London: Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher has cancelled his plans to return to Formula One because of fitness concerns, the German driver said on Tuesday.
“I really tried everything to make that temporary comeback possible, however, much to my regret it didn’t work out,” he said in a statement on his website www.michael-schumacher.de.
“Unfortunately we did not manage to get a grip on the pain in the neck which occurred after the private F1-day in Mugello, even if medically or therapeutically we tried everything possible.”
The 40 year old had been expected to drive for Ferrari at the European Grand Prix at Valencia on 23 August with Felipe Massa recovering from a fractured skull.
Schumacher hurt his neck in a motorcycle accident on a racetrack earlier in the year and had admitted he was still struggling with the injury.
“The consequences of the injuries caused by the bike accident in February, fractures in the area of head and neck, unfortunately have turned out to be still too severe,” said Schumacher.
“That is why my neck cannot stand the extreme stresses caused by Formula 1 yet. These are the clear results of the examinations we did on the course of the past two weeks and the final examination yesterday afternoon.”
His surprise return to Formula One after retiring at the end of 2006 was seen as a major boost to the sport, which in recent months had been plagued by negative news headlines.
“I am disappointed to the core,” Schumacher added. “I am awfully sorry for the guys of Ferrari and for all the fans which crossed fingers for me. I can only repeat that I tried everything that was within my power. All I can do now is to keep my fingers crossed for the whole team for the coming races.”
Italy’s ANSA news agency reported that official reserve Luca Badoer would now drive for Ferrari in Valencia.
The 38-year-old Italian started 49 races for Scuderia Italia, Minardi and Forti without scoring a point between 1993 and 1999.