Nov 14, 2013, 10:45 AM EDT
Michael Schumacher turned down Lotus’ offer of a two-race stint with the team as a replacement for the injured Kimi Raikkonen at Austin and Interlagos, it has been confirmed.
Schumacher – who is statistically the greatest driver in the history of Formula One – enjoyed his heyday in the early 2000s with Ferrari, with whom he won five of his seven world championships. After retiring at the end of 2006, the German driver returned to the sport with Mercedes in 2010. However, during his three seasons with the German marque, he claimed just one podium finish and lacked the spark he used to possess, and retired for the second time at the end of last season.
However, it has transpired that Lotus – who were seeking a replacement for Raikkonen after the Finn opted to undergo back surgery – approached Schumacher about stepping in.
His manager explained to German publication Bild: “Michael would be fit enough yet, but he has settled in his new life.”
Therefore, Schumacher will not be adding to his haul of 91 grand prix victories in 2013, and it is unlikely that we will ever see him race in Formula One again.
Lotus confirmed earlier today that Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen will deputize for Raikkonen for the United States Grand Prix this weekend (live on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra from 1pm ET) and the season finale in Brazil next week.
The fact that Lotus did approach Schumacher clearly shows that they were not looking for a ‘quick fix’, and for the same reason they opted against promoting reserve driver Davide Valsecchi. Kovalainen – a one-time race winner – does appear to fit this mould, and the Finn will be keen on impressing during the last two races of the year.