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Formula One intrigue increases with Michael Schumacher's return

Months of anticipation and speculation will end Sunday when the Formula One season begins and Michael Schumacher marks his return to racing at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

At 41, the seven-time F1 champion comes out of three years of retirement to race for the newly formed Mercedes GP, which bought out last year's constructors' champion Brawn GP.

Schumacher said he felt like "a child at Christmas" coming to Bahrain, where he lines up against defending champ Jenson Button, two-time champ Fernando Alonso, 2008 winner Lewis Hamilton and talented Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel. Button joins McLaren after stunning the experts with his title at Brawn.

"I love this fight," Schumacher said. "It is because of this fight that I came back to Formula One."

Alonso is the preseason favorites as the driver looks reinvigorated after his move to Italian giant Ferrari, which also welcomes Felipe Massa back for the first time since he had life-threatening injuries in a crash at the Hungarian GP in July.

"It's a very important moment for us after a horrible year. It was also a difficult moment for me with the accident," Massa said. "I'm concentrated, I'm ready 100 percent."

Schumacher's experience could pay dividends as refueling has been banned, so teams can only pit to change tires. Also, the top-10 qualifiers can't swap tires before the start of the race.

The American team, USF1, won't be ready this season, autosport.com reported last week, due to financial turmoil. The team, based in Charlotte, N.C., has released all of its personnel.

FAST FACTS

Driver lineup

No. Name Team Country

1 Jenson Button McLaren England

2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren England

3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes Germany

4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Germany

5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Germany

6 Mark Webber Red Bull Australia

7 Felipe Massa Ferrari Brazil

8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Spain

9 Rubens Barrichello Williams Brazil

10 Nico Hulkenberg Williams Germany

11 Robert Kubica Renault Poland

12 Vitaly Petrov Renault Russia

14 Adrian Sutil Force India Germany

15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India Italy

16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso Switzerland

17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso Spain

18 Jarno Trulli Lotus Italy

19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus Finland

20 Karun Chandhok HRT India

21 Bruno Senna HRT Brazil

22 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber Spain

23 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber Japan

24 Timo Glock Virgin Germany

25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin Brazil

Schedule

Date Site Time TV

Sunday Sakhir, Bahrain 8 a.m. Speed

March 28 Melbourne, Australia 2 a.m. Speed

April 4 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 4 a.m. Speed

April 18 Shanghai, China 3 a.m. Speed

May 9 Barcelona, Spain 8 a.m. Speed

May 16 Monte Carlo, Monaco 8 a.m. Speed

May 30 Istanbul, Turkey 8 a.m. Speed

June 13 Montreal Noon Ch. 13

June 27 Valencia, Spain 8 a.m. Ch. 13

July 11 Silverstone, England 8 a.m. Ch. 13

July 25 Hockenheim, Germany 8 a.m. Ch. 13

Aug. 1 Budapest, Hungary 8 a.m. Speed

Aug. 29 Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium 8 a.m. Speed

Sept. 12 Monza, Italy 8 a.m. Speed

Sept. 26 Singapore 8 a.m. Speed

Oct. 10 Suzuka, Japan 2 a.m. Speed

Oct. 24 Yeongam County, South Korea 2 a.m. Speed

Nov. 7 Sao Paulo, Brazil 11 a.m. Speed

Nov. 14 Abu Dhabi, UAE 8 a.m. Speed

Formula One intrigue increases with Michael Schumacher's return 03/12/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 12, 2010 11:23pm]
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