Schumacher takes old car for spin

ROME -- Michael Schumacher was back in the cockpit of a Formula One car on Friday -- and it felt good.

The seven-time F1 champion borrowed an old Ferrari to test his form ahead of a comeback to F1 as the substitute driver for the injured Felipe Massa.

"A great feeling to be back in an F1 car," Schumacher said after testing it on the Mugello circuit. "After a few laps, I was able to drive constant times and I am quite happy with the time I did."

The 40-year-old German organized the test to check his physical condition and drove a privately owned Ferrari model used in the 2007 season, company spokesman Luca Colajanni said.

Schumacher could not drive the current Ferrari car due to F1's ban on in-season testing.

"Although those cars are not current or last year's ones, I simply like to drive as much as possible, so this is a good option," he wrote on his Web site. "Now, we will have to see how my body and my muscles will react to that day in the next days."

He said that on Thursday he had been at Ferrari's headquarters in Maranello to run tests in a simulator.

Schumacher, who retired in 2006, was back behind the wheel just two days after Ferrari announced Schumacher, a seven-time F1 champion, would replace Massa until his return, starting with the European Grand Prix on Aug. 23, in Valencia, Spain.

Massa, 28, underwent surgery on multiple skull fractures after he was hit in the helmet by a loose part from another car and crashed into a protective tire barrier during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix last Saturday.

Massa is expected to return home to Brazil on Monday to continue his recovery.