It’s the German Grand Prix next weekend – and fans at the Hockenheimring have never had it so good.
They have six local drivers to cheer on – one-quarter of the F1 grid.
But are any of them ready to take on the mantle of heir to herr Schumacher?
On results alone, the argument over which of Germany’s F1 drivers is best is a short one. Schumacher’s seven world championships and 91 Grand Prix victories sees to that.
But, ten races in, his F1 comeback has not gone according to plan. He’s been frequently out-qualified and out-raced by his team mate in a way we seldom saw during his first 16 years in the sport.
Just as worrying for Schumacher is that he doesn’t seem to be reducing the gap to Nico Rosberg. His junior team mate was on the podium in Silverstone while Schumacher slipped to ninth.
His struggles have fed rumours he might cut his return short.
Expected by many to be a lamb to the slaughter this year, the score line tells a different story: Rosberg 90 – 36 Schumacher.
He briefly held second place in the championship after podium finishes in Sepang and Shanghai earlier this year.
If Mercedes are going to win a race this year, Rosberg looks most likely to be the man to do it.
Germany’s highest-placed drivers in the world championship is fourth – and would be a lot higher if his car didn’t keep breaking down.
But Red Bull unreliability has been only half the story of Vettel’s 2010 season. The worsening political situation at the team has cast Vettel’s efforts in an increasingly negative light.
Vettel made a desperate mistake in Istanbul, veering towards his team mate and causing a collision that ruined both their races. And he lucked out at Silverstone, picking up a puncture following the slightest of contact with Lewis Hamilton, though sympathy was in short supply after it became known the team had given him a new front wing that had been taken off Webber’s car.
Sutil is having his best season to date – the Force India driver is just a single point behind Schumacher in the championship.
As well as being far too quick for his team mate, Sutil has distinguished himself with some excellent passes, muscling past Sebastien Buemi at Valencia and squeezing past Schumacher at Silverstone.
Glock’s F1 career has been something of a messy affair so far. After starting a few races for Jordan in 2004 it took him four years to get back into the sport, going on a detour that took him through Champ Car and GP2 and finally back to F1 with Toyota.
With the Japanese manufacturer axing its under-performing team, Glock has gone from resource-rich Toyota to Virgin, whose budget is a fraction of what his previous team were spending.
He’s had few opportunities to show his potential this year, except on occasions when the Virgin has been fast enough to take on the Lotuses, as happened at Silverstone.
Schumacher’s former manager Willi Weber is now touting H?â??lkenberg as the next big thing. It’s not been readily apparent so far this year but H?â??lkenberg has done a good job for a rookie given how tightly testing is restricted these days.
He’s out-qualified Rubens Barrichello on occasions and seems to be getting steadily faster. It’s early days, though.
Out-scored team mate Robert Kubica last year but his hopes of landing a race seat with Mercedes were dashed when Schumacher confirmed his return.
With Schumacher’s comeback not going quite according to plan just yet, perhaps Heidfeld isn’t in such a bad position. He’s likely to be the of the list to take over should Schumacher decide to go back to retirement.
Who do you think is the best German driver in F1 right now? Which of them will stil be in the sport one, five or ten years from now? Have your say in the comments.
2010 German Grand Prix
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Image (C) Mercedes