'Schumacher to make F1 return!' shouted the evening headlines on the internet. But which Schumacher, one wondered: Ralf or Michael?
Felipe Massa, it seems, is well on the road to recovery, and that is indeed heartening because Felipe is a pleasant, humble and talented driver. One hopes he will return and have another shot at the championship. It is, however, Massa's former team-mate, der wonderkind himself, who will be driving the number 3 Ferrari at Valencia in three weeks' time. This in itself is something of a mathematical miracle, for only yesterday Schumacher's manager, Willi Weber, pronounced himself "200 per cent sure" that Michael would not be returning.
Once Michael's name was mentioned as Massa's replacement, however, it seemed almost inevitable that he would snatch the opportunity. The returning hero, stepping in to replace a fallen comrade, has been a popular motif in recent Formula 1 history. Mario Andretti famously returned for Ferrari when Pironi was seriously injured in 1982, and immediately stuck his car on pole position at Monza. Twelve years later, Nigel Mansell returned for Williams-Renault after Senna was killed, and almost stuck his car on pole position at Magny Cours.
On that occasion, of course, when the lights turned green, Michael Schumacher's Benetton speared straight between the two Williamses ahead of him on the grid, almost as if his car, and his car alone that day, was equipped with launch control.
And such is the chequered reputation of the Schumacher brand in Formula 1. One fears for Michael when the championship reaches Singapore; there are, after all, a number of rather tight corners, and one hopes that Michael won't make an inadvertent mistake and accidentally block the track again, as he did in the final minutes of qualifying at Monaco in 2006, after setting the fastest lap.
The prospect, nevertheless, is salivating. Kimi will need to wake up, there's a classic championship battle of wits unfolding between Adrian Newey and Ross Brawn, and there will, one feels, be fireworks between Hamilton and Schumacher...