ROME - Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has admitted he is amazed by former seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher's proposed Formula One return and said he blames himself.
The 41-year-old Schumacher, a consultant for Ferrari, is on the brink of a sensational return to racing with Mercedes-Benz, despite retiring at the end of the 2006 season.
And Di Montezemolo claimed he was distraught to be losing Schumacher as a consultant following a working relationship that started back in 1996 when the German joined the Italian constructor from Benetton.
But he said it was his fault for suggesting to Schumacher that he stand in for the injured Felipe Massa after the Brazilian's horrific crash at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July.
"It was me that rekindled his desire to race after Massa was injured in Hungary," said the Ferrari chief.
"He thought about it for 10 minutes and then accepted and went to do some laps of Mugello (a track near Florence).
"On August 9 he called me from a German clinic and for the first time I could hear that he was really in pain.
"He told me that the fracture in his neck, caused by a motorbike accident, had not healed and that he wouldn't be able to do it."
Di Montezemolo said that he would have liked to see Schumacher back in a Ferrari but with Massa and Fernando Alonso already on their books for next season he simply could not offer the German a drive.
"I spoke to him (on Thursday) and he told me that he thinks his twin will come back.
"Now this desire to race again has transferred to his (evil) twin (the one who wants to race for a different team)," added the Ferrari boss.
"But we can't offer that twin anything because we already have two excellent drivers, the best.
"So we have to say good luck and good work, without for one moment forgetting what he did for us or what we did for him.
"On the one hand I understand his wish, the pressure from Mercedes. But on the other I'm amazed and it will be really strange to see him in another car.
"However, I'm sure he'll do well even if from 35 to 41 there's a difference. I think his performances will be very close to those of his (good) twin (the Ferrari driver)."
However, despite his best wishes there was a touch of bitterness in Di Montezemolo.
"The real Schumacher renewed his consultancy contract with us at Monza and said he had married Ferrari for life and that Ferrari was his family. Well I never!"