Date: 9th August 2012 at 9:26am
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Will seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher extend his second spell in F1 when his contract ends at the turn of the year?

The German driver, who is the most successful driver of all time, has arguably not been the same since his return to the sport with Mercedes in 2010 after three years of retirement.

The recent European Grand Prix was the first time he had stood on the podium since China in October 2006, but apart from that one high point and a glint of his previous brilliance during qualifying in Monaco, Schumacher has failed to impress alongside team-mate Nico Rosberg.

The Belgian Grand Prix in September will be the 50th Grand Prix that the two have raced together with the Mercedes team, but during the 49 previous races, Schumacher has only bettered Rosberg on 16 occasions.

That point is highlighted further when comparing Schumacher’s total points tally of 177 points since 2010, with Rosberg earning 308 points.

However Schumacher offers more to Mercedes than just race results and his experience and expertise alongside Ross Brawn, cannot be underestimated as the team continues to develop since their return to the sport as their own race team.

So will Schumacher continue beyond 2012?

‘I think this is a very important decision for all the people involved,’ Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn told formula1.com.

‘We won’t be rushed on the decision and when the time is appropriate we will announce what we are going to do. I don’t want to increase speculation by commenting on where we are.’

Speculation has already been rife amongst the Formula One media. While Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber have always been unlikely links, but Force India driver Paul di Resta is an interesting prospect.

Paul di Resta does of course have a history with Mercedes, he drove for them for four years in Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters [DTM, German Touring car series], winning 6 races and taking the 2010 title, while he reportedly made the move into Formula One with help from Mercedes as they supply Force India with their F1 engines.

Mercedes CEO Nick Fry also spoke very highly of the Scottish driver in May when discussing possible replacements for Schumacher.

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