Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Barcelona, 2011

Will the Schumacher comeback project get back on track in 2011?

2011 F1 season previewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Barcelona, 2011
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Barcelona, 2011

Michael Schumacher‘s F1 comeback did not go to plan last year. Will that change in 2011?

Hopes of challenging for wins were dashed pretty much from the off in 2010 as the W01 was not on the pace of the front-running cars.

More seriously for Schumacher, he struggled with the Bridgestone tyres. The front tyres, reduced in width for 2010, were too weak for his driving style and team mate Nico Rosberg scored the lion’s share of the team’s points.

This was an unusual situation for Schumacher who had dominated previous team mates.

Schumacher criticised the ban on testing during the season. In his Ferrari years he had done a huge amount of in-season testing, but that means of recovering lost ground is no longer available to him.

He’s also had to adjust his driving to meet tighter restrictions on dangerous moves. He was fortunate to avoid disqualification for his swerve in front of Rubens Barrichello at Hungary last year.

For 2011 the stewards have been granted new powers to deal with drivers who “[deliberately] crowd a car beyond the edge of the track or [make] any other abnormal change of direction” – a rule that sounds like it was written to keep the likes of Schumacher in check.

What will the passage of 12 months and a full year back behind the wheel have done for Schumacher’s chances?

Last year expectations of Schumacher were adjusted to meet the new conditions. But this year he has a new car and F1 has a new tyre supplier.

It may be too much to expect Schumacher at the age of 42 to return to the peak of his competitive form.

But surely this year he’s going to start looking more like the driver who won seven world championships and 91 races, and less like the driver who struggled dreadfully in the rain at Shanghai last year.

Team mate Nico Rosberg, meanwhile, could be the most underrated driver on the grid. He had some excellent drives last year, but often found himself with few cars to race against or stymied by misfortune.

Schumacher has rebuffed questions about any regrets over his comeback by pointing out he’s playing the long game in a three-year project with Mercedes.

He deserves credit for sticking it out after a tough 2010. The easy thing to do last year would have been to cut and run, rather than stick around and receive the kind of beating from Rosberg that Schumacher himself used to dish out to Barrichello.

But the results will have to start coming sooner rather than later.

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78 comments on “Will the Schumacher comeback project get back on track in 2011?”

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  1. Schumacher will continue to improve this year. I think many under-estimated the detrimental effect of his lack of experience through last years’ season. I know that sounds strange when you think of his overall experience in F1 but a lot changes in one year away from F1, let alone three.

    Schumi had to aquaint himself with the new car, tyres and tracks. It was evident in the second half of the season that he was in a better position to challenge Nico and performed quite well at tracks he was familiar with like Spa and Suzuka.

  2. He is not the old man we all know but Schumacher still have the heat in him.Last a combination of different environment & Bad car set up according to him lead him that far but now he have learn things so I don’t think there should be any trouble. So will Mercedes be able to provide a good car for him? May be.

    Nico have to hope that Schumi help develope the car & he drives them fast.I think on current form Nico is better then Schumi so if Mercedes do make a good car it will be him to challenge for the WC rather then Schumacher.

  3. I hope not. He was the Dark Age of Formula One personified.

    1. What Dark Age? You mean the age where we didn’t go a season without a fatality? That was far worse than someone you don’t like winning lots.

  4. For me the MS/Ferrari era was frustrating not because MS was somebody I didn’t like winning lots, but because of HOW he won lots…permanent boot-licking non-competing teammates from race 1 of each season, designer cars, designer tires, unlimited testing, on a team that got the heads up first and foremost on rule changes plus veto power on said rules plus an extra 100 mill a year just because they were Ferrari, not to mention the bullying and unethical behaviour on the track…that is how I define the Dark Age of F1 that saw the FIA and F1 so determined to see MS end the Ferrari WDC drought that they sold out and skewed everything toward MS, their new icon post Senna…

    Bottom line for me…MS had advantages hand over fist moreso than any other driver in the history of F1, imho, and the numbers he compiled reflect that…but to me it was not an honourable way to go…

    So will the MS comeback project get back on track in 2011? I think MS has only proved what a driver can do with advantages galore, and now that he doesn’t have nearly those advantages, and he has a bonefide teammate to concern himself with, I don’t think so.

    1. Indeed, but for every rant about the “advantages” he had, there is a tendency to forget about the level of dedication required by Schumacher to effectively turn a team around that hadn’t won anything since the days of Jody Scheckter. He didn’t just drop into the best team like numerous other champions have in the past. He left Benetton after back-to-back titles and took on another challenge. MS personified and embodied the modern F1 driver by setting new standards for hard work in the gym and of course on the test track, to ensure that he would have numbers that no-one could match.

      Considering that as “The Dark Age” is just poor usage of words. That term should be reserved for the age when talented young drivers had their careers cut short because of a simple car failure.

      At the age of 41, “comeback project” is not likely to see him reach the heights he did earlier in his career, but I would still expect him to do better than in 2010.

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