Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Istanbul, 2011

Little improvement in Schumacher’s second year

2011 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Istanbul, 2011
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Istanbul, 2011

Michael Schumacher’s troubled weekend in Istanbul has brought his decision to return to F1 into question once again.

His post-race remarks that he wasn’t getting “big joy” from his racing any more were widely reported.

With the results still not coming in the second year of his comeback, how much longer will he stick around?

His difficulties last year were explained away by unhappiness with the Bridgestone tyres. In his absence, F1 turned into a single-tyre championship, and the weaker front tyre now used by Bridgestone did not suit his driving style.

Schumacher complained about the lack of opportunity for in-season testing, and over the winter we discovered he suffers from nausea when driving Mercedes’ simulator.

Problems with the Drag Reduction System were blamed for his poor qualifying compared to Rosberg in the fly-away races.

But even making allowances for all these setbacks, his performance in 23 races as Nico Rosberg’s team mate has been disappointing. Here’s how their race finishing positions compare:


2010-1 2010-2 2010-3 2010-4 2010-5 2010-6 2010-7 2010-8 2010-9 2010-10 2010-11 2010-12 2010-13 2010-14 2010-15 2010-16 2010-17 2010-18 2010-19 2011-1 2011-2 2011-3 2011-4
Michael Schumacher 6 10 10 4 12 4 11 15 9 9 11 7 9 13 6 4 7 9 8 12
Nico Rosberg 5 5 3 3 13 7 5 6 10 3 8 6 5 5 17 6 4 12 5 5

Rosberg has made it into Q3 in every race, Schumacher once, and Rosberg has typically been around two-thirds of a second faster on a hot lap.

While Rosberg has spent 84 laps in the top five so far this year, Schumacher has managed just one.

This is strange territory for Schumacher. In his pre-comeback F1 life being beaten by a team mate on a race weekend was a rarity.

His return to F1 is supposed to be a three-year plan. But it’s hard to imagine that graph extending to sixty or so races with no improvement in Schumacher’s form. Surely something has to change.

And if, as he admitted after Turkey, he is no longer enjoying his racing, then why hang around at all?

There are signs that frustration at his difficulties are translating into mistakes at the wheel – not least his bizarre swerve into the back of Vitaly Petrov’s Renault during the Turkish Grand Prix.

There are many examples of great sporting champions who stayed on past their prime, the scale of their achievements irrevocably diminished by their inability to judge when to stop.

F1 is no exception – think of Nigel Mansell’s ill-advised appearances for McLaren in 1995, or Graham Hill racing at the back of the field for year after year in the seventies.

It may already be too late for Schumacher to avoid a similar fate.

Form changes quickly in F1, and this is one driver who must never be underestimated. But if his performances continue to disappoint, and he really is no longer enjoying what he’s doing, he may decide to hang up that red helmet for good.

Read about Schumacher’s former life at Mercedes in this earlier article: Michael Schumacher: the Mercedes years

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164 comments on “Little improvement in Schumacher’s second year”

  1. I spend every race thinking “Well maybe next race he’ll be better” but it’s just not happening.

    1. Yeah, most of us who saw him racing before just keep thinking he certainly must show some great racing on the line.

      But it seems it just won’t happen.

      1. to be fair we’ve seen he’s still got awesome defensive driving prowess.. he gives some younger drivers a lesson.
        but gone are the days you can just man-handle the car to get more out of it which is a shame.
        shumi loved the oversteer but the mercedes looks more of an understeerer to me

      2. It’s sad to see some of Michael’s mistakes but I disagree greatly that MS is past it or doesn’t have what it takes. It’s not that he no longer has “it” but rather he refuses to let “it” go. Defensive driving is dead with the new rules, if a faster car approaches you there are two outcomes, he overtakes you now or he overtakes you in a lap or two. The simple fact is Michael Schumacher is an anachronism, he still believes that he should prevent anyone overtaking him at all costs; this iteration of F1 – and it pains me to say this – you have to just let drivers go past you and hope they will come back to you later.

        Last year, he went too far in Hungary and Canada; both situations where he was at a tyre disadvantage and tried to make the difference himself. Michael has to learn to pick his fights more carefully, his street fighter tactics are no longer conducive to producing good results. Nico no doubt has a few tenths in quali but Schumacher is ending up nowhere in the races by picking unnecessary and futile fights.

        Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, he has to realise and accept that drivers are becoming less and less responsible for making the difference. The tyres are gone after 70km, drive more aggressively and you won’t see north of 55km. The fuel is lean, turn the wick up to keep pace with a faster car and you’ll be crawling to the finish line. Michael is habitually used to winning, F1 in 2011 is managing things so you don’t end up losing (à la Lewis in Malaysia). I have no doubt in his abilities behind the wheel but I’m not sure he can readjust from the “football” Formula One with its two or three significant overtakes per race to the everyone-overtakes-everyone-half-a-dozen-times slam dunk, alley ‘oop “basketball” F1 that we have today.

        1. The football vs. basketball analogy is a good one, was that your own? I agree that things have changed since Schumacher was so dominant, but I’m also not convinced that he’s still at the same level he once was. He’s shown glimmers of that skill, but not consistently enough for me to confidently say he’s the same as he always was…

    2. It’s strange when you look at him, he is just slow. I guess he’s driving like he did some years ago, but just can’t reach that perfection.

    3. I’ll be honest, when I first heard about him coming back, I was looking forward to him getting shown a thing or two by the Hamiltons and Vettels of the F1 world.

      But now, after 23 races without merely a hint of being above average in any way, its really quite sad… embarrassing almost. Now I want nothing more for him to get on the podium.

  2. Schumacher will only go when he decides to do so. It would be awful PR for Mercedes to push him out, no matter how stagnant his form is. Michael is a proud man, and I can’t see him bailing out mid-season. Most likely he will quietly continue until the end of 2011, then retire permanently.

    I think he’s been poor since his comeback, but I’m not surprised by it. He was noticeably in decline even as he neared the end of his “first” F1 career.

    1. Schumacher clearly isn’t as competitive as he used to be, he is definitely combative as we saw last Sunday. But I think his negative and over aggressive driving may even hurt the Mercedes brand.

      Surely the longer Schumacher persists the longer it will take for Mercedes to reap some reward from their investment. A younger driver may be hungry and develop a lot quicker.

      I think he should bow out gracefully soon, instead of embarrassing himself as he is doing now.

      1. On the other hand, I bet Ross and Shumacher are still the #1 car-development team at Mercedes. I thing Mike has simply just gotten a bit too old to drive the car like he needs to, but he was always regarded as being supreme at discussing the car with the mechanics and getting the most out of development. Especially with Ross Brawn at Ferrari and Benetton. If they keep him around despite iffy results, that will be why they do it. I wonder if Mike is making Nico’s car faster….

    2. noticeably in decline even as he neared the end of his first career???
      His last race in 2006 was one of the best he ever drove!

      1. Yes, Brazil was undoubtedly a great race for Michael. But, 2006 as a whole was the only season where Schumi lost the championship to another driver, despite being in a superior car. Honestly, I don’t believe the Michael of the late ’90s and early 2000s would have lost that year.

        1. Can anyone say “mass damper”?

        2. damn renault had the superior car in the first half of 2006. After that the mass dampers were found illegal and renault had to take them off. The comeback began, msc overtook Alonso, and then in the last two crucial races his car broke down. If not he would have 8 championships!

          1. Ferrari were already ahead of Renault by the time the mass damper was banned. See, for instance, the races in the US and France. There’s no denying the Renault was faster in the opening few races, but by the time we were into the European season Ferrari had well and truly caught up.

          2. The point rather is that the mass damper gave Renault a head-start, a bit like the EBD and DDD for Red Bull and Brawn respectively.

            Renault had the best car for about the first half, Ferrari for about the second half. It was a pretty even championship that Alonso deservedly won.

          3. McLaren had a similar device (often called a J-damper) from the end of 2005.

          4. @Red Andy the US and France gp were races 10 and 11. That’s past the first half of the season since there were 18 races in total.

            The first 9 races Alonso won 6 races, the last nine msc 5. Anyway Alonso won, i would have rather seen MSC take the title that year and kimi in 2005, but i can’t say Alonso titles were undeserved and i didn’t. So we agree on the last part

        3. Charging bull
          11th May 2011, 20:21

          Sorry I thought you said the 06 Ferrari was superior to alonso’s Renault. The renault was the class of the field in 05 and 06 and it still went to the wire!

  3. team mate thats allowed to beat him, much better competition, no spare car set up for him and no unlimiting testing- does anyone think this has also had an impact?

    1. You talk as though Schumacher was never beaten by his team mates, he was but the fact is in the same machinery none of the team mates could get close on a regular basis. The reason favouritism came into play was because Michael put himself into a championship winning situation so early, as did Alonso at Renault/Ferrari, Hamilton in ’08.

      As for unlimited testing, something all teams, had. You talk as though Ferrari were the only ones in the paddock. It benefited everyone.

      And when has Michael needed a spare car since his return?

      It’s just simply down to age and not being in the sport for 3 years, Hakkinen tried to come back after the same time away and was 3 seconds of the pace. Which in reflection puts Michael’s achievements pretty damn high.

        1. Prost said last year: If anyone can do it (have a good comeback, etc), it is Michael.
          I would love to know how fast Nico really is right now. He has clearly evolved…

          1. I think Nico is probably in the top 5 drivers on the grid. The valuable experience at Williams has set him up well for Mercedes i’m sure if the car is up to it he will bag his first win.

      1. The spare care offers an alternate setup, which he did in fact use on occasion in changing weather. I think it’s a valid point that it’s not available now due to parc ferme conditions following qualifying.

        Yes, he was away for 3 years, but what about now? He’s got a year under his belt and isn’t doing much better than last year. In fact, I honestly feel like we’re seeing MORE mistakes this year than last year.

        I feel like it’s excuse after excuse from fans in hopes to defend his legacy and legend. “He’s good considering X.” “He just doesn’t like the tires.” “Other drivers have more experience.” At what point will people admit that he is past his prime? Yes, he was clearly once an incredible driver. But without his history, if he simply came in as a rookie, would people still be giving him so many chances? And moreover, what of the rookies who seem to be adapting and racing cleanly? Why aren’t they having the same problems as he has?

        1. At what point will people admit that he is past his prime?

          I agree he is pas his prime, but in fairness the post you quoted did also indicate this:

          It’s just simply down to age

      2. Geordie Porker
        11th May 2011, 15:24

        RIISE – whilst I largely agree with your statement, what a lot of people forget is that Schumacher was also the development driver for Bridgestone, so he got tyres which were really well suited to his driving style: a ‘pointy front end’ I think is the term. These tyres don’t behave like that and Schumacher, after a lifetime of one driving style, is struggling to adapt.
        Having said that, he’s still faster than I’ll EVER be, so you have to admire him – still extremely talented and it’s a shame seeing him struggling.

    2. Charging bull
      11th May 2011, 23:21


  4. I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll say it again here. In my opinion Schumacher is too old to drive without TC on the cars and cannot adjust for wheel spin as much as the younger drivers these days.

    1. I don’t think age has as much to do with it as his time away from the cockpit. Personally I feel it would be easier for a driving to keep going such as Rubens and constantly adjusting than a driver -no matter what age- spending three years away from a sport that has seen many changes and suddenly being thrown in at the deep end.

  5. After 1994 (and obviously 1997) I’ve had a bit of an issue with Schumacher. I am not his biggest fan by a long way. In fact I used to support anyone but him.

    I am finding his comeback to be quite uncomfortable though. He is one of the greatest drivers the sport has ever seen, in a good car or a bad car (in his previous F1 stint at least).

    Seeing him fail to battle it out with kids 20 years younger than him and failing is heart breaking to watch. I can see why he came back, who wants to give up on what they were born to do? I hope he gets one last podium before he leaves, but it doesn’t look likely at the moment. :(

    It’s funny how my opinion has actually changed towards him. I actually like him these days.

    1. I second that emotion – used to hate Schui, now I just kinda wish he could find some form.

      I’m sure if he found the front I’d switch back and be cheering for Hamilton and Button to beat him again, but it would be nice for that to be an achievement…

      1. I think that both of you are right – Schumi’s return has brought us a different driver.

        The Schumi of today isn’t as fast, precise, instinctive, or formidable. That’s not in any way surprising for a man of 41 years old. Comparing him to 23 year old Schumacher is a ridiculous exercise to start with, and I don’t know why commentators are bothering, other than to Phil Space in their bylines or TV coverage. 23 year old Schumi would never have gotten caught up in the scrapes and battles that he has the past 2 years.

        He’s also not as arrogant, aloof, predatory, or, for want of a better phrase, vicious, on the track. 41 year old Schumi would not repeat his actions on Hill, Jaques, or at the Rascasse, I think. Yes there was the incident with Rubens in the wall. But 23 year old Schumi would never have hung around the media square, looking genuinely concerned, waiting for Rubens to show up, so that he could apologise personally and explain himself.

        Somewhere in a point of time there was a moment when 23 year old and 41 year old Schumi merged, and we had a perfect mix of inspirational speed, winning aggression, humour, decency and a balanced outlook on life. Unfortunately it looks like that moment was when he was retired from F1.

        I think he’ll bow out gracefully at the end of the year, and I hope he gets to stand on that podium one more time before he does. I think we all would.

  6. I have my fingers crossed for him literally every qualifying, every race and even practice sessions. I feature him in my predictions for various competitions more through hope than real judgement and I am completely devastated to see such a true legend fall from grace so publically and, dare I say it, in a slightly humiliating way.

    He has done nothing in that Mercedes car that, say, Heidfeld or Glock couldn’t have done and at times he has looked desperate. His moves against Barrichello in Hungary and Massa in Canada last year and now this on Petrov show that he does not know when to give up. Obviously his moves on Hill and Villeneuve were similarly unsporting, but also understandable. I think Michael needs to realise the difference between fighting tooth and nail for a WDC and fighting tooth and nail for 12th or 13th place in a mid season GP.

    This may seem harsh but I assure you I am a huge fan of his – it just pains me to see him so far down the order. I hope he can pick up the pace and salvage some of his comeback with a podium or even a top 3 grid position!

    Good luck Michael!

    1. I feature him in my predictions for various competitions more through hope than real judgement…

      So true! My bitter hope is costing me dearly in the F1F prediction championship.

  7. What’s the vertical axis of the graph supposed to be exactly?

    1. Race position.

      1. lol.. i wondered that too.. what could 2.5 mean and why is it the lowest marker on the scale :S

  8. I think Schumacher is a lot like Vettel. Or maybe Vettel is a lot like Schumacher. They’re both very good at controlling the field when they’re out front, but there’s at least half a dozen drivers who are better than both of them when they’re in the thick of the action. If Schumacher were to get himself out in front at some point, I have no doubt he could thrive – but so long as he’s in the middle, he’s in unfamiliar territory. Especially since the removal of refuelling has changed the nature of racing. It’s no longer a series of time trials where drivers have to head one another off, which was where Schumacher was so strong. But since you now have to pass on the circuit, Schumacher is out of his element.

    1. I definitely disagree with this statement. Schumacher of all the drivers who have ever raced F1 has proven himself as a superb attacking and defensive driver. Qualities required to perform in the thick of the action.
      Vettel is yet to prove himself but given his skill level I don’t see aggressive racing being a problem for him.
      True he has made some simple errors in overtakes last year but so too has Hamilton who is hailed as a great over taker.
      But he has at times demonstrated decisive and clinical overtaking ability eg. Button in Melbourne, albeit on fresher tyres but he showed here that he has the ability to think quickly and react spontaneously.
      Back to Schumacher, I think he’s just gone off the boil and lacking the general sharpness, that’s not to say it was never there.

      1. What Hamilton did in Monza/2010 and Turkey/2011 should put him down in the list of overtakers… :)
        Come on… We should always encourage overtakings…

    2. In short words and very sharp. Great insight, Prisoner. I can’t agree more!

    3. I disagree. In my opinion Schumacher and Hamilton are the best drivers at overtaking on the grid. And Schumi is by a mile the best at defending a position, Webber and Lewis being the worst defending drivers (both have put in danger a lot of cars when been overtaken, and no I don’t think Schumacher’s move on Barrichello was wrong, it was from the another F1 era). Vettel reminds me of Mika Hakkinen, easy winners when they start on pole but not good at overtaking. Check F1 from 1995 to 1999 and you’ll see Schumacher skills at overtaking and winning a lot of races when not starting on pole.

      1. I don’t think Schumacher’s move on Barrichello was wrong, it was from the another F1 era

        What do you mean?

        1. The two young hopefuls who were weaned on the aggressive manoeuvres of Ayrton Senna, crossing swords once again more than a decade and a half later.

        2. The era when Michael got away with everything. :)

        3. It seems many would disagree, but at the time of that incident, that’s pretty much what Gerhard Berger was saying: no one would have thought twice about it in his day!

        4. Icemangrins
          11th May 2011, 19:44

          People forget what Webber did to Massa in Fuji pit straight. Yet, Schumi got the stick .. because he is Schumi !

          He will leave when he wants to leave. We don’t need a article to question why he should hang around !

          1. Webber was against the line when Massa went over the line BEFORE he overtook Webber. It was Massa’s own choice to go over the line.

            Schumacher was in the middle of the track and he pushed Barrichello off track. Barrichello was “crowded” off track.

            That is why schumacher got punished. Massa got away with it because in fact he did keep half a wheel on track.

            People don’t blame Button for “pushing” Vettel off track in Australia either. Vettel, as Massa, choose to go off track by themselves.

      2. Hakkinen not good at overtaking!?

        Did you not see Spa 2000!?

        1. Well you can’t judge a driver on one incident but looking at the larger picture many a time Hakkinen had to come back from the 6th or 7th row to claim a podium.

    4. Nonsense. Sebastian is quicker on a single lap than Michael ever was but a 2o-something year old Michael would humiliate him when it comes to driving through the field which is far more impressive than watching somebody race to the flag with an empty track ahead of him. Both impressive but very different skills.

      1. Thats addressed to the PM.

  9. I get the impression that Schumacher really doesn’t like qualifying. Apparently the range in optimum set-up for qualifying and the race is quite large with the Pirellis, larger than we had with the Bridgestones. Schumacher’s race pace has looked pretty decent, if not as good as Rosberg’s, but he keeps getting into all these needless scraps as if he’s defending the lead with 2 laps to go. It’s probably an instinctive thing as Schumacher was such a cerebral racer.

    I think Schumacher is simply not as good, coupled with not being able to get the right balance between qualifying and the race and tangling too many times. Honestly he would probably be better sacrificing all qualifying and “doing Webbers”. Then he might have some of the joy back, carving the field up instead of defending from midfielders.

    1. I think he likes to have several laps to improve on himself during qualifying.

      1. Don’t you think that is better though? Seeing a driver improve constantly and showing their true pace instead of having to hook it up perfectly first time. Qualifying is very deceiving nowadays.

        1. I must say, I certainly enjoy seeing drivers slice a few tenths off several laps in a row to make a tense battle for pole.

          Sure, its impressive to have a smashing pole in from nowhere. But it is not as satisfying to watch and see how a driver gets there.

    2. Icthyes, I must disagree.
      Schumacher threaten to shake up the field during practice at Turkey, yet come pressure time, the wheels fell off.
      Schumacher is not handling the pressure, whether it be qualifying or racing. Maybe it’s the many years of running at the front that have hampered him, but Sundays drove was a joke. Michael displayed the driving skills of an amateur and while he has always been a great defender, I feel he’s become a great pretender.
      Shame to see as I’d like to see him up there as much as Id like to see Vettel start from the back off the grid

      1. I don’t see where we disagree to be honest.

        The thing about Sunday was that all people seem to remember was the Petrov incident, which if you look at it from an alternative angle looks a lot more like a video game overtake gone wrong than a Jerez-style shunt – when they make contact Patrov is actually pointing away from the apex, towards Schumacher. On balance it was still a scrappy race with poor pace, but not quite as bad.

        I’m just as ready to criticise Schumacher as praise him but I think it’s pretty obvious a lot of people just want to glee at the guy who ran rings around their favourites 10 years ago.

  10. Bigbadderboom
    11th May 2011, 10:44

    Has Schumis form dipped that much or is the calibre of the opposition so much better these days, much has been made of the “Playstation Generation” but perhaps todays drivers are simply fitter, quicker and more intelligent. Over the years many drivers have done something extra, Senna made it his business to understand the car fully, others have made physical condiotioning a priority, and Schumachers complete commitment to car development was often what gave him the edge. But every driver does all of these things now, they have learnt from great champions, perhaps now Schumi is struggling to find that edge. F1 is more about fitness and reactions now and unfortunatley age comes to us all, and with age fitness diminishes. I hope to see him call it a day at the end of this season, for the sake of his legacy.

    1. I dissagree youre either on the limit or your not and michael was always on the the limit pre comeback. He just cant find that extra two or three tenths, and i hope im wrong but i think thats his age.

    2. Well, he’s a champion of old battling it out with the young guns. There’s a certain sentimental ring to it. And, for what it’s worth, he actually does a decent job. In my opinion he’s just a bit too old to compete at the very top, but he’s still hanging in there, scoring points.

      Also, I think that the drivers aren’t much better now, than they were fifteen years ago. I feel like the sport is more forgiving today and drivers can afford more mistakes without being punished for them.

      Finally, I disagree strongly about Shumacher’s achievements being diminished by his “inability to judge when to stop”. His achievements will be just as impressive next year as they were four years ago. His achievements will be there, regardless of his success with Mercedes.

      1. Bigbadderboom
        11th May 2011, 16:02

        I agree Ben that for me his acheivements wont be tarnished, as for many people. Unfortunatly as younger fans enter the sport their living memory of Schumacher will be different to those that watched him through his whole career. And that is what I meant be his legacy. As for the sport being more forgiving, I’m not so sure, the sport is definatley different, requiring different skill sets. Obviousley the fatilities are (touch wood) almost non existant now, and incidents rarer. But the young new drivers have far more to contend with in the cockpit, whilst maintaining their speed. Schumacher was for me the best modern f1 driver but he is no longer the ideal fit for the sport he once was.

        1. Unfortunatly as younger fans enter the sport their living memory of Schumacher will be different to those that watched him through his whole career

          Being from a younger generation who really got into F1 during Schumacher’s reign I can agree that many of my generation will find it hard to see the ‘new’ Schumacher and believe that this was the man who was so dominant and relentless on the track just several years before. However, for me, I don’t think this period will ever stay in my mind. He will always be the guy who helped save Ferrari, who was ruthless, pushed the rules, relentlessly quick in a race and rarely had to carve through the field but when he did he could do it as though he was a terminator like at Brazil and that won’t ever fade. Hopefully I’ll remember the more pleasant side he’s shown of his character the last two years though…

          1. That’s well said Steph, I feel much the same about him now!

  11. Rosberg has typically been around two-thirds of a second on a hot lap.

    Maybe I’ve got this one wrong, but I think there should be a “faster” in this.

    1. To add something more productive to the article, I think the biggest problem Michael has is, surprisingly, his lack of confidence. This is not only due to being beaten by Rosberg, I think he can handle that. What’s his bigger problem is is that he is driving in a field which has neither fear nor respect for him unlike in his dominating Ferrari years. Back then, it was an achievement to beat him and his team – that leads to said “fear”.

      I don’t think he should end his career before his contract ends, but I am interested in whether Mercedes are patient enough with him. They were very patient with his brother and it seems like the patience has payed off somewhat – can a F1 team, however afford to wait four years for a driver to bring good results?

    2. Thanks Klon, fixed it.

  12. Mr JoeBlack
    11th May 2011, 11:15

    Actually, I’m really sad to Micheal in this shape.
    i believe F1 is very demanding sports, and the new changes, DRS specially will make it more complex for Micheal.
    the fact is Micheal older than the other drivers, hes reflex is slower, and this is explain why he is much slower in the qualifications than hes team mate by far. simply because of the use of DRS over a complete lap, which shows how rosberg the younger driver is able to handle it more efficiently.
    During the race Micheal is behind rosberg around 0.3 s/lap
    During the qualifications he is behind 0.6/sec

    DRS is the difference.

  13. I’ve found myself almost ignoring Schumacher, certainly more this year than last. He’s just become one of those anonymous drivers who wander around the midfield. Not far enough in front to be noteworthy, not having battles with anyone just behind, and not making a nuisance of himself at the back, and he doesn’t get too much television coverage either.

    It’s like he’s just not there any more.

  14. good work schuey! another 7 years and you’ll be on the podium!
    tbh though.. he has had some moments of pace this season, but his performance in turkey kind of nullified it all..

  15. The guy is used to winning. Why would he enjoy this?

    1. In fact he left motor racing because he didn’t want to simply race, he wanted to compete for the championship.

  16. not least his bizarre swerve into the back of Vitaly Petrov’s Renault during the Turkish Grand Prix.

    What? If by that, you actually mean “holding to his line and petrov sliding into his car”, fine, if not, just a weird thing to say.

    1. No that’s not what I meant.

      Schumacher had a clear view of Petrov’s car and clearly steered into the back of it. Even if Petrov had lost control of his car (and I’m not convinced he had), it was Schumacher who turned in and hit the Renault.

      1. It looked to me like he was trying to switch back and pull an over and under, but misjudged it rather badly and took off the wing.

        You seem to be suggesting that this was another Villeneuve incident. I don’t think that was the case.

    2. Even with rose tinted specs it was still 100% MSCs error

      1. It’s very hard to see, but check this animated gif posted by Burnout: http://i53.tinypic.com/2ymhild.gif

        Schumacher expected Petrov to make the apex, he starts turning wide, you can see a brief attempt at avoidance my Schumacher and then the two collide.

        It’s entirely obvious that Schumacher should have surrendered because Petrov was never going to make the corner. Pretty obvious, that is, if you know the other car is going to lose control and create a Renault-sized barrier to the apex.

        1. Petrov only lost control because Schumacher hit the rear of his car. He was already turning in when Schumacher hit him, and then the car straightened up and he didn’t make the corner.
          There happened a lot of overtakes there on the inside in that corner, and most of the other drivers were able to avoid hitting the car that overtook them.

          1. It was Michael’s dirty habit of trying to squeeze and intimidate drivers that caused it. He could have just chose a defensive line to begin with, but no, he was on the racing line and when Petrov got on the inside and beside him, he just kept squeezing him off line and almost off the track. You can clearly see that Schumacher’s focus was not on taking the corner but just making sure Petrov fails. That was some of the worst driving I have ever seen by any F1 driver.

        2. Cant get any clearer than what this gif shows, like I said above, schumacher is on his line, already conceded position, petrov brakes too late, slides, and hits schumacher. There is no “steering to the back of it” at all.

          1. At the point at which Schumacher turns left the Renault is still alongside him.

            Whatever Petrov was doing, whether he was in control or not, the car was there and Schumacher made the misjudgement of steering towards it.

        3. Thanks for the plug Icthyes, but I got that link from sw6569.

      2. He said so himself.

  17. The current generation of drivers are the most amazing F1 has ever had, but they hardly get any recognition for their ability.
    It takes the travails of Schumacher, to put into perspective, the quality of the field.
    Schumacher is well known for his ability to process a vast amount of onformation while driving. While I doubt many are his exact equal in that regard, one can still conclude that the driving abilities of his rivals, is hardly as a result of the weight of a lead foot on the throttle, but someting more cerebral

    1. I’m sorry but the theory that the current crop of drivers are faster just does not add up. A lot of people consider alonso to be the current “best driver” and schumacher had no problem beating him,in fact if it wasn’t for a couple of rare dnf’s in 2006 he would have taken the title from him.

      1. So maybe Alonso improved in the years between then and now? I think he learned a lot from 2007, 2008-09, being under pressure from Hamilton; maybe not right away, but with reflection, and working to be better in the not very competitive renault, and last year he again worked hard on himself and the team to get back into the WDC fight.

      2. But while Ferrari was on the pace after mid season, Renault really suffered a lot from suddenly having the Mass dampers deemed illegal as moveable aero devices. Without that it would have been a lot harder to catch Alonso.

  18. I think what Schumacher is showing is that it is just simply not possible anymore to spend three years out of the most advanced and fast moving sport in the world. Even for someone like Schumacher the changes between the cars he left in 06 and the ones he came back to last year are massively different.

    I mean Barrichello is of comparable age and is/has been performing as well if not better than Michael over the last few seasons but he has been part of the development process all the way through.

    I really don’t think age is that much of a factor, he’s probably lost a little bit of speed which is just natural but that three years out of the car really really hurt him most.

    Mansell won his title aged 39, Prost was 38 in 1993 and had a year out the year before so you can still compete at the top as you get older (granted they were in the best car but they were still dominant.) People talk about Mansell in 1995 but people forget he won the last race of ’94 and was competitive in comparison to Hill, he just realised the Mclaren wasn’t a great car and didn’t want to compete unless he was winning things. I think Schumacher is starting to feel the same way as we saw at the weekend.

    1. Exellent point.

  19. I think it was a mistake him coming back as a driver. For sure he’s a big talent and got great expertise to bring to a developing team maybe, but driving should be for younger guys, with quicker reactions and no fear. The drive should go to Bruno Senna or some of the many talented drivers on the scene. Schuey should impart his expertise as a team manager or owner (god knows he already has enough money!!)

  20. Mansell won his title aged 39, Prost was 38 in 1993 and had a year out the year before so you can still compete at the top as you get older

    No you can’t, no anymore and MSC is proof of that, and your examples are all approx 4 years younger than MSC is now, almost a lifetime in any competitive sport.

  21. Just to play devil’s advocate:

    Niki Lauda was beaten in the first two years of his comeback with McLaren by John Watson. In his third year back, he beat Alain Prost to win the championship. I think most would rate Prost as a greater talent than Watson.

    I also think most would rank Schumacher as a greater talent than Lauda. As such, I refuse to write Schumacher off until the third year of his contract is done. (After all, of the drivers looking for a ride for next year, who is better than Schumacher in his current form?)

    I think the main problem Michael needs to address is his qualifying. His race pace seems fine. If he gets further up the grid in qualifying, I think we’ll see better form from him. He seemed very dejected by his qualifying performance this time- which gave rise to the “big joy” comment. He said he lost some feeling in the car from practice to qualifying, and I see no reason to not believe him.

    1. Lauda had the advantage of being in the best car that year too, so he only had to really fight Prost.

      Both Schumacher and Mercedes have boxed themselves into a corner; both thought they could jump in, have the best car and glory days would follow. Now they have to see their commitment through or be exposed.

      The interesting thing to note is that Rosberg has actually been pretty disappointing in his race pace compared to his qualifying. He started 7th in Australia and was knocked out after only climbing to 6th. He then qualified in 9th for Malaysia before finishing 12th. In China he led after starting 4th but finished 5th. It’s true he had fuel issues but that same lack of fuel would have benefited his lap times up to that point (less weight) and I doubt he would have been able to hold off Hamilton and Webber anyway and would have beat Vettel and Button on strategy, not raw pace (not that there’s any illegitimacy about that but my point is about his pace). Then on Sunday he qualifies 3rd, gets up to 2nd, finishes 5th, 7 seconds behind a guy who spent the first stint stuck behind his team-mate and lost 13 seconds in a pit-stop and was on the same strategy.

      Where that feeds into things is my earlier comment about the Pirellis being far apart on optimum qualifying and race pace. It seems the Mercedes drivers have the opposite problem. Without his scrap with Petrov and damaging his wing, he could have finished 8th or even 7th or 6th.

      To me both Mercedes drivers have been disappointing in different way, but perhaps really they’re actually finishing where, taking into account the circumstances of the races, they should be and are flattering to deceive on different days.

      1. Webber and Vettel should be the other way round there, of course…

  22. HounslowBusGarage
    11th May 2011, 13:03

    I think it was Enoch Powell who said that all political careers end in failure.
    Unfortunately, some sporting careers do too.
    Schumacher’s not doing his legacy any good, and if he’s no longer enjoying it . . .

  23. Lee Harrison
    11th May 2011, 13:05

    I think certain parts of the media are blowing the whole “big joy” thing out of proportion. What he actually said was “THE big joy” and the the big joy for any sportsman is winning, so of course it isn’t there and of course he isn’t going to be happy about it. Unfortunately for Schumacher like a few races this season his first lap or two has been great and he’s nearly always made places but then he’ll get involved in an incident and it’ll be downhill from there. What he needs is a good clean race like he had at Suzuka last year when he was right on Rosbergs pace.

  24. You may have misunderstood what I tried to say. I agree Schumacher’s failings show it is no longer possible to do this.

    My point about Mansell and Prost was although that they were older drivers they had not been out of the sport for so long (no time at all for Mansell)and so things had not progressed as much in terms of the cars they were driving, and they were able to cope better.

    Don’t forget there has been a massive change in the rules since Schumacher left, which allied to no competitive racing and the fact these new drivers are very quick means he has been left behind.

    The pace of F1 development has moved on massively since Niki Lauda came back and won the title and he was 7 or 8 years younger than Michael anyway

  25. I am big fan of Schumacher. I have been following F1 since 1998 in the era of Schumacher dominance. I am a bit opened about Schu returning to F1. For me he is the only person that can decide what is best for him when he chooses to return to racing. In reality since his return, I think he has lost his speed and his magic. In qualifying rounds he has failed to deliver, not even once. In the race itself he has been going backwards and taking corners in different lines from the others. So I don’t know…. I want see him around but with him struggling I think it is better for him to retire and say “I am done”.

  26. Would anybody else here find it interesting if Paul Di Resta takes his seat mid-season. Michael isn’t what he used to be and never will be. One thing I have to admit is that I like Michael in his second career, one thing I din’t have before. But it is time for him to go. He can stay involved because he is still a genius, but driving is now beyond him.

    Mr Di Resta on the other hand has proved to be very consistant so far and also faster than his team mate apart from the last race. The one thing I have notices about him however is his lack of defending position. But maybe there is logic behind this? He would be the ideal candidate for schumys seat if he does decide to retore though.

    I hope Michael makes the correct decision and doesn’t become an embarrassment to himself, he is bordering that at the moment.

  27. Bartholomew
    11th May 2011, 14:31

    I think he´ll go back to shoemaking.
    When Fast Fred beat him for the title twice in a row that was the end of the Kaiser´s career in driving.

  28. MSC is not that pilot we saw in action between ’91 – ’99 (or even later) anymore. It just cannot be. There’s a different driving style. There are tyres to be considered now. There’s the age. And perhaps the most important thing: the motivation. How eager could be after so many WDC titles? That’s why I don’t understand its comeback.
    But, considering his results so far this season. He seems to improve its lap times during FPs, and stil in qualifying he performs poor. A possible explanation: he is not able to quickly bring tyres in temperature.
    During the race, he behaves even worse. He seems desperate. His behaviour is often unfair. Somehow, he still has talent but it’s not consistent.
    The only good point for him is at start. Perhaps the best pilot on the grid at start.
    Still, the best thing he can do is to retreat as soon as possible.

  29. There are many reasons MS compiled the numbers he did, one of them going back to when Johnny Herbert was his teammate at Benetton and MS insisted on being privy to JH’s data, but it was a one way street and JH has been quoted as saying he was treated like a second class citizen on the team…

    MS’s success has been on the backs of controversial moves with suspected illegal cars, contracted subservients for teammates at Ferrari which gave them the green light to build cars with his style in mind only and no consideration for his teammate’s…someone said that in the same car none of MS’s teammates beat him…that’s because the same car they were driving was designed for MS’s likings, not theirs, and their contracts said they were not to compete against him anyway (see Austria 02 and Reuben’s post race quote that he was just obeying his contract)…

    MS’s numbers show that he was the most advantaged driver in the history of F1…his numbers now prove that without a designer car and a teammate under contract to not be a bother, he is lost…

    It’s not an age thing, it’s not a 3 years out of F1 thing (he’s had plenty of time and all the experts expected him to only need a handful of races last year to get up to speed)…

    MS was never as good as the majority of people think…he was just that heavily advantaged that it was never an apples to apples comparison between him and his teammate and the rest of the grid…so heavily advantaged that he looked like one of the greats…but now his numbers just show that in fact without all the advantages giving him a hand up, he looks ordinary or worse…

    This is why Barichello said, upon news of MS’s return to F1, ‘he has a lot more to lose than he has to gain’…and it is showing itself to be the case…

    I think all these drivers love what they do, but that said it must not be ‘fun’ for any of them who do not have a race winning car under them…combine that with what he had in the past which was way over the top more than any driver has ever had in the history of F1, with the numbers to support that, and I can sure understand he is having no fun being found out…found out to be an ordinary F1 driver when all the ducks aren’t in a row and everything isn’t skewed towards him…there’s no one-way street of data going his way, no contract for NR to be subservient, no bottomless pit of money and testing time and designer tires for his designer car…it’s just him vs. a teammate that is doing better than him, and is allowed to, in a sub top-3 car…

    All foreign territory for MS…and it shows…

    1. Firstly, vanquished teammates are not the best sources of information on Schumacher. (Especially not Johnny Herbert, who was a legend solely in his own mind- and who, incidentally, got demolished by another past Schumacher teammate, Rubens Barrichello, in the same team.)

      There is a reason why Schumacher earned #1 status in his teams. It’s the same reason why he was able to step into a crappy Jordan and qualify 2nd on one of the most car-dependent circuits on the calendar in 1991. It’s the same reason why he stepped into the Benetton in 1991 and out-qualified his tripe-world champion teammate in all but one race the remaining of the year. It’s the same reason why he demolished the field in most wet races and qualifying sessions and why he was able to make crazy strategies like Hungary 1998 and France 2004 work. He was a legendary talent.

      The fact is that, as age increases, reaction time goes the opposite way. You need reaction time most in qualifying- which is where his biggest problems have been. He has had commendable race pace most of the time- when he hasn’t had incidents.

      1. Excuse me, qualify 7th in the Jordan.

      2. And take the John Barnard designed ferrari which many considered a truck to three wins in 96, one of which was the sublime wet weather win in spain. Even Brundle says he considers Michael a driving god some of who’s drives defy belief, and he was one of his team mates.

      3. Exactly – what Robbie says may be true to some extent, but there really should be no doubt to anyone who saw Schumacher race in the 1991-1993 period that he is (was?) really very good. In 1994 I lost a lot of respect for him personally, but as a driver, he was great. Look at some of the races of him battling Senna or Prost, really great to see. Nor should we doubt that he did a great job in his first years at Ferrari to build the team and get results they couldn’t have gotten without him.

    2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtaV_cOGgTM check this video out. I know Herbert were not really a great driver, but it still shows that Schumacher is a seriously good driver. Maybe not as good as the drivers of today, and of cause he will have lost a lot of his precision, but back then he still was one of the best and he did drive him self to the level of dominance he had. It is not like he had the best car though his whole career. When he moved to Ferrari his car was absolute garbage.

      1. Actually JH was once touted as ‘the next Senna’ until he badly broke both his feet in an accident…

        Anyway you are missing the point…doesn’t matter how JH stacked up against MS…we were robbed of ever knowing with a true comparison because JH had to give up his data to MS and MS would not return the favour…it was a one way street just as it was by contract of MS’s teammates to be subservient at Ferrari…ie. MS had already begun beating his teammates simply with off track bullying before they even hit the track…MS was too afraid of going head to head with his teammates and beating them fair and square, or being beaten…

        And gee, fast forward to last year and this when MS no longer has unfair advantages over his teammate, and what do we have?…nough said…

        1. I just don’t think you can compare his performance of his first career and his come back. You can see how sloppy he drives now. Loads of mistakes, not very precise at all.
          Back in the days he was just right on the money, and he drove absolutely flawless.
          Bullying team mates or not he was still an absolutely brilliant driver. You could see that on the track. Look at Alonso, he don’t like competitive team mates either and he does everything to get them out of the way. Yet he is still one of the best drivers on track today.

          1. Mads, I’m not saying MS wasn’t a good driver, but if he was absolutely brilliant he should have been able to beat his teammates fair and square and then he could have held his head high at what would have been much more honourable achievements, rather than shaded ones, embroiled in controversy his whole career…

            And I say the same of FA or anybody else that considers the way to ‘success’ as seeing that your teammate is handcuffed before even getting in his car…kind of takes the spirit of the thing out of it…for me anyway…it might be part of the game, the business, but it’s a dirty part and unfortunate, imho…there’s being one of the best drivers on track, and there’s being one of the best, most honourable drivers on the track…it’s easier to look absolutely brilliant when your teammate is shaded from the same opportunity…

            I like to see teammates duke it out fair and square, especially on a team that is dominant, so that the eventual winner as well as the fans can know that he won by beating the only other driver that had a chance, that being one in the same car…in MS’s case the car was designed for him and his teammates drove the same car…his…under contract to not compete, thus eliminating that huge psychological factor not to mention the physical one on the track that most WDC’s must endure…

            In the MS/Ferrari era we the fans were robbed of true racing in what F1 touts itself as being the pinnacle of racing…and the numbers show it…and MS’s numbers now, prove it…

          2. I agree on that basis.
            I don’t like the way he did it either, and sure it had been more fun to see the team mates be able to compete, but even if they were allowed to i doubt it really had made much difference. Schumacher didn’t have any really great team mates, unlike Senna and Prost, which were absolutely brilliant to watch (not that i was around back then, but i have watched enough footage from back then to know a little bit), but i just don’t think that even if his team mates were allowed to do anything that it would have changed much. He was still ultimately a better driver then they were.
            But i agree it didn’t suit him to be favored like that, but i don’t think all of it were his “fault”, for instance with the car, we all know that he was absolutely great at giving feedback to the designers and he was a lot into the design process, and surely the designers are going to listen to the best, most successful of their drivers, especially when he gives them the best feedback on what is good to drive with and what is not.

          3. I agree mostly with Mads’ post. It would have been more entertaining to watch MS and Barrichello properly duke it out, but not much would have changed statistically or otherwise.

            Simply, MS is sloppy compared to before not because he never was worthy of 7 titles, but because he isn’t as precise as he was with his driving.

            Controversies only “embroiled” a relatively small part of his success. It’s annoying when people take an incident, and pretend that most of his wins were because he rammed someone or because someone let him through.

    3. ROBBIE: You have it absolutely correct and saved me a lot of typing.
      I also think that Ferrari are finding it very difficult to keep up and we’ll see them slowly fall into mid field without that special help from the FIA, assuming it doesn’t return.
      LDM is crapping himself about the new regs because he knows they can’t compete unless they have FIA help and able to throw obscene amounts of money at it including testing on there own track.
      Unlike some others on here I would like to see MS stay even longer than the three years he signed for, reinforcing the fact is not and never was the great Champion many claim, gives me a laugh every race.

      1. Unlike some others on here I would like to see MS stay even longer than the three years he signed for, reinforcing the fact is not and never was the great Champion many claim, gives me a laugh every race.

        His seven titles won’t ever disappear, as much as you’d like that to happen.

        1. In a world of overated sportsmen schuey delivered the goods practicaly every fortnight even when he did not win he pulled something out of the bag.
          If you are passionate about this sport you can apreciate his genius.

        2. I see it this way…MS’s time at Benetton was controversial on several counts…JH’s comments that he was treated like a second class citizen having to give up his data to help MS with setups…the proven illegalities that were penalized, and the suspected one’s…the hit on DH for the WDC…

          And then the move to Ferrari…everyone seems to forget to ask why he, as the reigning WDC, would go to a team that hadn’t won a WDC in 16 years…answer…Max wanted a new chapter in F1 after the transitional chapter that should have happened, that being MS vs. Senna(the last iconic driver from his era of the 80’s), couldn’t happen because of AS’s death…so the reigning WDC with all that ‘success’ at Benetton suddenly moves to a losing team?

          Mega money, mega subservient contract for his teammates (EI and RB were compliant and were never going to get to Ferrari any other way), an exodus of a lot of MS’s support crew from Benetton to Ferrari along with him, and a blind eye to MS’s unethical behaviour and thus the road was paved for MS to end the Ferrari WDC drought…

          Aside from the fact that there were multiple controversial incidents by MS, I’ve never tried to claim that all his races were won either by hitting someone or by someone letting him through for the win…however all his career at Ferrari was controversial in that his teammates were contracted to not compete which was unprecedented in F1, so they designed the car and tires for him with no regard for his teammates, also unprecedented in F1, especially when it was season after season…a permanent team order if you will…so while all other drivers had to concern themselves with their teammates first and foremost, not wanting to be outdone by them let alone the rest of the field, rather MS had that aspect of the equation removed, and he gained a rear gunner to boot…EI was known more for holding other cars back in races after having tried to disrupt their qualifying efforts on Saturday, in order to aid MS…

          The fact that MS took all this that was given to him by Max and Bernie to create a new chapter post-Senna and end the Ferrari WDC drought, and still felt the need to be an unethical boor on the track, is shameful…

          So before you claim that it wouldn’t have mattered who MS’s teammates were, he would have trounced them anyway, I say you are looking at it in hindsight…give said drivers the same opportunity (or better yet given MS WDC level teammates ala Senna/Prost or Hamilton/Button), a car more suited for both drivers not just MS, a contract that allowed them to compete thus rattling MS’s cage throughout the seasons, and I think we would have seen a far different career from MS, one that far more resembles that which he is going through now than one where everything was skewed so far toward him that many drivers could have achieved similar record breaking numbers under the same circumstances…only most other drivers would not have also felt the need to be so boorish on the track to boot…

          MS’s 7 WDC’s won’t ever disappear, nor will the asterisk besides said WDC’s that consider the circumstances under which he won those WDC’s, dishonourably imho…what also won’t disappear is his return to F1 and what that has brought without all that favoured him in the past…oh, the unethical behaviour is still there, but that’s about all…

          His age? That should only be costing him a few tenths at most…his experience should be making up for that…

          It all comes down to MS being artificially pumped up for a new chapter in F1 post-Senna, the artificial numbers have now been compiled and will likely never be beaten unless the governing body cares to create a new chapter again at some point in the future, and now the circumstances are real for MS, and so are the numbers…I’m not saying MS wouldn’t have had some real success had not everything been manipulated for him to end the Ferrari drought, but at least under real circumstances and without the unethical behaviour I would have been able to honour any success of his, even being a much lesser portion of what it ended up being…

          1. And then the move to Ferrari…everyone seems to forget to ask why he, as the reigning WDC, would go to a team that hadn’t won a WDC in 16 years

            Answer- he paid a truckload of money by Ferrari, and also saw a challenge and decided to accept it.

            Mega money, mega subservient contract for his teammates (EI and RB were compliant and were never going to get to Ferrari any other way), an exodus of a lot of MS’s support crew from Benetton to Ferrari along with him, and a blind eye to MS’s unethical behaviour and thus the road was paved for MS to end the Ferrari WDC drought…

            As it’s been pointed out, RB and EI had nothing in their contracts about any of that. The mega money argument is poor- Toyota, Honda, BMW and Mclaren-Mercedes had similarly large budgets. Schumacher ended the drought in 2000 not by hitting a Williams, but by defeating Hakkinen fair and square over a long and tough season.

            EI was known more for holding other cars back in races after having tried to disrupt their qualifying efforts on Saturday, in order to aid MS…

            Don’t know which sessions you were watching.

            I say you are looking at it in hindsight…give said drivers the same opportunity (or better yet given MS WDC level teammates ala Senna/Prost or Hamilton/Button), a car more suited for both drivers not just MS, a contract that allowed them to compete thus rattling MS’s cage throughout the seasons, and I think we would have seen a far different career from MS

            You can’t exactly blame Schumacher for Ferrari not hiring another WDC level driver. The team, especially one like Ferrari is always bigger than the driver. If MS threw his toys out of the pram because they signed a WDC, they would have sacked him. They chose not to sign one, and in the end Schumacher dominated the people he was given to deal with. It is only in hindsight that one could imagine JH, EI and RB rattling MS.

            MS’s 7 WDC’s won’t ever disappear, nor will the asterisk besides said WDC’s that consider the circumstances under which he won those WDC’s, dishonourably imho…what also won’t disappear is his return to F1 and what that has brought without all that favoured him in the past…oh, the unethical behaviour is still there, but that’s about all…

            Again, total exaggeration. I can fully understand an “asterisk” being next to the 1994 title. Even though MS went some way to make up for it with a brilliant 1995 championship. The other 5 titles came because he extracted the maximum from his car.

            And not every sentence needs ellipses.

    4. Robbie I think you have seen a different driver than I did for all those years.

      Schumacher was pretty much getting the better of Senna at the start of ’94, just like we saw Alonso do to Schumacher in 2006.

      And Rubens has always denied, that he explicitly signed up to being the no. 2 driver, even if it was clear he was in that role.

      And Schumachers contribution to building back Ferrari to a winning team was very large. I would think he was really looking forward to it as a challenge, not something orchestrated by Mosley and Bernie (not saying they disapproved the move though).

      To me Schumacher has not lost all that much by getting back in the car. He has certainly gained back some respect (lost after 95, 97 etc.) from fans as well.

      Sure, he is not on top of it for various reasons. Those 3 years out are probably just too much for a 42 year old in a sport with as high level of competition as the current field offers.
      Schumacher underestimated that, but he did know he would not have a no.1 status by default.

      1. Fair comment BasCB…nothing you have said has dissuaded me from my opinion, and many see it your way, but many see it my way too…

        In 94 AS was bettering MS in quali, but things were working out better for MS in the races (we now know that may have been down to some illegalities with the Benetton)…many felt that given more time AS would have sorted things out at Williams and bested MS that year, but we will never know…we learned that Benetton was using illegal refuelers that gave a big advantage in pit stops, so the jury is truly out as to what would have happened had AS not died…not to mention it did come down to a Williams driver and MS and MS had to whack DH for the win, so it is probably not a huge stretch to imagine AS would have done better by then than DH and even an MS whack on AS wouldn’t have been enough by that point in time…

        Throughout the years RB has both denied and admitted his status on the team…denied at times when he was towing the Ferrari party line, and admitted his status at other times, the most blatant example being the post race interview at Austria 02 when after letting MS take the ‘win’ with metres to go RB said to the world he was ‘just obeying his contract’…doesn’t really matter if the contract stated explicitely ‘you will not compete against MS’, or ‘you will help him at all costs’…it is the spirit of the thing and as you point out it was clear he was in that role…and my issue has never been with a driver who has to default to that role once the season is winding down and the math simply dictates that one driver should not take points away from another on the team who has a legitimate WDC shot…my problem at Ferrari is that MS’s teammates never had a legitimate shot, by contract, from race 1 of every season…that to me is not racing in the pinnacle of racing, and thus I saw a different driver all those years…a heavily advantaged one, not one that was earning it honourably on the track, which is the aspect that we the viewing audience are tuned into, but with boardroom stuff that decides things off the track ahead of time…

        MS’s contribution at Ferrari no doubt was huge…that’s what he was placed there for…only an idiot would take the huge unprecedented paycheck, the unprecedented subservient teammate, the FIA and Max’s orchestration of the whole thing with the desire to end the Ferrari WDC drought, and not delve fully into that and if not for all the effort that was behind him but even for himself not try to make the car, one built for him after all, into a winner…he left a winner and went to a dog…he had no choice but to build that which he was put there to build…he wasn’t about to say after a year or two, you know what, forget the mega everything that has been put in my lap, I’m going elsewhere…he was made an instant Ferrari lifer with that deal…

        MS has not gained back any respect from me…he had a small chance to, had he come out and in a small number of races started besting NR without a subservient contract and a designer car on a team that was not getting veto power on rule changes with 3 seats on the board to every other team’s one, nor an extra 100 mill a year just because they were Ferrari…but instead MS has shown me that in fact he needed all those advantages in the past for his ‘success’, and once they aren’t there neither is he, and yet there’s still that nasty component of the unethical behaviour that has always been a huge turnoff for me…and still is…I thought he would at least come back more humble…in hindsight, I shouldn’t have even given him that much credit…even this very most recent race MS was ‘surprised’ at the contact between he and Petrov and considered it ‘mostly’ his own fault…

        1. Just to be clear I didn’t mean to imply this past weekend’s contact with Petrov was unethical on MS’s part…it was purely an amateurish mistake…but his comment on it was as usual disingenuine…he still couldn’t allow the words out of his mouth ‘that was completely my fault and my apologies to Petrov’…that, I could have respected…

          1. @ David A…by all accounts when it was suggested to MS that he go to Ferrari from Benetton he questioned why he would go to those red cars that he was always passing in his Benetton, so I don’t really believe that he just decided to go for the sake of a challenge…his insistance on a one way street on his teams would indicate he prefers to eliminate challenge, not invite it…

            EI and RB both admitted having contracts, and all one has to do is listen again to the post-race interview with RB at Austria 02 and he tells the world he was just obeying his contract, so it’s not like I’ve pulled this out of my hat…are you suggesting RB was lying?

            The mega money argument is not poor, it is a fact. Just because other teams have spent large amounts of money does not mean Ferrari didn’t throw their bottomeless pit of money at MS, for a decade, and the huge salary they paid him along with a subservient teammate, along with the extra 100 mill FIA/F1 paid Ferrari just because they are Ferrari didn’t hurt, and ensured MS would be a lifer, and wouldn’t think of straying.

            As to MS ending the Ferrari drought in 2000 against Hakkinen, ‘fair and square’ as you say, this is where I vehemently disagree…leading up to that year they had invested mega money over 5 years developing a designer car and tires for MS, and he didn’t have a teammate to worry about that year as well as the years previous, so it is hardly fair and square when MS won in an apples to oranges arrangement that saw him more advantaged than any other driver in the history of F1.

            MS extracted the maximum from his car because massive effort went into his car because the FIA wanted him to end the Ferrari drought.

  30. Schumi just retire now. Simply so that we can watch Hulkenberg in a Mercedes!

  31. It’s not his pace that makes me sad, it’s his driving style. He still thinks he can get away with the pushing and shoving he used to do.

    Last year he did it countless times, running people off the track & sending Barrichello centimetres from a pit wall. He’s still doing it this year. Driving into the back of cars, pushing Kobayashi onto the grass at full speed.

    The man has no respect for the other drivers it seems. You don’t see Rosberg desperately trying to shove people off the track. His results speak for themselves, Schumachers dirty tricks not only push him back, but they show that his tactics are those of a desperate man.

    1. Actually I noticed during Massa’s fight with Rosberg that at one point Massa had the line for Turn 11, left Rosberg the width before Nico turning into Massa and barging him off the apex of 12 and claiming the place back. Hamilton I think also said Nico’s defending was a little suspect in China. I don’t think Rosberg is as clean as he’s made out to be but then I don’t have a problem with Nico’s level of aggression.

  32. I think there are a number of factors here, many are already made above: age, changes to Formula 1 with testing, tyres, refuelling and so forth. One that has not been mentioned (and it has a particular connection with Schumacher and Vettel’s relative lack of ability of over-taking) is just how close all the cars are in their form.

    The gap between a ‘lucky fourth’ and ‘down and out in fourteenth’ is not so great. The mid-field teams – Sauber, Renault and Mercedes – are hot on the heels of Ferrari and McLaren, and most of the rest of the field aren’t too far behind.

    The gap between the teams was considerably more marked during most of Schumacher’s career – even when coming up through the grid, his car was no match for the back-end and mid-field teams.

  33. what is more important the driver of the car?

    For me there are two types of drivers, the ones that can be competitive even in a bad car, and the ones that can be only competitive in a superior car.

    Schumacher is clearly a case of good driver that happend to be in the right team at the right moment, and that was able to ride a evolutionary wave, that transformed Ferrari in the leading car for several years, reason why he has 7 championships ( i think that he was the only to finsh in the same lap).

    We have now a new case: Vetter and RB. Will he be able to get 7 championships? Maybe not as the rules are changing faster nowadays, but it will certainly be champion from in 2011 and 2012.

    1. Schumacher was able to be competitive in a bad car so he was a bit of both really. And especially when it was wet. He really excelled in bad conditions.

  34. This is a fitting article for me because this was the race that I officially gave up on Michael. As a former fan who witnessed his former glory I kept, nervously, holding out hope that his greatness would rise again. Nope. It’s not there anymore.

    His comeback is a complete failure and frankly makes me quite upset at him for attempting, and sullying his great record.

    I have friends who are newer F1 fans and never really saw Michael race in the past. They think of him as an arrogant, flailing, mistake-prone, and weak driver. “What’s the big deal about this guy? I just don’t see it.” is there reaction.

    Sad, sad, sad.

    1. Gary Yogurt
      11th May 2011, 18:31

      I agree 100%, and I am new to F1 as of last season. Although I’ve followed news of the sport in the past, I can only witness Schumacher’s greatness through highlight videos and retrospectives. I completely respect him and I genuinely wanted him to be major competitor when I watched my first complete F1 race. (Bahrain 2010.) It’s sad that the human body tends to degrade faster than the drive to push it. Schumacher is no exception. I’m a hopeless romantic in many ways and still secretly hope to see a podium before he retires.

    2. Icemangrins
      11th May 2011, 20:31

      newer F1 fans think he is arrogant… ever since he came back, he never stopped smiling man :-)

    3. So, “can’t win don’t try” is the message you want to teach your kids is it?

  35. The bulk of his success came with the help of a huge Ferrari wallet. Now, when the teams are on more even terms, he is toast.

    1. Toyota, BAR/Honda, Mclaren and BMW backed Williams had huge wallets as well. Schumacher and Ferrari burnt them all by being the best.

      1. Especially Toyota. They outspent Ferrari for a few seasons in the mid 2000’s. And not even one win to show for it.

    2. Double World Champion with Benetton, on one occasion with a Ford V8 Engine rebadged as Playlife. You can’t tell me it was all about Ferrari’s big budget.

  36. Wow, I knew things were bad but not THAT bad. He had his best chance at a podium in the weekend just gone and he blew it, by his own admission. Starting to think Di Resta will make that step sooner than we thought…pending decent results at Force India.

  37. Pfft, a hefty topic.. And a discussion i didn’t expect to see at the start of the season!
    In my opinion, with the last quali, Schuey was going rather strong, but in the Q3 he did a short run. That created a lower tyre temperature and obviously that’s still his weak spot at the moment. He lost out big time to Rosberg.. But how is that possible? Is Nico so good? or has Michael really lost it?
    His start was fabulous and won a spot, went on strong but hit Petrov ( the giant killer.. ;-) ) But else, still lost out on Rosberg?! He really had some bad luck in races with some wings hit off, more than any other in the field. For me it proves he’s still agressive and a faster driver through a corner than some others. But what is missing?

    I am really flabbergasted and hopefull Michael can turn the form, maybe his luck needs to change, would that be enough?

    I think so, and i hope dearly that it isn’t wishfull thinking. I don’t want to see a winning streak, but just a big champion fighting for podium finishes. Nico is a great guy, but come on Michael, drive your balls off.. (please!)

  38. I expected this article from Keith. I was hoping though, that when he did write it he would look beyond the obvious. Schumacher’s practice form has been improving. You’d think that, while that hasn’t translated to points, it is indicative of improved form. Kind of like a cricketer who’s been batting well in the nets, a big score is just around the corner for them. But no mention or analysis of Schumacher’s practice pace.

    1. no mention or analysis of Schumacher’s practice pace.

      Without knowing a driver’s fuel loads, what tyres they were running and all the differences in specification and set-up between their car and their team mates, you can’t even begin to draw meaningful conclusion about driver performance from practice. You might as well say I haven’t taken his form in testing into account.

      They give out grid places on Saturday and points on Sunday, and that’s all that counts.

      1. And someone’s race can be spoilt by accident or car failure. It may be all that counts in terms of points, but it isn’t the best way of trying to figure out if Schumacher is any closer to reversing his form.

        You could at least analyse final qualifying positions? Or better still, look at Q1, Q2 and Q3 independently. The drivers are trying to do the same thing there.

        Nico and Micheal have typically completed the sessions doing similar things in terms of testing and strategy, so I think comparing their relative practice form is useful.

        The best analysis would be this: Look at the difference in their best time in each session as a percentage. Plot them on one graph with time on the x-axis. Colour code the different sessions, even make them selectable if you like.

        That would show us if there is any real improvement trend. I’d do it myself if I wasn’t busy trying to get a grant up to study the atmosphere of Venus, and organise a motor racing state title at the same time.

        You’ve got all the data and tools you need at your finger tips, but your article was just repeating the same things we’ve already heard and your analysis was rudimentary.

        If you do a thorough analysis and publish that I would be interested. And I could be convinced one way or the other, but as it is it’s just opinion, and from other things you’ve done I know you can do better than that.

        1. And someone’s race can be spoilt by accident or car failure.

          Of course, but the same goes for Rosberg. And I don’t think anyone is going to pretend it’s the main cause of Schumacher’s deficit to Rosberg in their 23 races together as team mates.

          You could at least analyse final qualifying positions? Or better still, look at Q1, Q2 and Q3 independently.

          See: 2011 F1 statistics: Qualifying

          I’m afraid I don’t understand how your proposed analysis works or what you think it would show.

          1. I just want to compare Rosberg and Schumacher’s times for every session.

            What I think I’ve observed recently is that Michael is doing better at everything but final qualifying. Which tells me his form is improving but he’s got something technical to work on in qualifying. Which is very different to just not having the pace any more.

            But I could be wrong about that.

            The way to test it is:

            1. take Michael’s best time in a session and divide it by Rosberg’s, multiply it by 100 to give a percentage.

            2. Plot this percentage on a graph with Grand Prix along the x-axis.

            3. If the session is FP1 plot it in red, if it is FP2 plot it in orange, FP3 yellow, Q1 blue, Q2 aqua, Q3 green and the race in black (or pick your own colours).

            Ok, now with all that on the same graph, I can see if MS’s form compared to NR’s has improved in any of the sessions, if there is a trend I’ll be able to see it. I’ll also be able to tell if there is an overall trend.

            If there is an improvement in the FP sessions and the race but not the Qs that would tell me he was getting his pace back but was doing something fundamentally wrong in qualifying.

            If he’s closer to Rosberg in qualifying on the whole, but no good in the race, that would tell me he can’t sustain speed any longer and is only good over a lap.

            In other words, doing the analysis I suggest will help us pinpoint exactly what Michael’s issue is, and whether he is improving at all. He might be going backwards, I need to see the analysis.

          2. I’ve already explained why I’m not comparing practice times to assess driver performance.

            And the qualifying times quoted do take Q1, Q2 and Q3 into consideration (see the link I posted in my previous comment for an explanation).

          3. Ok, I’ll take a look at the link.

            There is an easy way to tell if you are right about the FP times being meaningless btw.

            Plot FP position at each grand prix and Q position on the same graph for each driver.

            If the FP sessions give no indication of pace then it will look like a complete scatter-gun, if they give some indication you will see their Q position be higher on average when their FP position is higher.

            I agree that FP times are less indicative of pace in general than Q times, but just because the correlation is weaker doesn’t mean that it’s non-existant, nor that you can’t learn anything from it if you are careful. (I’m a scientist I do this type of stuff for a living.)

        2. Still, even if Schumacher would be beating Rosberg every session until Q2 that he gets stuck in but Rosberg doesn’t, at every race, what does that say? For some reason he can’t do it when it counts, which is very different from how he did before he stopped, when you always knew that Schumacher would be likely to pull something extra out when it counted, including in the races.

          1. It says there is something technical he needs to work on rather than he is slow and a lost cause.

  39. The decline that led Michael Schumacher to retire hasn’t been reversed. This is a driver who looks uncomfortable in the car and struggles when the racing gets tough. Nico Rosberg kept his cool as his car lost tyre performance, adapted his driving and brought the car home. Michael lost his head, caused an accident and compromised his race. He’s currently the second-best driver in the fourth-best team.

  40. Fully aware of the amount of times I’ve already posted on this article, but…

    Go to the the race analysis page and find the graph that has the drivers’ laptimes. Clear it, then click two drivers: Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button. They were effectively both on the same strategy apart from Schumacher’s early trip after hitting Petrov, both using the same amount of soft and hard tyres. Their pace was actually really close, almost 50/50 by the naked eye.

    His racecraft is a criticism no-one can sweep under the carpet. But his pace is far from what the result suggests.

    1. Pace is no good without racecraft though. Bottom line, you must deliver the results. If you’re not delivering, it doesn’t matter why or how, you still need to deliver.

      Agree with most folks’ comment as well on qualifying pace being his Achilles heel right now. It was never his strongest suit (68 poles or not), and it’s not gotten better.

      As some folks here would know, I’m a HUGE MSC fan and I’m sad it looks like the skeptics got it right. I wasn’t so keen on him coming back (it always looked like a bad idea), but a loyal fan supports his man all the way. I will say this: never, ever write him off. It’s all a matter of momentum – one podium can change everything. That said, no one can guarantee he’ll get there…

  41. When he came back in F1 everyone had a wish that he will produce something.On the first things weren’t good except for a good drive in Spain,Turkey,Japan & Korea.But this year he is struggling.Many want to see him fight back but he just can’t for some reason.In many years of Schumacher I have never seen him lacking self motivation as that was his strong point in his old days.He need to keep things calm.I want him to finish the three years in F1,though if he says that he don’t enjoy things as he did in the past then I think it’s better to retire as it’s pointless for him to race if he feel that he can’t win & fight for the WC.

  42. Sergio Perez
    12th May 2011, 4:07

    I’ve seen Schumacher race since the younger years, back in F3. Like every great F1 story, he started to excel in karting and in F3, he met his nemesis of the era, a gentleman called Mika Hakkinen. Search for Macau Grand Prix Schumacher vs Hakkin and witness the beginning of a rivalry that was the most exciting of the 90’ies. However, that race was the first time I saw Schumacher’s “other” side. The problem with Schumacher compared to the all time greats is, like many have said over here, his “everything is fair to get victory” attitude. Adelaide 1994, Villeneuve 1997, parking the car in qualifying in Monaco… This is complete unsportsmanship, its winning at all costs, not winning by skill. Senna, my all time favourite, was a determined racer. But you never saw anything like it from the likes of Senna. The Prost Vs Senna situation had a big political subcontext that finally someone put it clear on film in the ” Senna” movie.

    Schumacher’s attitude is still the same on track. The “fire” and desire to win is still there, as well as the ” all is fair” approach. But I have to agree with fellow fanatics when they say the new generation is just better. The likes of Hamilton, Vettel, Rosberg, Kobayashi and Alonso (Who already beat Schumacher when he was “the Schumacher” ) are in a different league. In fact, even Alonso can’t beat the likes of Hamilton and Vettel with similar paced cars, so a Schumacher that couldn’t beat a Fernando Alonso driving a Benetton will hardly be able to get there.

    I was also feeling unconfortable with Schumacher’s performances last year- I wanted the man to be beaten for the top spot at the podium, but not being the midfield disgrace he’s now. But his recent race antics just reminded me why I disliked him as a driver in the first place. Alonso took his place as the big ” Villain” of the F1 plot of this generation from Schumacher, for me, as an audience. Every F1 generation needs this type of character- an antagonist that we dislike but is incredibly strong. This makes the victories from the ones we support much more rewarding!

  43. For guys that think Alonso beat Schumacher.
    In 2005, Ferrari was a poor car compared with Renault, and even compared with cars in the platoon. You may look for Alonso’s flight paths in 2005; they are simply rookie paths. It was 100% Renault desert in 2006, not Alonso’s.
    Next, in 2006, Ferrari had some improvement. In fact in 2006 MSC was able to fight with ALO and the fight was very tight. Not to mention that MSC had failures in 4 races that year (true, Alonso also had some failures). But, the Renault was still better than Ferrari in 2006.
    I admit, by far, the worse MSC feature is his notorious lack of fair play. He is definitely the most unfair driver F1 ever. But strictly speaking about talent, he was (not he is) one of the best pilots F1 ever had – togehter with great names like Senna, Mansell, Prost, Clark, Lauda, Hakkinen, and so on.

    1. Sergio Perez
      12th May 2011, 9:04

      I agree with you Daniel. Schumacher was (is?) one of the most determined drivers in the grid- a driver that didn’t live by his talent alone, but truly understood F1- he helped develop the car, knew a LOT about the technical aspects of the sport, and according to many reports, was one of the drivers that took the fitness aspect of the driver to another level. But even by having 7 world Championships, Schumacher will never be in the league of the Fangio and Senna. Gehard Berger and other teammates always talk fondly of Senna (excluding obviously Prost), but what do Schumacher teammates have to say about Schumacher?

      Not to say, however, that Schumacher is a bad person, far from it. Out of the race track, Michael Schumacher, the man, is a humanitarian, supports charities, helps many people in need. Schumacher the driver, however, with his everything is fair for victory attitude is what puts him bellow that step of the all time greats. But history will still say he was a 7 time world champion, long past I’m gone from this world. And probably that’s what matters, in the end. Will there ever be a Schumacher, the movie?

      1. Well, there might be a movie – it could be a great tragedy of sorts, with a nice catharsis :-p

        I do think that Herbert is very bitter by the way, and Irvine is a bit of a trouble seeker; Massa is much more positive about Schumacher though; but yes, even Verstappen (who is a friend of Schumacher) says that teammates were always a distant second for the team learders.

      2. I dont think you can seperate Senna and Schumacher in terms of being ruthless, controling team mates or speed. Senna definatley had more carisma though and is no longer with us, the combination of these two things seem to cancel out all of his negatives.
        I remember mansell recounting a conversation he had on the podium with Senna after Mansell winning the wdc, Senna leaned over and said “its a great feeling isnt it Nigel now you know why i’m such a *******”, or words to that effect.

  44. I was never a big fan of Schumacher and always was of the opinion that his success at Ferrari had more to do with the Todt/Brawn combination than the driver himself. All is left now of his former glory are his mean tricks on the track and his arrogance out of it. I can’t feel sad for him but I regret that the second seat at Mercedes doesn’t go to a better driver. So much money wasted on what is now a third grade driver.

  45. I am always content seeing MSC on the screen. That’s why I have been supporting him in any way. Never give in and give up. No less we fight in the sterner days.

  46. Keith,

    Have you read this article? http://plus.autosport.com/premium/feature/3499/why-schumacher-not-done-yet/

    Basically, it shows that if you discount what happened with Petrov, Schumacher had a better race in Turkey than Button.

    After the accident, both were on effectively a 3 stop strategy (remember Schumacher put the softs he used in the first stint back on the car). And from that point on Schumacher actually gained on Button despite having to drive through more traffic.

    1. Believe me when I say I’ve never needed convincing of Michael Schumacher’s potential! But what he needs is results.

      If he can translate that into results in the coming races then perhaps at the end of the year we’ll be looking back on this race as a turning point. But we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

  47. Harry Palmer
    13th May 2011, 12:27

    Good Point DVC, Schumi’s overall pace was absolutely fine at the weekend given the strategy he ended up on, yet plenty of people chose to ignore that because the end result was a finish outside the points. Yes, results are important but so is ‘context’.

    The BBC salivated over every pass that was made on him, ignoring the fact that cars were making passes left right and centre – 126 times if I recall correctly – yet somehow a few DRS assisted passes on Schumi were evidence that he had lost it and should give serious thoughts to quitting! They also ignored the passes he made – after the race Jake showed DC a replay of Michael passing Alguersuari which he claimed ‘not to have seen before’, or chose to ignore, despite commentating on the race.

    I was disappointed that he didn’t make it into the points but I didn’t think he had a bad race as such so I was slightly bemused at the reaction from EJ, DC and the press generally after the race. Sure, I would like to see more from him and I hope he shows improved results soon but

    I agree with Keith that this race may well end up being a turning point but I’m not unduly concerned with this season so far. He was unlucky in Australia when the Toro Rosso ruined his race, Quali was compromised in Shanghai and Malaysia though he raced well and in Turkey he showed good pace but was hampered in terms of overall strategy and track position by the early collision with Petrov. If he can get th tyres working in Q3 and has a little more luck in the race I’m sure he will have much better results in the race to come.

  48. Harry Palmer
    13th May 2011, 12:30

    * Please ignore the superfluous ‘but’ at the end of the third paragraph!

    1. Harry Palmer
      13th May 2011, 15:10

      Actually the whole last sentence in the 3rd paragraph is out of place… too much copying and pasting as I changed the order of what I was typing!

  49. Back in 2006 I felt sorry for Schumacher. After all he had done at Ferrari, after all he had achieved in ten years with the team, he found himself surplus to requirements. When the Kimi Raikkonen/Ferrari relationship started to sour, some, myself included, highlighted Ferrari’s decision to let Michael go. I don’t believe that it was ‘his’ decision alone to quit in 2006, but then maybe Ferrari saw a change in Michael none of us did?
    The Schumacher of today is nothing like the one of old. But then again, neither is Formula One like it was, even by 2006 standards. It begs the question, was Schumacher wrong to return? I don’t think he was, if it felt like the right thing for him to do. It certainly garnered more interest in the sport in a way that only a select few drivers in the world could do. However, one must highlight the huge gamble Schumacher made by returning.
    He came back to the sport as a seven time world champion, with ninety one grands prix victories under his belt. No driver since 1950 or indeed before has amassed such credentials, yet the pressure and expectation for Michael to ‘pick up where he left off’ must have been huge. When he was winning, at almost ease and will, it was almost routine. A bad result for Schumacher in 2004 or 2002 would have been a second or a third place it seemed, that is the level with which we became accustomed.
    I remember Aryton Senna, in the last two years of his life, driving a McLaren not a patch on his 1991 championship winning car. You could see the frustration on his face, this was a man who expected to be at the front and competing for the world championship, not one or two points here and there. And, ofcourse, that is what the fans expected aswell.
    The big difference with Michael is his age and the fact that the younger drivers are just not intimidated by him like drivers used to be. To them, he is just another car to pass, another backmarker. I think, when he has time to reflect, it maybe a wise decision to quit come season’s end.

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