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Reaction to Schumacher’s decision to call off his comeback
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Reaction to Schumacher’s decision to call off his comeback
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Aug 2009   |  5:21 pm GMT  |  24 comments

News Digest by Lawrence Barretto

Just two weeks after announcing a shock comeback to Formula One, Michael Schumacher pulled off another surprise yesterday by calling the whole thing off.

The German held a press conference this morning where he expressed his disappointment at not being able to race for Ferrari at next weekend’s European Grand Prix in Valencia. Ultimately, he simply couldn’t risk his health.

Some in the media questioned the reasons behind Schumacher’s comeback with The Guardian suggesting medical reasons weren’t the only factors in him deciding to pull out of his comeback. “Only Michael Schumacher knows if the biggest hurt during a comeback would have been to his neck or his pride.”

Four-time world champion Alain Prost sympathised but echoed those thoughts. “If there was any physical risk, Schumacher was right,” the Prost told French newspaper Le Parisien. “It remains to be seen if Schumacher stopped solely because of the health problem, or because when he resumed driving he realised that the task was enormous.

“He has not started in F1 for three years and only had three weeks to prepare. The body changes very quickly when you stop racing, a driver does not react the same way and the vision is not as sharp. When I returned in 1993 after eight months it was very difficult to find the best level, Schumacher may need more time.”

However the German’s brother Ralf told German newspaper Bild that he supported the move. “It is of course a great shame, but if Michael and the doctors make the decision it is the right decision.

“If something had happened the risk would have been much greater. Fractures in the vertebrate are not something to be dismissed lightly.”

Meanwhile, Schumacher’s former team boss Eddie Jordan rued the German’s decision to race motorcycles after his Formula 1 career. “What was he thinking with the bikes?” asked the Irishman in an interview with BBC’s TalkSport programme.

“He had rocks in his head. Lance Armstrong wouldn’t compete in the Tour de France if he wasn’t 100 per cent fit, and Schumacher is exactly the same – but I am surprised it has taken this long [for him to decide].”

The Sun believes that the biggest loser in all this is the fans and the sport. “Schuey’s surprise return was seen as a major boost to F1 in a scandal-ridden season dominated by breakaway threats, legal challenges and accusations of cheating.”

“Fans were also relishing the prospect of seeing such an all-time great go head-to-head with young guns such as Lewis Hamilton.”

But perhaps The Times is right when they suggest it’s the German who stands to lose the most. “In some ways the biggest loser here is Michael Schumacher. This will hurt and the fact that he will never quite know what it would have been like to come back and test himself against the best again will irk him more than anything.”

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24 Comments
  1. Dario says:

    Come on ppl!
    Just leave the man alone! Does Schumacher have anything else to prove???? If he was affraid of ruining his reputation, he would have quit when he won his last title…anything other than winning the 8th one would, according to all these articles, mean he’s lost his talent/speed/whatever. And he kept going then, and he lost 2 in a row to Alonso, so I don’t see where all this rubbish is coming from?? He has health issues…period. Why would someone who risked their life for so long, go back to doing it if they knew there could be severe consequences, even if they don’t get into any accident? I remember seeing a photo of schumacher at monza after an accident he was lucky to come out of alive during a testing session. I think this was 2002 or 2003…He had just got out of the car and was lying on the grass…whether due to shock or something else…but you could see on his face that he felt it as not worth it.
    He’s got kIds/wife, who I’m sure mean to him more than anything in the world. Priorities change as we grow older…we get more cautious. We tell our kids to slow down, even though we rememer hating it when our parents told us to slow down…
    Anyways…I miss Michael in F1, but i respect his decision, and I hope he gets better so that if he chooses to do so, he can again drive an f1 car.

    1. DavidT says:

      I agree. Exactly. So why get involved in the first place? Either he got “used” and it all ran out of control, or he agreed to be exploited by Ferrari for their own ends and his wallet.

      Schumacher was a great driver but always a lousy sportsman.

  2. Chris says:

    It is very sad that his return had to be cancelled.

    What I wonder now is, will this make Schumacher even more determined to make a F1 comeback? Or can he simply pack away his thoughts and competiveness and move on.

    He must have been thinking of how good it felt to drive in F1, the racing, the teamwork. After 3 years out, to pick up those emotions and now put them down once more must leave a bitter taste.

    This of course is only applicable if he truly could not race due to fitness/physical issues.

    But basically, does this mean a Schumacher return is inevitable?

  3. bonnie b says:

    James.

    Please tell me what is up with this team.
    First they have Fernando Alonso for 2010,then
    they want Schumarcher back also Felipe Massa,
    If Fernando Alonso did not like Lewis as a
    teammate I cant see him and Schumarcher working
    together.Now they want a third car on the
    grid.This team has turned it self into a circus.

    1. Nicollers says:

      Imagine Kimi, Fernando and Michael all in one team! Team Ego springs to mind! Once again Luca is trying to get the FIA to change the rules for Ferrari’s benefit. How can having 3 cars be considered fair and better for the sport? It would mean Ferrari would have a better chance at winning points in the Constructer’s Championship.

      Di Montezemolo’s comments stagger me. On one hand he says:

      “I prefer the champion, even if matured, to the mediocre driver, even if he’s young. Our circus needed some great input.”

      But then goes on to say:

      “[We have] faith in Luca Badoer, who’s one of us. Destiny has given him a unique possibility now he has to make the best out of it. We will support him with all we’ve got.”

      Destiny? Trying to recruit Michael proved Ferrari had no faith in Badoer whatsoever. Now that Badoer has the drive isn’t destiny, it’s through Ferrari’s lack of options!

  4. guy says:

    It is very disappointing. I was completely ecstatic when I heard that Michael would return. I had thought that he would not return on account of having everything to lose. It seems as though I had the right idea initially.

    So James, will you still be revising “The Edge of Greatness?”

  5. philipb says:

    I think cold, hard reality set in. Away for 3 years & a less than optimal car did not bode well for a triumphant return. Mind you, Hailwood did it.

  6. ozzmosis says:

    Among other things I’m sure the prospect of driving an F1 car on full slicks (as opposed to the grooves of 1998-2008) again must be enticing for Michael. I seem to recall that Jacques Villeneuve voiced an interest in a comeback after full slicks were brought back to the sport. Can you imagine Villeneuve driving for USGPE? Now there’s a story.

    James, on Twitter you mentioned Ferrari “want to run a third car next year for Schumacher next year, neck permitting”. Schumacher or not, can you explain the logistics of running a third car in 2010? I was under the impression the rules don’t allow more than two cars per team (nor single car teams, for that matter), and that presumably the other teams would only agree to that if they could run third cars.

    Why would the other teams want to run third cars, particularly in this economic climate?

    If we have all the top teams fielding third cars, we’re then looking at overly-full grids, which could mean the reintroduction of pre-qualifying in some form or another.

    I’m not sure casual F1 fans are really interested in seeing three cars all with the same livery. Or the commentators, for that matter.

    Either way, I’m looking forward to a larger entry list! We haven’t had a full grid since about 1995.

  7. enzofan says:

    It was the correct decision. Why risk your health when you have already proven you are the greatest driver F1 has ever seen?

    He would have for sure lost 3-4 tenths easily per lap compared to his peak. I think he would have matched the likes oh Hamilton and Vettel for raw pace but would not have blown them away like he would have in his peak. However if it rained the rain master would have had a chance of winning with only Vettel having a chance to get close in such conditions, and that’s only because Schumacher has not had a chance to test the car in such conditions.

    We are all disappointed that he is not racing but let’s not forget we had 15 fantastic years of Schumacher where he won many races and titles in inferior cars something very few have done in the history of the sport. Having followed F1 for 30 years I know how dangerous the sport can be. The only driver I would put close to Schumacher in terms of natural talent Senna passed away while at his peak, so I am grateful to have 15 years of Schumacher and now its time for the new generation.

    1. Joe says:

      Schu vs Senna – no comparison. Senna all the way…Had Senna been alive, Schu would not have won as many championships…
      Even now, Alonso could match Schu. I wonder on your assumptions about Schu matching Hamilton. Hope you don’t worship Schu !!!

      1. Martin says:

        I find these definitive statements on Senna being better than Schumacher amusing. Pointing to a season such as 1993 when both had Ford engines and Bennetton a step better, doesn’t cover for the McLaren having the best active suspension and hence the best aero grip in the field. Senna was getting his butt kicked in Monaco, but the record books will show a Schumacher engine failure. Does this prove anything? Are your eyes an emotions unbiased?

        In the pre-refueling era pole positions mattered less as tyre management through the race created passing opportunities, so qualifying helped but it wasn’t critical like it now is. Therefore comparing margins from different eras has little value.

        If you look at 1988 and 89 in the races where both drivers were happy with their cars, basically, neither Prost nor Senna could get away from or catch the other during the races.

        There does appear to be a growing argument that once Prost retired Senna lost his key motivation. A number of people who knew Senna well, e.g. Sid Watkins, have indicated that Senna wasn’t as focussed as he should have been during 1994.

        In a sense I think we have the fastest F1 field ever right now as the drivers have to be as the grid is tight and the cars are so optimised now, constantly running on relatively light fuel loads. If you go back twenty years the error rate during the races was much greater even though the drivers weren’t pushing as hard as the cars didn’t have the reliability.

        It usually takes time to produce a good F1 driver. It is part of the reason there is so much unwillingness to replace average performing drivers. After extensive preparation it took Lewis Hamilton only three races to be really on a the race pace of the best guys. This is unusual but not unprecedented.

        In the case of Michael, speculation as to how much lap time he will have lost is laughable. There has been words written of slowing reflexes as people age, which is fine if you are trying to catch a car that isn’t doing what you want, but that is overstepping the limit of what the car can do and will only make a car go slower. The feel that comes from the ear’s balance is a predictive thing. If you make the exact input you want to make then the car can go around the corner on the fastest line maximising the friction ellipse. So to what level has Schumacher lost he fine motor control? Who knows? Had he lost any during his active career. This was hardly evident. He had still be using these skills driving cars and racing bikes. I suspect he would have lost most speed in not understanding the car, e.g the evolution of the tyres over a qualifying lap, and that is something that would come quickly.

        A driver can make a small error and lose a few tenths and grid places. This happens in every qualifying. Doing a better job in qualifying is not the same as being a faster driver on that circuit.

  8. Neil Barr says:

    The head-to-head battle royals between a sport’s titans are rarely the definitive verdicts we want them to be because so seldom are both at their best. Hamilton at almost 3 years in F1 versus Schumacher at almost 3 years out of F1 would have proven nothing. But not according to the hype machine. It would have been “Race of the Century!” every time out until the dancing bear was of no more use to the ringmaster.
    At least it’s only the Maestro’s neck that must heal and not his reputation.

  9. Jeff Pappone says:

    Jumping in the car even when you are at 100% fitness is tough. Doing it with a nagging injury is unwise.

    I remember talking to Jacques Villeneuve after his three-race stint with Renault to close the 2004 season. He talked about how much his insides ached after races due to the G-forces in the car and there was no way to prepare your body for the pounding that no matter how much time you spent in the gym.

    He said: “When you are getting four or five Gs, your organs get bruised and there’s a buildup of acidity, and that tires you if you are not used to it. It’s also very hard to breathe in the corners because your lungs are getting squished — there’s no way to train for that. It’s not so bad when you’re winning but when you are running in the back, the day becomes very long.”

  10. Michael says:

    I’d bet if Williams and both Red Bulls had let Schumacher test, he would not have called it off. I think the unknown of the F60 is a bigger burden then his injury.

  11. John Pugh says:

    It is a huge disappointment for everyone, Michael Schumacher and Ferrari included (with the possible exception of Carina Schumacher and Luca Badoer).

    In the recent past Luca has been on top of the time sheets in testing, not infrequently.

    Allow a second a lap for Michael’s racecraft/speed/agression and brilliance.

    Knock off half a second a lap for his lack of recent driving.

    Subtract the other half second a lap from Luca’s time and we should know where Michael might have finished!

    I wish Luca the best of luck and Michael a speedy recovery.

  12. Roberto says:

    Schumacher´s face today showed some sadness about not being able to take part in the Valencia race, i think he was totally in the “zone” about his return to racing.

    Reading between lines i think he was looking to use this opportunity as a test to see if he was up to the challenge to make a comeback either replacing Raikkonen next year or as Montezemolo has pointed out in various ocassions as a driver of a 3rd Ferrari.

    I think for the moment there is nothing to do and don´t think he will be able to participate in the other races if the injures are a severe as the doctor pointed.

    As a fan i hope he can recover soon and can take the challenge again, Formula 1 has some great drivers right now but Schumacher is still the point of reference.

  13. Clem Devine says:

    It’s a shame, but what else does this guy have to prove? Like him or hate him, he is the G.O.A.T.

    Good on him for making a tough call, its the media that got carried away with it all.

  14. Snail says:

    “In some ways the biggest loser here is Michael Schumacher. This will hurt and the fact that he will never quite know what it would have been like to come back and test himself against the best again will irk him more than anything.”

    I’m completely onboard with this sentiment. Schumacher is a competitor, first and foremost. The fact he isn’t going to be competing is going to be an unresolved issue.

    All the other conspiracy theory and “he isn’t up to it” guff is nonsense.

  15. artorwar says:

    Nice to see the tabloids and EJ keeping up their regime of knowing bugger all about the situation. All credit to MS, I’m sure he made his decision based on the right reasons, no one in the world wants to see Badoer back in an F1 car. Very disapointed, but not as unhappy as I’d be if he damaged himself. Once a legend, always a legend.

  16. monktonnik says:

    I am sad that Schumacher is not coming back. For me it would have answered the question as to whether he was the the best driver, as I think that most of us believed he was. If he had comeback and humbled Raikkonen, then I think that would have answered some of the critics of his in 2005/2006.

    With this is mind I tend to agree with the comments from The Times, that Schumacher himself would have relished this challenge. I think that the suggestion that he “cheickened out” is a bit unfair, as he agreed to do it in the first place. He could have said no from the start.

  17. Jason C says:

    I agree with the analysis at the end: I think he would have really relished the chance to come back. Fractured vertebrae are not to be ignored.

  18. A Moo Point: Like a Cow's Opinion, it doesn't matter - It's Moo says:

    “In some ways the biggest loser here is Michael Schumacher. This will hurt and the fact that he will never quite know what it would have been like to come back and test himself against the best again will irk him more than anything.”

    This is why I think at some point, we may yet see Schumi back competing in an F1 car…

  19. Paul Mc says:

    Felt really gutted for MS in that press conference, you could tell that he was really up for coming back and the disappointment was etched all over his face.

  20. One thing for certain, Schuey is a competitor and if there was any way his neck could stand the driving for 2 hours, he would be making all the other teams sweat this weekend. I have nothing but respect for the Grand Master as he gave it his best and he still may be in the car before the end of the season depending on his neck and Felipe’s health… I am sure Stefano and company would love to have him in the car.

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