampa newspaper insists David Coulthard cannot be ruled out.
Former German F1 driver Hans-Joachim Stuck thinks ousted Toro Rosso driver Bourdais might be a worthy option, given the lack of in-season testing in 2009.
"Bourdais is completely up to date, and by the way just like Massa he is managed by Nicolas Todt. After his nearly two years with Toro Rosso he knows the Ferrari engine and I personally think he is much better than what he could show at Toro Rosso," he said.
Toro Rosso's team boss Franz Tost, however, told Germany's Sport Bild that he thinks Alonso is the best choice. "The possibility was already being discussed in the paddock on Sunday evening," he said.
"Apart from the problems with existing contracts and sponsors it is surely the logical choice," Tost added.
A fascinating rumor is that Alonso's Renault contract may in fact be no obstacle, if the document (almost certainly) contains an exit clause mentioning team incompetence.
In the stewards' ruling last Sunday, it was stated specifically that Renault, banned from the forthcoming Valencia race, "failed to inform the driver of (the wheel) problem or to advise him to take appropriate action given the circumstances, even though the driver contacted the team by radio believing he had a puncture".