Mugello, Monday: Times released from Michael Schumacher’s F1 test at Mugello indicate that an elderly Italian millionaire set faster times at the circuit than the seven-time world champion himself.

Beaten: Michael Schumacher at Mugello
Beaten: Michael Schumacher at Mugello

Schumacher was testing Ferrari’s 2007 car as part of the team’s F1 Clienti programme, which allows astoundingly rich people to buy old F1 cars and drive them at Ferrari-supervised testing locations. Under this scheme, the cars run on GP2-specification slick tyres and, although the times are not officially recorded, unofficial lap times leaked from Maranello provide a surprising picture.

Schumacher completed 67 laps of the Italian track with a best time of one minute, 23.736 seconds. However, Italian fashion baron Gianluigi Fandango, who was testing his own similar car on the same day, set a best lap time of one minute, 23.124 seconds, over six tenths faster than the German.

“We are surprised at these results,” a Ferrari insider, who chose to remain nameless, told our reporter. “The only explanation is either that Mr. Fandango is an untapped talent of incredible proportions, or that Michael isn’t quite the superstar he used to be.

“Since we are all absolutely certain that Schumacher hasn’t declined in ability at all, despite not having raced in F1 for nearly three years and being the wrong side of 40, as well as recovering from a fairly significant neck injury earlier this year,” the source continued, “It must be the former option.”

At 76, Fandango is unlikely to be granted an F1 superlicence even if his talents are sufficient to give him a chance of driving in Formula One. However, Scuderia Toro Rosso are reported to be losing patience with Spanish driver Jaime Alguersuari, who they claim isn’t performing “despite being given ample opportunity to prove himself.” Therefore it is expected that an opening for Fandango will exist should he wish to pursue his F1 dream further.