Jan.5 (GMM) Gerhard Berger has played down the significance of many Ferrari supporters’ denouncement of Michael Schumacher as a “traitor”.
With the famous Maranello based marque’s champion of 2000-2004 returning to the F1 grid this year with Mercedes, the 41-year-old recently sent an open letter to the Italian press following local criticism of his defection.
“They (the Tifosi) talk like that now, because they don’t have to look him in the eye,” Berger, who drove for Ferrari in the late 80s and again in the mid 90s, said in an interview with Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
Still referring to Ferrari’s ardent supporters, the 50-year-old Austrian added: “When he (Schumacher) stands before them, they will fall to their knees and worship him.”
Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali agrees that the reaction of the Tifosi is just a passing phase.
“The (2010) Italian grand prix is far away,” he told La Stampa newspaper. “I’m sure that Ferrari fans will be grateful. History cannot be erased.”
Piero Ferrari, a team shareholder and director and the only living son of founder Enzo Ferrari, insists Schumacher’s return with Mercedes is the result only of his desire to race again.
“He wanted to race and the conditions weren’t there for him to do it once again with Ferrari,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Ferrari, 65, also said the Italian marque did not consider moving aside Fernando Alonso or Felipe Massa to accommodate Schumacher’s desire to return.
“I don’t believe in sports comebacks, like coaches or footballers going back to the team they were with before. Life goes on,” he insisted.