Michael Schumacher’s surprise return to F1 raises a lot of questions.
But the most telling one is this: why would the world’s most successful F1 driver risk his mammoth achievements on a comeback to a sport that has changed much in the three years since he left?
By the time the 2010 F1 season starts Schumacher will have passed his 41st birthday – old enough to be the father of several of his rivals.
Although the neck injury which kept him from returning this year has healed, will it be up to F1’s intense 19-race schedule for 2010?
He’s been away from F1 for three years so inevitably he’ll be out of practice compared to his rivals. Since he left F1 has adopted slick tyres (which he last used in 1997), severely reduced the downforce of the cars and, as of next year, banned refuelling. Four of the tracks will also be new to him.
Schumacher is staking an F1 career of unrivalled success – 40 more race wins and two more world championships than anyone else – on a return which could prove an embarrassing final chapter to his career.
Fellow multiple world champions like Jackie Stewart and Alain Prost left on a high as reigning title winners at the peak of their powers. Fernando Alonso denied Schumacher the opportunity to do that in 2006.
At worst, he could find himself in an uncompetitive car or discovering he hasn’t got the motivation to get the job done.
On the positive side, Schumacher will be re-creating his ultra-successful partnership with Ross Brawn – albeit at Mercedes instead of Ferrari. The team began development of their 2010 car early, so there’s every chance he will have a car which allows the winning machine to pick up where it left off.
Even in the latter stages of his career it rarely looked as though he had lost any of his skill. There were a few wobbles towards the end of 2004, which could be attributed to him having switched off after wrapping up the title with four races to spare. But his final race at Interlagos left us in no doubt he exited the sport at the top of his game.
Schumacher’s surprise return is a fantastic development for the sport. It’s hard not to be excited by the prospect of Schumacher in a Mercedes going up against Britain’s champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in McLarens and Alonso in a Ferrari.
But is this the right move for Michael Schumacher? Cast your vote above and leave a comment below.
Schumacher and Mercedes
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- Mercedes Grand Prix take over Brawn for 2010
- Michael Schumacher F1 career statistics
- Michael Schumacher’s F1 career in pictures
- Michael Schumacher biography
- 2010 F1 drivers and teams
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