In the absence of a clear denial or an official announcement, speculation that Michael Schumacher is planning to return to F1 next year with Mercedes GP continues to grow.

The 40-year-old seven time world champion's father Rolf told the Cologne newspaper Express: "Michael is training every day like crazy. He's not doing that for nothing."

Bild newspaper reports that Schumacher gave his old neck-training machine to Nico Hulkenberg, because he has bought a brand new one.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone recently played down the suggestions about a comeback for the former Ferrari driver, but is now having seconds thoughts.

"I would personally doubt that he's going to make a comeback but, having said that, it's maybe getting a bit stronger than a rumour," the Briton told the Times.

It is believed that if Schumacher ultimately turns down the seat alongside Nico Rosberg, Mercedes has its former junior driver Nick Heidfeld next in queue.

"Well you'd have to pick Michael wouldn't you?" said Ecclestone, when told that Heidfeld and Schumacher are the contenders.

"If I was Michael I wouldn't do it, but I'm sure he knows he could get the job done," the 79-year-old added.

Schumacher's manager Willi Weber is set to meet with his famous client in Stuttgart on Monday, but he denies the location for the meeting has anything to do with the proximity of the Mercedes/Daimler headquarters.

"We are having a personal meeting, just as do we many times a year," he told the German news agency SID. "Norbert Haug and Mercedes are not on the agenda."

Mercedes' competition boss Haug also played down the circulating reports about a meeting between Schumacher, team boss Ross Brawn and Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche in Abu Dhabi last month.

"There were no discussions on this subject in Abu Dhabi," he told Auto Bild.


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