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Schumacher slimming down for comeback
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Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher says he is slimming down for his Formula One comeback and that the only problem is a little pain in his neck.

Schumacher, 40, retired at the end of the 2006 season but has agreed to return to his old team Ferrari temporarily while Felipe Massa recovers from injuries he suffered in a life-threatening crash during qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix ten days ago.

Schumacher's first race is expected to be the European Grand Prix in Valencia on Aug 23. He has made his comeback contingent on passing a medical checkup.

"I already lost three kilograms even if it is also important to me to build up muscles. So all in all, the practice works pretty well," Schumacher said.

"I only have to admit that my neck pinches a bit. We have to get a grip on that as health has priority - that's the clear arrangement made with Ferrari and, by the way, with my wife, too," Schumacher wrote on his Website on Tuesday.

Schumacher had a motorcycle crash in February in which he suffered a neck injury.

Schumacher slimming down for comeback

Neck injuries are particularly problematic for F1 drivers because of the enormous strain on their necks because of the high G-forces they must endure during high-speed cornering. But despite his neck problem, Schumacher declared he was keen to get back on the track.

"It's on! I accepted the challenge. And as you all know, I really love challenges. It seems as if my fans would love them, too," the German driver said.

"I really would like to thank all my fans who keep their fingers crossed for my plans and for all the positive feedback. It's incredible how much support I get from all over the world," Schumacher said.

Ferrari blast other teams

Ferrari vented their frustration at rivals Williams and Red Bull on Tuesday after the teams said they were opposed to Schumacher testing injured Brazilian Felipe Massa's F60 car.

Formula One regulations do not allow track testing during the season, although Ferrari had hoped other teams would allow an exception after Massa fractured his skull in an accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix last month.

"Guess who opposed the test with the F60?" read a statement on Ferrari's website (www.ferrari.com).

"A team that hasn't won anything for years and yet didn't pass over the opportunity to demonstrate once more a lack of spirit of fair play."

Williams last won the constructors championship in 1997 when Canada's Jacques Villeneuve topped the driver's standings for them too.

Ferrari also hit back at Williams' and Red Bull's argument that Schumacher should be treated no differently than Spanish teenager Jaime Alguersuari, who was unable to track test his car before his F1 debut for Toro Rosso in Hungary.

"Just for the record, the Scuderia Ferrari had given its approval to let Alguersuari test, but it seems even in this instance someone decided to stick to the precise wording of the regulations," the statement said.

(AP/AFP via China Daily August 6, 2009)

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