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Schumacher absent at Monza... and more?

AS we suggested last week, it has emerged that Michael Schumacher is not fit enough to race at the Italian Grand Prix and he may also miss the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on September 26. The Ferrari driver turned up to test for the team at Monza last week but completed only 27 laps before announcing that he was not ready to race.

"There were problems in my leg," Schumacher told pressmen at Monza "and they too big to do a proper job. Basically, it is impossible to drive properly at the moment. The bumps of the circuit are pretty severe. I have been in pain all the way through and you cannot drive like that. I took painkillers but it did not really help."

Schumacher confirmed that after his crash at Silverstone the doctors told him that he would not be able to race for 12 to 16 weeks. He tried after just six weeks with a day of testing at Mugello and this seems to have caused him further problems. "Maybe you can say it was too early, but we had to try," he said. "We must just take more time."

Schumacher underlined that he still feels lucky that he was not more seriously hurt in the Silverstone crash. "Ten years ago I would have gone up to Saint Peter and knocked on his door," said Michael. "And now here I am."

Although he has not officially withdrawn from the European GP, Schumacher did say that he did not think he would compete "in the next two races". This will mean he will return to action at the Malaysian GP on October 17 - which is 13 weeks after the accident. Just what the doctored ordered...

The news is a bonus for Mika Salo who will now get another couple of chances to show his skills as Irvine's team mate.