Schumacher’s return: what’s changed?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Schumacher faces three new tracks, 13 new rivals and a load of new rules
Schumacher faces three new tracks, 13 new rivals and a load of new rules

October 22nd, 2006: Michael Schumacher makes his last F1 start.

There are 22 cars on the grid, each with traction control, grooved Bridgestone or Michelin tyres, and a fraction of the fuel needed to complete the race.

F1’s changed a lot since the last time Schumacher raced. How will he cope on his return?

The cars

Schumacher will have to use the same tyres as all his rivals
Schumacher will have to use the same tyres as all his rivals

Tyres

The tyre situation in F1 has changed massively in four years. Schumacher will know that getting to grips with these changes is vital if he’s going to be competitive.

In 2006 at Ferrari, Schumacher enjoyed the fruits of years of Bridgestone developing tyres specifically for their number one customer, while most of the other top teams used Michelins.

Now the tyre war has ended he will be deprived of that development avenue and have to use the same tyres as everybody else.

Grooved tyres are gone, too – Schumacher last raced on slicks in F1 in 1997. After his retirement restrictions on the quantity of tyres available for a Grand Prix weekend were introduced and they’ve been tightened even further for the coming season, with each driver getting just 11 sets of dry-weather tyres.

Engines

Engines are another area which are regulated much more tightly now than when Schumacher last raced in F1.

Development in this area was ‘frozen’ in 2008, leaving teams less scope to find more performance from their engines. Revs have been limited to 18,000rpm.

He will also have to get used to managing his engine allocation. Introduced last year, drivers may only use eight different engines during the season. With the calendar up from 17 races to 19 this year, that will most likely mean three engines which each have to do three race distances.

Ban on traction control

In 2006 F1 drivers still enjoyed the benefit of traction control. That was banned in F1 in 2008.

The good news for fans is that we’ll now get to see the most successful driver of all time manipulating the car’s throttle all on his own, without a computer cutting in to help him out.

And that’s exactly the way it should be.

Four-race gearboxes

As well as looking after his engine Schumacher will also have to worry about how much life is left in his gearbox.

Aerodynamics

Aerodynamic development was cut back in a big way last year. The cars now have lower, wider front wings and taller, narrower rear wings designed to make it easier for them to follow each other more closely.

Along their bodies there are far fewer downforce-boosting winglets and flip-ups.

How effective the rules have been in reducing total downforce – especially thanks to the controversial double-diffusers – is up for debate. But it certainly has changed the balance of the cars significantly.

On top of that, Schumacher now has an adjustable front wing to play with. Introduced last year, drivers are expected to rely on these more heavily in 2010 to tune the cars’ performance as their fuel load falls during a race.

Qualifying

No fuel burn, low fuel laps

Qualifying formats change every five minutes in F1, so it will come as no surprise to Schumacher to find another different system in place on his return.

The three-part system we have today was introduced during his last season. But back then drivers in Q3 had to qualify with their race fuel and a horrendously complicated ‘fuel credit’ system was used to decide how much fuel each driver should get.

Thankfully that nonsense was ditched a couple of years ago (along with the madness of the ‘fuel burn’ period in qualifying – remember that?). This year drivers will qualify on as little fuel as they can get away with, as they last did in 2002 and which Schumacher has plenty of experience of.

The rule requiring drivers who reach the top top having to start the race using the same tyres they qualified is new to everyone including Schumacher.

Race

Schumacher has two full seasons of refuelling-free F1 experience
Schumacher has two full seasons of refuelling-free F1 experience

Refuelling ban

Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello are the only two drivers on the grid to have raced in F1 before refuelling was reintroduced in 1994.

Schumacher and Ross Brawn mastered this new strategic dimension 16 years ago and won a lot of races because they sussed its nuances more quicker than rivals such as Williams. I’d be amazed if there’s any trick to the new, refuelling-free races they haven’t already worked out.

Spare cars

Schumacher excelled at using the spare car to accelerate the set-up process on a race weekend.

Not only that, but in mixed-weather races he enjoyed the advantage of having his race car and the spare car set-up for different conditions, so he could wait until the last minute to make a call on how the weather was going to before committing to a set-up.

That option won’t be open to him in 2010. Since 2008, teams have only been able to bring two complete cars to the races, plus sufficient spares to build a replacement. It’s one more way in which the difference between the haves and have-nots has been reduced since Schumacher’s last F1 campaign.

Read more: The new 2010 F1 rules: A quick guide

Championship

Testing restrictions

Here’s how much the new testing restrictions will affect Schumacher in 2010: Four years ago he completed 45 test days throughout the season. This year his team gets just 15, of which he has driven seven-and-a-half.

All his rivals face the same restrictions, of course. Schumacher won’t have any opportunity to drive the W01 outside of race weekends between now and the final race of the season, except for at promotional events and the odd straight-line aerodynamic test.

Points

The revised points system is new for Schumacher and everybody else.

Read more: Teams considering an even more generous points system for 2010

Tracks

Schumacher will start his first F1 night race at Singapore
Schumacher will start his first F1 night race at Singapore

There are three tracks on this year’s calendar which Schumacher will have to learn which his rivals already know. F1 has been to Valencia and Singapore twice in Schumacher’s absence – and as they are street tracks he won’t have any chance to drive them for real before their Grands Prix.

He hasn’t raced at Abu Dhabi either. As it hosts the season finale don’t be surprised to see him heading out there to get some laps in if he’s in the running for the championship come November. Failing that he’ll be logging more hours in the simulator.

Spa-Francorchamps has been tweaked since he last race there: Bus Stop has transmogrified into an ugly, clumsy, two-hairpin chicane. Catalunya has also been changed with the addition of an extra chicane which he’s already driven in testing.

The revised Bahrain and Silverstone layouts will be just as unfamiliar to him as they are to the rest of the grid. As will the all-new venue for the inaugural Korean Grand Prix in October.

View the 2010 F1 calendar

Rivals

Of the 23 drivers who will accompany Schumacher on the starting grid at Bahrain on Sunday, only ten were also on the grid for his last race in 2006.

Among the drivers he will face for the first time are Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Sutil and ten others.

View the 2010 F1 drivers and teams list

How will he do

Many of the rules changes we’ve seen over the last three seasons have worked to reduce the advantage a top team can get by spending their way there. The restrictions on tyres and testing in particular are a big part of the reason why we’ve seen the field get closer and closer together over the past few seasons.

I expect Schumacher won’t enjoy the kind of performance advantage at Mercedes that he had at Ferrari in 2002 and 2004.

And thanks to changes like the traction control and refuelling bans, I think we’ll get a better impression than ever before of what he does behind the wheel that sets him apart from the rest.

Which rules changes do you think Schumacher will struggle with? Which do you expect him to master easily? Have your say in the comments.

See all the articles in the F1 Fanatic 2010 Season Preview

2010 F1 season

121 comments on “Schumacher’s return: what’s changed?”

  1. I expect him to struggle with the strict rules. if he doesn’t tread on eggshells the race stewards will put him on the back of the grid for sneezing.

    1. Any rules in particular?

      1. I think he means the weaving across track, going off track to get an advantage, pushing other cars off track, hitting other cars to make sure they don’t overtake or are easier to overtake themselves.

        At least that’s what I thought about.

    2. Yeah I was thinking the same. The stunts that Schumacher pulled in his days would now surely get him penalized very often.

      1. If they get punished. We see some harsh punishments in F1 but not very much consistency.

        1. OK true. Thinking about it, they might very well punish the guy he runs into. Like when Massa ran into Bourdais and Bourdais got the penalty.

          1. Oh, how true.

          2. I agree, that incident was a sad one. But hopefully the FIA will keep up the good work of punishing cheaters that love cutting chicanes. Maybe Hamilton and Schumacher will have something to complain about together.

    3. Do you mean having the same rules for everybody (or maybe there will still be a ferrari bias, just not in his favour), or stricter testing & technical rules making it harder to get an advantage?

      1. I think they are referring to a perceived leniency Schumacher (and Ferrari) used to get.

        1. Ahh the bias argument again. I can see why it’s used even if I disagree; Schumi crashed to win (although Senna did the same and was worshipped) and personally I think the Monaco 06 punishment was a bit light but there were point changes just because people got so sick of the domination.

          1. Senna didn’t crsh to win. Senna held his line as he said he would. That’s not really the same as purposefully ramming into someone.

          2. Mouse_Nightshirt
            8th March 2010, 12:28

            He said he would crash into Prost, and duly did.

            The reason he is worshiped is because he died. He was an awesome driver. It effectively became martyrdom.

          3. What Senna did to Prost was outrageous, unethical, dangerous, frankly stupid, stubborn, unbelivable, magnificent and something that will be remembered for ever.

            An thats why I’m glad Toyota is out of the sport.

          4. lol love that Scribe :P

          5. “Senna didn’t crsh to win. Senna held his line as he said he would. That’s not really the same as purposefully ramming into someone.”

            I can’t help thinking that in the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix, he DID purposefully ram into someone, and that he DID win.

          6. Look at the video. He takes the inside line of a mild bend in the road and Prost cuts into him.

            Sure he did that deliberately, but it’s not “crashing into” Prost. He said upfront that he would keep that line and he did.

          7. Scribe, I think you missed out on a few words to describe Senna there :P

    4. I disagree with you F1silverarrows. Shumacher has been through many rule changes and was always noted as being the driver that new the rule book the best. I can remember other drivers commenting on how he new the rulebook front to back. If he is anything like he was before, I’ll bet you he knows more than the other guys. Keep this in mind – a lot of the rules are new for everyone!

    5. Rubel_Frm_BD
      10th March 2010, 9:04

      MS is a 7 times world champion so he does not fear strict rules. He can adopt any rules or situation that is given to him. But frm ur comment i think that ur dont like MS so just saying this 2 show ur anger. And about your eggshells…….. try something new he can do very better than this.

  2. Nice preview Keith!

    As you wrote, we can expect Schumacher/Brawn to be able to react very efficiently to the changes introduced (as shown in ’94 and last year by Brawn).

    I hope he does well and earn some respect he lost with a lot of fans with his antics and domination at ferrari.

  3. I severely doubt he will any troubles with the rule changes. He will be able to get the maximum out of the car and for me the competiveness of the mercedes will be the only think holding him back.

  4. I think it won’t be so good for him this year. I really think Ross Brawn just wants him to teach all the tricks to Rosberg, so he can be a mega champion soon. And I think Schumacher is only interested in racing, he won’t be as competitive and agressive as he used to; he has won everything already…

    1. I really think Ross Brawn just wants him to teach all the tricks to Rosberg, so he can be a mega champion soon.

      Interesting idea – like with Massa at Ferrari in 2006?

      Of course the problem then was Massa ended up costing Schumacher points like at Istanbul that year.

      1. I really think Ross Brawn just wants him to teach all the tricks to Rosberg, so he can be a mega champion soon

        Well, what role is Quick Nick going to play in that context then?

        1. He can make the tea

  5. I expect he’ll use things like the adjustable front wings to the full. His race engineer from the Brawn/Merc team says (in April’s Motor Sport) they’re adding extra controls to Schumacher’s steering wheel: there’s a setting he wants to adjust several times a lap, which Button would only change once during the whole weekend…

    And Lewis Hamilton will stop gushing about sharing the track with a legend once Schumacher’s chopped across him a couple of times.

    1. And Lewis Hamilton will stop gushing about sharing the track with a legend once Schumacher’s chopped across him a couple of times.

      I suspect so!

      1. Might be a tad off-topic here, but I hope McLaren pull off a CLEAN season this time, without any scandals, lies or embarrassing steward hearings. I really hope they cut all that out and restore some of the lost dignity.
        Also, hope Ferrari could just stop whining over being snatched off unfair advantages and just get on with the racing. (I’ve supported them forever, but the arrival of Force India (and Schuey’s adieu)saw a divide in my support and Ferrari’s recent statements and attitude is not helping their cause & shoving me even further away. And I’m sure I’m not the only one!)

        Schumacher sure has lost a lot of the advantages he used to enjoy but I doubt the 7 time WDC will have problems coping with new rules, given that he’s still in the same mental state as when he’d left. If he has the same commitment and desire, he could break a few drivers’ hearts!

        1. I should imagine McLaren will be aiming for a clean season. If there’s one thing they’ve taught us about cheating in the last few years, it’s that they’re not very good at it.

    2. Lets just hope, it is not to use something like the traction control in the Benneton at the time ;-)

  6. Can someone explain the Fuel Burn period to me, as many of the quali formats that one has escaped my memory…

    1. Basically, the teams started Q3 with their race fuel loads and could re-fill their tanks to that level after Q3. This meant they spent the first part of Q3 burning off fuel to get their cars as light as possible.

      Of all F1’s strange rules, that ranks as one of the most bizarre for me.

      1. Yes, that was really absurd, seeing these guys touring around in qualifying for 10 minutes, before getting a quick lap out.

        Glad they dumped that soon!

      2. Keith, I think they will run on fumes in Q3 and fill their tanks later for the race. That would explained the test-runs on fumes during the winter tests. The only constant I know during Q3 will be the tyres. Erm, are they allowed to change set-ups?

        1. We’re talking about the old Fuel Burn rules which haven’t been around for a couple of years.

        2. No, the cars are in “parc ferme” from the beginning of qualifying to the start of the race. I believe they can only adjust the front wings before the start.

          1. not sure about the front wing bit… remember interlagos 2009 when williams ran high downforce for the wet qualifying they had to keep that high downforce for the race?

          2. From the 2010 Sporting Regs

            http://argent.fia.com/web/fia-public.nsf/65EE8F15945D0941C12576C7005308AE/$FILE/1-2010%20SPORTING%20REGULATIONS%2010-02-2010.pdf

            34) POST QUALIFYING PARC FERMÉ
            34.1 Each car will be deemed to be in parc fermé from the time at which it leaves the pit lane for the first time during qualifying practice until the start of the race. Any car which fails to leave the pit lane during qualifying practice will be deemed to be in parc fermé at the end of Q1.
            Between these times, other than when cars are returned to the parc fermé overnight, the following work may be carried out :

            – the aerodynamic set up of the front wing may be adjusted using the existing parts. No parts may be added, removed or replaced

            The high downforce setup they had to keep was that of the rear wing to which no changes are allowed.

  7. Schumacher has an outstanding record and to have so many victories shows he can be flexible with whatever circumstances come his way. He’s also got vast experience which will stand him in good stead.
    The only problems I see would perhaps be getting used to the new tracks but that won’t be anything major and the cars particularly without TC as I thought Schumi was always in support of it.
    Maybe getting used to F1 life again will take some time but he looks in good shape so I think it may just be him getting back into the routine. I think he’ll be right at the top though as he’s clearly raring to race and he is one of the greatest-if not the greatest-racer ever. He’ll be fine

  8. If

    “With the calendar up from 17 races to 19 this year, that will most likely mean three engines which each have to do three race distances.”

    What’s he using for the other 10 races? Has he been reduced to pedal power? :-)

    1. No, the other five engines.

      1. I did assume that, just made me smile the way it was written – apologies for seeing humour in an excellent article (just as all of yours are Keith!)

        1. Ah, OK!

    2. the other 5 engines …

      Which only have to do 2 full race distances instead of the 3 needing to do 3 race distances. Get it now?

  9. The biggest problem Schumacher will struggle with is the flight of really powerful contenders. Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel – that’s the real opposition! And don’t forget about Button or Webber, even “brother” Felipe is strong enough to compete with Michael. What I want to say is that Michael will meet one of the strongest bands of rivals in his career – that’s the real CHANGE, I guess. Any of other changes are trifles. Schumacher’s career shows us that there’s no change he can’t adopt. You know, he’s a professional, and if he had decided to come back it meant he had felt completely ready for any problem.

    1. i agree!
      and we will be the ones who benefit from a great spectacle.

      1. This season is already doomed to be the first class show. :)

    2. agreed as well, back in the day it was schumi vs alonso, they were as fast as each other, now you have 5-6 drivers in that same category.

      1. We also have Kimi who may return next year! I heard he had another lucky day in Rally…

    3. Yes, I totally agree with you Sirko. Schumacher only had one rival in each of his championship years. Some of them were good and some very good but none were “Special ones”. When a Special one did come around in 2005 & 2006 Schumacher go his a*ce whipped!! Now I reckon we have 3 Special ones, not counting Schumie himself. I think I’ll have to take Friday off!!

      1. I think, Mika Hakkinen was “special one” too, wasn’t he? I heard Schumacher rated him as biggest rival ever.

        1. Just sussed that I may have used terms that may be too ‘flowery’. If I have offended anyone, I am sorry. andy

    4. I cant agree more with Sirko. Already the comment of the day.

      But there’s another change that Schumacher will have to cope this year, that is the political environment.

      He is not in Ferrari, which had an eternal honey moon with FIA until last year. In some terms, he is still a Todt protegee, but the FIA had changed too since Mosley left and — I hope — will not favored him anymore.

      1. Yeah, crows do not pick crow’s eyes usually :), but we will not know the answer to this question until it will have happened.

      2. Todt would still have a soft corner for Schumacher, Ferrari driver or not. Though I don’t think he will be taking any decisions on the outcome of races. If there is a controversy during the season, expect people to speculate about this relationship whichever way the decision goes.

    5. I agree with you Sirko, but the question to be answered is: is this the first time Schumacher will face qn opposition of 3 or 4 “Special Ones” in his career? Or rather are we misled into believing there are 3 or 4 “Special Ones” on the grid this year simply because neither of them is special enough to dominate the way Schumacher has between 1994 and 2004?
      In other words, maybe the likes of Raikonnen, Coulthard, Montoya, Barrichello and others would have also created this impression of 4 or 5 great drivers able to compete for a title, had M. Schumacher never existed. Not saying it’s the case, but at least a valid point of discussion…

      I believe his biggest challenge, more than the rule changes or the quality of the opposition, will be himself. After a 3 year pause, at 41 years old, will he still be able to summon his best conditionning, lucidity in the heat of the action, and motivation over the entire season if he slides out of title contention? I think those things will be his biggest enemy this season.

      1. Interesting question. To be special ones or not to be special ones. :) Well, I’m not sure about the likes of Montoya or Coulthard, but if you ask me about Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel, then my answer is yes, they are special ones. Facts are stubborn things. Fernando is the youngest double world champion. Lewis is the youngest world champion ever and he almost won the title in his first season. Sebastian is the youngest pole sitter and GP winner with that incredible win at Monza. And he is already a vice champion of the world. You know, it is the new generation of young racing brilliants with rare powerful talents and skills. Either of them is so different, not similar to each other, any of them has own charisma. You can say something similar about generation of racers like Senna, Prost, Mansell and Piquet. That’s what I want to say. So yes – they are “special ones” and we’ll be many times convinced of it. We have a fascinating future of Formula , I think.

        But if you not agree with me, well, in any case the “strong opposition” means that they are able to compete with Michael in terms of car’s performance. How many times in Michael’s career was an opposition of 3 or even 5 drivers able to compete with him? You know, it was always depending on car, and now we have four different teams and 8 different drivers with chances of winning.

        And yes, I agree, that Michael’s biggest rival will be himself, that’s no doubt. It’s was very brave decision, but you know, none but the brave deserve the fair, even Michael is as old as the hills. :)

        1. The baseline to messure the quallity is Alonso, he beat Schumacher in 05 &06. Then Hamilton was more than a match for him in his ‘rooky’ year. That made him special too. Vettle, I think is on a par with both. So now we have a messure of 4 Special drivers ie. Schumaker, Alonso, Hamilton and Vettle. Not since the days of Senna, Prost, Mansell and Piquet have we had this talent!

        2. Agreed. I am too young to remember the 80s (Vaguely remember sitting in front of the TV at age 3 and pointing at the yellow helmet saying he’s the bad guy, and then pointing at the white one and cheering… Influenced by my father :-).
          But now that you put it that way, I do have to agree we have one of the best lineups in recent history. I wouldn’t be surprized if we have more than half a dozen different race winners by the end of the season, similar to what we had in the early 1980s I think.

          The key this year is that the overall quality of drivers around is coupled with the fact that at least 4 teams seem to be equally strong this year, whereas in the 90s and 2000s it was often Schumacher vs. Williams, McLaren, nobody, then Renault; but never more than one at a time.

          I’m really excited about the season with at least 4 strong teams and 6 very strong, proven drivers (including 4 world champions!) And I especially agree that the conflicting styles and personalities of these great drivers is going to make it even better.

  10. I didn’t realise just how much has changed in F1 in the last three year until I read the list.

    Schumacher shouldn’t have any problems with the rule changes, I think he has the experience and adaptability to cope with them.

    I can’t remember where I read it but he said recently he liked the reduced testing as it meant he could be at home more.

  11. This is slightly off topic, but I just thought of a scenario when I read about the tyre rule again…

    What if for instance Schumacher has set a time in Q3 already, and its ok but not great, say 5th. He comes in, puts on his last set of rubber, goes out for one final blast at getting pole. He’s coming to the final few corners and is all purple on the timing screen. The crowd are on their feet and praying he gets pole when…

    He locks up and massively flatspots his front tyres, can he still make pole? Knowing he has an ok time to fall back on and not wanting to run the first stint on flat spotted tyres… he simply comes back to the pits.

    Call me pessimistic, but is this not a horribly realistic scenario this year? I really hope this doesnt happen, but it would highlight just how stupid this tyre rule is (yes im still annoyed about it, can you tell!)

    1. Well he could just finish it and then get the FIA to have him use another set of the same tyres.
      According to the rules, there is a possibility to convince them, even though the tyres should have really bad flatspots or even a puncture to be allowed another set.
      Interesting thought though, we might see some of that breaking of fast runs this year.

    2. I think it’s the type of tyre that have to be exactly the same between the Q3 tyres and the tyres for start of the race.

      1. No, the rules state, that they have to use the actual set of tyres used to set their qualification time on.

        1. I think there is a clause in the rule thats states tyres may be changed if they are damaged enough that the fia considers them to be unsafe… perhaps you could do a few ‘accidental’ doughnuts after a quali run.

          1. maybe shumi has a “puncture” button on his steering wheel ;)

          2. This will be the source of a few controversies during the season where the stewards will be accused of favoritism.

  12. Personally I hope he gets ass handed to him .As I am sick of hearing about him there are another 23 drivers you know . Also F1 on the BBC is going to be the Schumacher show this year.

    1. I don’t think coverage of the build-up to the new season on here has been excessively Schumacher-centric. Do you?

      And I wouldn’t pre-judge the BBC. This time last year everyone was saying they’d be even more partisan than ITV were (as if that were possible) and they weren’t.

      1. red bull tastes like crap
        8th March 2010, 13:29

        keith, what is your opinion on james allen when he was at itv during the 2007 season? He says he was not pro-hamilton.

        1. The BBC were bias but they can’t really help it being British. However when there was bias it was pretty small especially compared to ITV.
          Schumacher is bound to be everywhere but that’s because he’s the main point of interest. It’s the thing that the press will latch onto to build up the season. I think this site has done it justice; it’s not harping on about the story but looking in depth at how Schumacher will cope while managing to avoid making it (and I hate this next phrase) the Michael show. It’s covered but covered well and just the right amount for my taste. Thanks very much Keith :)

        2. Wouldn’t matter if he said he wasn’t James Allen either! For bonkers-sake, he was Hamilton’s wife, who doesn’t know that?

      2. We dont get any BBC love here in Australia. No Build up, no nothing. Just the internets. =(

  13. At least when/if Schumi wins, we won’t need to hear the lengthly combination of the German and Italian national anthems any more, It’ll just be the German one.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how he copes with the rule changes that have happened since his retirement. I’m sure he’ll manage very well indeed.

    Although Eddie Jordan doesn’t believe he will (see the 2010 preview on BBC’s Red Button… he’s at it already, great stuff).

    1. Eddie did’t say he wouldn’t do well, he thought he’d win races.
      He just thought he done enough and it was time for him to give up the sport. He also said he was mad an suggested that someone be shot for the “nonsense” that is schumi’s return

  14. Fantastic article as ever Keith. Let all see how will Michael handle all this. I just hope that politic does not involve there dirty hand’s in F1 again.

  15. HounslowBusGarage
    8th March 2010, 11:03

    I’m sure Schu took just a couple of testing laps to get used to the idea of slicks and no traction control. But I think the lack of spare car in changing situations and not having the might of the Red Team behind him will take a bit more getting used to.
    Wouldn’t it be funny if he stopped at the Ferrari pit by mistake, like the Red Bull/Torro Rosso driver did last season.

    1. Wouldn’t it be funny if he stopped at the Ferrari pit by mistake, like the Red Bull/Torro Rosso driver did last season.

      Lolz, Rosberg too stopped at Williams during test this winter :-D

    2. Nico Rosberg pulled up outside the Williams pit in his W01 at Jerez when I was there. There’s always one!

  16. Schumacher has been testing at the Horensbergdam karting circuit at Genk (Belgium) the last 2 days… seems he’s getting ready for this weekend!

    1. Nice flash of information. Looks like everybody is workin hard (with Massa at interlagos).

      I wonder where the rest of the pilots are driving around (is Button in a taxi-cab driving through England?)

      1. I wonder where the rest of the pilots are driving around (is Button in a taxi-cab driving through England?)

        Funny you should mention… but he is:

        http://www.thedailydust.co.uk/2010/03/04/jls-and-jenson-button-star-in-new-walkers-advert/

        for the new Walkers Crisps advert.

      2. spanish senora
        8th March 2010, 13:29

        Lewis is in L.A. with Nicole!!!

        1. Drivin the Don’t Cha truck? ;o

  17. Great stuf Keith.

    We should take into account that of the 248 gp he started he finished 195 times in top ten, 182 times in top 6, 154 times on the podium. That means no matter what, he will always qualify properly and score points.

    With all strong line-up, the one who makes the least errors will probably be champion. He will not make many mistakes.

    1. Do you think Schumacher has a chance now of getting past Barricello for most GP competed in?
      It would mean Baricello has to quit quit soon and Schumacher going on for some years.

  18. All these rule changes mean nothing to Schumacher.

    Over his 15 year career, he saw many changes of rules and triumphed every time.

    However, the 13 new drivers would be the biggest surprise.

    Schumacher towards the end had really mediocre rivals (exception of Kimi and Fernando and sometimes Montoya).

    The current grid is full of better drivers than those in 2006

  19. i’ll think he’ll come to grips with it pretty fast, he’ll still do well, maybe not domination like we’ve seen, but well.

    he’s a natural racer, even after f1 he never stopped. just slowed down a little.

  20. I’m no fan of MS’s, but one thing I know for sure is that the guy is going to adapt to these rules sooner or later.

    His biggest “problem” is going to be the fact that F1 is far more competitive than it has ever been. MS is up against hungry young drivers like Hamilton and Vettel, who are in cars that are as good if not better than his own.

  21. it’s not like he’s been away from the sport; he’s been on the ferrari pit wall. I bet he doesn’t even remember the qualifying format he last used. just sit him in the car and he’ll get the most out of it :D

  22. Mouse_Nightshirt
    8th March 2010, 12:45

    Schuey might not have “raced” against Vettel, but they would have possibly shared the same track in the practice sessions at Monza in ’06.

    1. And he has raced against Hamilton, just not in F1:

      When Hamilton raced Schumacher

  23. I chuckled when I saw your mention of Adrian Sutil in the Rivals paragraph – a sideways reference to Sutil’s quite significant record of crashing into people ;-) ?

  24. Friday practice in 3days and 18h!!! Do you feel it? Its coming! Im getting crazy :)

  25. Does anybody think that if these rules prove too hard or Schumacher finds the competition too hard and finds him self not getting on the podium regularly, his neck injury may come back?

  26. wong chin kong
    8th March 2010, 14:19

    All these rules changes, restrictions will not make Schumacher struggle at all. He is no novice; he was seven time world champion and be acclimatize adjust relearn retrain to meet the new demands of F1 racing after a few races. The only obstacle to him winning the WDC is the competitiveness of the Mercedes F1 car. His battery is fully recharged and so I expect he will extract the maximum from the car irrespective of race conditions and venue, day or night.

  27. I had the opportunity to watch Shummi driving a standart kart at “Desafio Internacional” in Florianapolis, Brazil, last year. It was simply wonderfull. No doubt he still has his edge. But the F1 isn´t a one man sport, on the contrary, the points are result of hundreds of men´s work. A great driver still needs a good car to win a championship.
    For me, it is simple as that, if Mercedes give to him a car with similiar performance of MacLaren/Ferrari/RBR, we are going to hear the German anthem a lot.

  28. He don’t need more victories to prove nothing to anyone!

  29. I think Schumacher will be as good as ever.

    Many of the rule changes will be new to everyone else, and when you consider how inter-related things like qualifying and race strategies are, it will basically be a whole new world for everyone on the grid.

    He will have to learn some new tracks, but I suspect he will do so easily. When F1 first went to Malaysia in 1999, Schumacher’s pace blew everyone away. Considering this was his first race back from injury too, it makes an even more amazing demonstration of his skills, and especially pertinent to the notion that being older and having been out for three years will mean he will suffer. This is Schumacher we’re talking about here. The guy who set whole new levels of what it meant to be an F1 driver, including fitness. He may not be a spring chicken, but write off his abilities at your peril.

    Lastly, he does have a formidable set of rivals. But then, so do his rivals. They have to face everyone else too, and instead of themselves they will have to fight Schumacher. The notion alone will be just as daunting for them as it will be for Schumacher to be going up against eager, super-talented youngsters and, of course, his last great nemesis. The Schumacher-Alonso battle, though the Hamilton-Schumacher battle is of greater interest to me, will I feel be the great battle of the season: his old rival in his old seat. I can’t wait!

  30. The best thing about schumacher is that he likes to push things to the limit.He always push to the maximum even if it’s a risk.Interestingly,then the other drivers had the excuse of settling for points rather than take risks.Now that the point system has changed,I wounder what’s about to happen.We may have situations were the championship rivals will have to battle it out even harder for may be the last four or five races, even if it’s a risk. Offcourse that will be fireworks for us viewers.

    Another thing about schumi is that he can take care of his car very well even if the car is not so quick.Expect him to struggle a bit at the start or even loose some places.Once the fuel is burned and the car is fast enough,he will go for the fastest lap.

  31. Thomo from Kochi
    8th March 2010, 17:22

    What everyone forgets is that Michael has won a race each and every year for 16 years. That is awesome by any standards. More importantly there is only one race which he won using dubious tactics – and he did win 91 F1 races, which means that he won 90 without any tactic which may be considered dubious.
    I have no doubt that he will do well this year. If he does not it will not be because he can’t get to terms with the new technology, systems or rules. He will not succeed only if his car lets him down and that does not look likely. Remember 1997 when he pulled off 3 wins from a Ferrari that was in the process of being developed

    1. Which 1 race would that have been with dubious tactis?
      – after colliding with Hill?
      – ending the race in the pit box?
      – the whole season with Benneton probably using some traction control?
      – the Race in Indianapolis where he led the whole field of 6 Bridgestone shod cars?
      – the races won after his team mate had to let him through?

      Or some of the other races.
      Don’t misunderstand me, I was a great fan of Schumacher in his early years (up until the Hill / Villeneuve incidents and the later FIA bias for Ferrari/Schumacher). I stopped liking him for the team strategy, the feeling of biased rulings (BAR tank, Renault mass damper, Michelin tyres to name a few) for Ferrari that made the dominance of Schumacher / Ferrari in those years complete.

      Therefore I hope, that he gets some credibility back by winning some races and maybe a championship fair and square for the next 2-3 years while teaching Rosberg the best of his skills.

      1. Bas, I totally agree with you! But I´ve read his posts: don´t get him started!

  32. The thing is,you make a rule and he goes to it’s limits.Then you tighten the rules and he doesn’t repeat the same thing again.I don’t think he needs anymore credibility.Even if you take a quarter of all his victories it can be somewhat equal(if not better)to the best in business today.

  33. Don’t think Schumacher will ever have problems with the technical changes – a great driver as him is a very adaptive driver as well.
    The only things that can stop him are his age (reactions fade – that’s mother nature’s) and the performance deficiencies of the Merc. The latter he used to be able to compensate quite well, so it will be interesting to watch.
    My heart tels me he’ll fall prey to the younger challengers who are also quite strong and talented.

  34. I think Ross has been verbally and literally sandbagging, Schumi will be champ. Seems to be the most obvious possibility that people over analyzed and missed?

  35. Thomo from Kochi
    9th March 2010, 3:11

    The driver has to drive the car his team provides – whether it is so far ahead of the competition as in 2002 and 2004 or if some technology used skirted the rules.

    There is only one race where his team mate let Michael through and that was at the Hungaroring in 2004 – but then if you go back to Indianapolis 2002 Michael let Rubens take the race in a photo finish. So it’s even-stevens on that one.

    When I stated that there is only one race which Michael won in dubious fashion I had meant the one at Australia in 1994 where he collided with Hill, but then Michael did not win that, so I should not have included that

    At the 1998 British GP which Michael won in the pits, he was issued a stop go penalty for passing Wurz under a yellow flag. Michael being the thinking man he is, served out the 10 second penalty in the pits and won the race. How can you deny someone a race win when he broke no rule and was in any case leading the race by the proverbial country mile?

    In 2005 the entire issue was about tyres. Michelin, which was superior that year came to Indianapolis with tyres that was prone to explode at speed. Instead of advising teams using Michelins to limit their speed on that turn to what they determined was safe, they wanted a chicane to be introduced on Turn 13 and that too after qualifying. The FIA could not sanction a change in the circuit layout. Yes it was a farce of a race, but it was not of Michael’s creation. How can you deny Michael a win at a race which he won. It was not his call to race or not to race. In any case it was a race race in which his competitors tyres would disintegrated – chicane or otherwise and in all likelihood he would have won. The villain in the piece was Michelin and they paid the price – which is why we now have only Bridgestone in F1. If however, you want to deny Michael victory, you can adjust this against the race in Australia where he crashed into Hill.

    Controversies relating to BAR’s tank, Renault’s mass damper, tyres etc have nothing to do with Michael’s win loss record. What the team achieves and dominates a race or season cannot take anything away form the driver. If you do that then you have to take away all of Jenson’s 6 wins in the last season when his car was so dominant early in the year that the others had no chance. That was what happened with Ferrari in 2002 and 2004

    1. Thank you for making your point clearer Thomo. When you wrote dubious, I thought you ment just that, i.e. where his/his team being right or wrong were a point of discussion.

      As your own answer showed, there were a lot of such moments in his road to succes.

      A completely separate point is me losing my awe and later my respect for him and enyoj Schumacher loosing out to Hakkinen, Raikkonen, Montoya and Alonso. I am looking forward to him gaining this back now.

  36. It will be interesting to see how in performs in wet without traction control.

  37. Prisoner Monkeys
    9th March 2010, 5:03

    I’d say a more appropriate question would be what hasn’t changed. The answer is simple: Schumacher’s hunger. His desire to be the absolute best.

  38. Wasn’t ’94 a year with no computer aids (traction control etc) and didn’t Shcumi win the first few races when Senna was still with us that year?

  39. Thomo from Kochi
    9th March 2010, 12:54

    Both of us forgot about races in which Michael helped his team mate to win the race.

    1. Wow, everything was dubious! Yes, your right, both Irvine and Baricello (Massa probably not) were handed some races.

      I suppose, that is wat you get when one team is very far ahead.

  40. I cant wait to see him again racing. For me he is more worth to watch then the rest of the field together. When he stopped racing at the end of 2006, i stopped watching racing. He was no more there, so the rest of the racers got much more shine from the public, like they would be near as good as Michael. They are not! Alonso is nowhere near to MS. He could only beat Michael with a superior car. 91 wins ? People forgot thinking or what ? HE IS THE FAVOURITE FOR THE TITLE. END OF STORY.
    Any, yeah, i was a Senna fan until 1994. Then i was supporting Hill as he was Sennas teammate in the battle against Michael. But then through the season i realised who is absolutely better. At the end of that season i was a Schumi fan. One has to be blind not see his awesome driving knowledge. Noone comes near him.

  41. Val from Montreal
    9th March 2010, 17:38

    I think for the most part most fans are scared ******** that Schumacher re-dominates F1 like he has done for the most part of his amazing career .

    The likes of Brundle,Eddie Jordan,James Allen, Stirling Moss and countless others are totally giving Schumacher no chance of winning the title ever again …And that says alot of how fearfull they really are.

    I hope they like to eat their hats with mustard! ..
    I don’t think Ross Brawn,Norbert Haug and the whole Mercedes-Benz board of directors would hire a ”has-been” 41 year old if they did’nt think he’d be up to it ! If Rubens Barrichello won races in 09 then how come the greatest F1 driver of all woud’nt be able do the same in 2010 ?

    My feeling is that Mercedes and co. have been sandbagging the winter tests .

    Finally these new young drivers (WHO ARE OVERATED) will for the first time have some REAL competetion on the grid when they face Schumacher. That’s the way I see it.

    Schumacher world champion 2010 –

    1. Yeah, they are scared. They still like to underestimate a 7 time world champion (and it could have 10 as well already)
      I am thinking about this way: Mercedes has got the best engine. Reliable, fast, good on consumption. The strongest engine with the most skilled driver in combination. What could go wrong ? And with the engineering work of Ross Brawn. Also, Schumacher is a great engineer itself. Most of the drivers are just telling their engineers how they feel the car, and its up the them to make something out of those informations. Meanwhile Schumacher knows every detail of his car, the setup knowledge he brings is huge. If they have a technical problem, they will sort it out very fast. Remember they were more than 1 second slower per lap than the fastest cars on the first tests. At the last test it was not more than 0.3 second, and they bringing the upgrades to Bahrain. Plus to all forthcoming races, until they will be totally infront.

  42. “Michael helped his team mate to win the race”
    Did this ever happened? Really? Can someone list those (I guess) extremely rare events?
    (BTW: Schumy won´t win this years´ WDC!)

    1. Off the top of my head there was the 1999 Malaysian Grand Prix where he came back from injury and could have easily won the race for himself but let Irvine win as he was still in the title race for Ferrari.

      Then there was the 2002 US GP, Schumacher was leading and tried to engineer a dead heat with Barrichello but Barrichello ended up winning by a fraction of a second and neither driver knew who won until they had gotten out of the cars.

    2. Thomo from Kochi
      10th March 2010, 16:00

      Sepang 1999 Michael helped Eddie Irvine to win

  43. Nice summary…

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