Michael Schumacher has admitted that his decision to announce that he would try to make a Formula 1 comeback this summer was ‘emotional, not rational’. It was driven by a desire to do the right thing for Felipe Massa, to cover for him and protect his future.
That much was fairly evident at the time, but it’s interesting nevertheless to hear him say it now, mainly because Schumacher was always such a mentally driven driver, rather than an emotional one.
It was rare in his racing days for him to do anything that was not utterly pragmatic, partly because beneath the surface he is quite an emotional person and he worked hard to keep that side of himself in check.
Also in his racing days at Ferrari he had arch-pragmatists like Ross Brawn and Jean Todt around him, who do not make emotional decisions. They undoubtedly influenced him.
He is still very close to Todt and may well have asked him for his advice on the comeback, particularly with Massa’s involvement in mind. Massa is managed by Todt’s son, Nicolas.
“It wasn’t really a rational decision, it was an emotional decision, which, at the time, I thought ‘why not, it’s part-time, it could be funny,’” Schumacher told reporters at the press call for the Race of Champions in Beijing.
There were quite a few emotional decisions taken by Ferrari over the summer; the decision by Luca Di Montezemolo to approach Schumacher, then to go with Luca Badoer, when Schumacher proved unfit. Schumacher seems to have got caught up in the emotion of his friend Felipe Massa’s injury and Ferrari’s need. Does this say something about the new regime at Ferrari? Possibly that is reading too much into it, but one of Stefano Domenicali’s tasks next season is to show that the team is back to its pragmatic best,
“Having the meeting with him (Di Montezemolo) I looked at all the points, in particular that it was Felipe, who is like a brother to me, ” said Schumacher. “Part of the reason I retired was to hand over the car to him because he deserved to stay in a team with a top car. So taking the fact that it was him, having the accident, having to suffer, it was very easy to convince myself, so I finally said ‘yes, I will try’.”
Bernie Ecclestone got wrapped up in it too and you sense that he regrets now that Schumacher let the news about the comeback filter out before knowing whether he was fit enough to go through with it.