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Michael Schumacher: it's great to be back 03 Aug 2009

Michael Schumacher (GER) tests a Ferrari F2007 at Mugello, Italy. July 31, 2009. © Ferrari Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 11 July 2009

Michael Schumacher was back behind the wheel of a Formula One car on Friday, as he began on-track preparations for his planned comeback later this month. Schumacher is expected to stand in for the injured Felipe Massa in the European Grand Prix.

With the in-season test ban ruling out a run in this year’s F60, Schumacher used a privately-owned 2007 car to complete 67 laps of Ferrari’s Mugello circuit in Italy.

“It's a great thing getting back on the track,” said the German, “even if this was a car from 2007 from the F1 Clienti department with slicks usually used in GP2 and obviously there is no real point of reference.

"After a couple of laps I was able to drive constant lap times and I'm happy with the performance. Now we've got to see how my body and the muscles respond in the next days.”

Schumacher will now continue with a special programme of training designed to ensure he is fit enough to compete at Valencia on August 23. Ferrari have also asked their fellow teams for special permission to allow the seven-time world champion to test the F60 ahead of the Spanish race.

Following his Mugello outing, Schumacher travelled to Budapest on Saturday to visit Massa. The Brazilian, who sustained a fractured skull after being hit by a spring from another car in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, left the AEK military hospital on Monday to travel home to Sao Paulo.