Williams thwart Schumacher test proposals

The Williams team has revealed its opposition to Ferrari’s request to allow Michael Schumacher a test day, a move that will surely hamper the German’s return to Grand Prix action.

Last week, Ferrari had asked all of the teams and the FIA to allow Schumacher to have one test day behind the wheel of their 2009 challenger.

Due to the current ban on in season testing, Schumacher had been forced to make his return to Formula One in a outdated car, testing a two-year-old F2007 around Ferrari’s test track in Mugello.

It had been hoped that special disposition would be granted to both Schumacher and Ferrari due to the circumstances surrounding the German’s return.

However in a statement, revealed by Autosport, Williams said that it could not accept Ferrari’s request because it contravenes with the regulations, which state testing is not allowed during the season.

“While we welcome Michael Schumacher back to Formula 1, the fact is that any form of in-season circuit testing is strictly prohibited; a regulation clearly laid out by the FIA and adhered to by all of the teams,” said team boss Frank Williams.

“It was for this reason that Alguersuari, who drove an F1 car for the very first time in Hungary, did not have the opportunity to familiarise himself with the Toro Rosso before he made his race debut.

“Williams sees no distinction between Alguersuari’s situation and Schumacher’s and feels that any deviation from the rule would create a precedent for the future.

“In a similar situation, Williams would unhesitatingly use its current test driver. For the sake of consistency and fairness, therefore, we oppose Ferrari’s proposal to test ahead of the European Grand Prix.”

Ferrari required the unanimous approval from all of the teams and the Governing Body before Schumacher would have been allowed to test.

Such a decision had looked ever more likely after Mercedes Boss, Norbert Haug, had said that would have been happy to allow Schumacher to test and could see no reasons to reject Ferrari’s request.

“Whatever we can do to support him we will do,” Haug told Autosport on Sunday. “I just think it is fair. This is an exception. If Michael had said he would come back under the condition that he could test, everybody would have said yes.

“His team-mate has thousands of kilometres in this car, and he has nothing. As we are fair players, why should he not get some testing? I would be very open to that.”

Meanwhile, Bernie Ecclestone has added fire to Schumacher’s return, suggesting that he would like to see the German’s comeback to be a permanent fixture.

In an interview with the German newspaper, Bild am Sonntag, Ecclestone gave his opinion on the German driver, who will substitute for the injured Felipe Massa at the European Grand Prix.

“I am sure they (Ferrari) would like to keep him there. I would be happy if Michael drives forever,” said the Formula One Chief Executive.

“I have often talked to him about coming back,” the 78-year-old added. “The fitness tests will not be a problem. And if Michael drives, he is fast.”