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Schumacher begins preparing for F1 return 31 Jul 2009

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 4 April 2009 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari F2008 running with slick tyres and down force levels similar to 2009 regulations. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, 16 April 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton

Michael Schumacher has begun readying himself for his expected return to Formula One racing at next month’s European Grand Prix. Assuming Ferrari are happy with his fitness levels, Schumacher will replace the injured Felipe Massa at the Valencia race.

The seven-time world champion travelled to Ferrari’s Maranello headquarters in Italy on Thursday to familiarize himself with the functionality of the F60’steering wheel, using the team’s static simulator, and to discuss preparations with engineers.

Although the ban on Formula One testing means Schumacher will be unable to drive the F60 before the practice sessions in Spain, the German is planning to get in plenty of mileage using an older car provided by Ferrari’s F1 customer department, and on Friday morning he completed several laps of the Mugello circuit in an F2007 machine.

“I contacted some of the guys from F1 Clienti if they could give me a car,” Schumacher told his official website. “Although those cars are not current or last year's ones, I simply like to drive as much as possible, so this is a good option.”

Schumacher, who retired at the end of 2006, has remained with Ferrari in a consulting role and last tested a Formula One car in April 2008, prior to the return of slick tyres and the introduction of KERS and moveable front wings.