Sunday, December 13, 2009

Michael Schumacher coming back?

With the FIA and Formula One entering a new era with new rules, a new president in Jean Todt and an influx of new teams, there is a weird sort of comfort that there is a strong possibility that 7 time World Champion Michael Schumacher may make his Formula One return to the Mercedes F1 team (2009 Constructor champions formerly known as Brawn GP).

Schuamcher retired in 2006 demonstrating that he was still at the top of his game with one of the legendary drives during the Brazilian Grand Prix, knifing through the field fighting back to 4th place after having a tire puncture. In July 2009, after the unfortunate and life-threatening crash suffered by Ferrari's Felipe Massa, Schumacher agreed to come out of retirement to replace Massa until he was fit enough to return. However, this attempt was aborted in August as Schumacher had a pre-existing neck injury he suffered racing motorcycles that was not fully healed. Alas, what might have been.

However, this brings us to the current rumor and speculation. It is reported in the German Newspaper, Bild, that a deal had been agreed for Schumacher's return. Although Bild did not quote any sources, it is reported that a one-year deal has been agreed to and that a contract will be signed and ready for an announcement next week.

Now I am not the biggest Schumacher supporter by any stretch, but I can not tell you what sort of boost this would be to F1. A true living legend not far removed from his peak returning to a new team to face very stiff competition in the likes of Alonso (now at Ferrari), Hamilton (McLaren), and Vettel (Red Bull).

It certainly reminds me of Alain Prost's consideration of an offer from Jean Todt to return to Ferrari and partner (oddly enough) Schumacher for 1996...out of the sport a few years, doing consultancy and driving work for a Formula One team, and approximate age. There would have been great speculation on whether Prost would match Schumacher in 1996. Ultimately, this was the determining factor for Prost; In his words, "I was ready to return to the wheel, and I would have done it, but people would have tried to play us against each other, and at that time I wouldn't have stood a chance against him."

I think the difference here is that Schumacher is still hungry in my opinion to prove his level, even if it is for a short period. Although Prost had the speed, he no longer had the hunger to deal with the F1 circus from the driver cockpit.

So, the next logical question if it is true he is back is what sort of performance can we expect? He will be 41 in 2010 with a new team and new rules. Personally, I would simply say this: I would love to have him back and I expect a few wins from him with a World Driver's Championship points finish in the top 4.


ChiliN. said...

Hi Pete, I am glad to see you chose to continue your excellent blog!

Schumacher's return would certainly be a boost to F1. Already earlier this season, when it was announced that he would replace Massa at Ferrari, that news garnered much more interest than BMW's announcement of retiring from the sport!

But it will depend on his results whether that boost will be temporary or permanent. Making a comeback at that age, after so many years of not participating and having a problematic neck, it won't be easy. The cruel fact is that unless you get results in F1, you will be forgotten. Even if your name is Michael Schumacher.

But if he really chooses to come back to F1, I wish him all the best! It would be fun to see the "grandpa" beating the youngsters.

Pete DaSilva said...

Thank you Chili. It was awesome to see everyone whipped into a frenzy. I certainly was; definitely very curious to see how he would manage.

I agree. If he does not get back on form, he will quickly become a secondary story.

However, with no refueling and a change in tires I think that his outright experience and skills will help temper or mask any potential drop in speed. As I say in the posting, I am expecting him to a be a race winner in 2010 if he returns.