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Schumacher admits that his comeback idea was emotionally driven
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Schumacher admits that his comeback idea was emotionally driven
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Nov 2009   |  5:23 pm GMT  |  15 comments

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.

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15 Comments
  1. mingojo says:

    James, do you think Schumacher relationship with Massa could affect Alonso next year? I mean, do you think Michael would love to see Massa beating Fernando?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m sure he would, but not sure how much influence he would have on it.

  2. Having seen other drivers struggle with this years cars (Fisi in the Ferrari – not as good as MS but still an incredibly experienced driver) there is a part of me that is glad MS did not come back this season – yes he may have got in the car and come to terms with the new style cars immediately but we will never know and it would have been difficult to watch the great MS struggling in a car.

  3. MARK says:

    Would have loved to see him back, i wonder if Ferrari would have stopped developing there car if he had.Maybe schuey knew they would meaning he had no hope of winning races. As for bernie the one good thing about the schuey story was it helped to ease the massa crash headlines, never good for any sport.

  4. Ray says:

    The most interesting part I find from Schumacher’s comments above is his statement that ‘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’

    All the talk at the time was of him possibly not wanting to race Kimi (notwithstanding his back problems from 2005/6 that we did not know about at the time) however this is another insight into the emotional side of him as opposed to the out and out racer and winner. Suffice to say, if he had remained on with the team Massa would have been moved on to accomadate Kimi.

    However I struggle to believe that this was a key part of his decision, more likely in my opinion one of the many pro’s and con’s.

  5. Guy says:

    James do you think the idea of Schumacher back in F1 is realistic now?

  6. Silverstoned says:

    Retired so he could “”hand over to Felipe””. That’s new.
    Kimi put in a good word for Todt the other day. He didn’t have to – it shows mutual respect.
    It was JT, it seems, who was able to keep the non-pragmatic side of Schumacher in check. When JT went, the Legend was free to pursue his agenda [I don't want to say vendetta] of promoting Massa over Raikkonen. Kimi was only able to gain his title while Todt was still there, never after.

    Did MS want to retire or was he pushed out by Montezem to make way for the Iceman? As a result did he then do everything he could to make Massa the de facto top dog within the team and sabotage anything helpful to Kimi’s side of the garage?

    Is this an unfair assessment, James, or something like the truth?

  7. Michael Grievson says:

    Agreed. He expects us to believe the most successful driver of all tine would retire to help his team mate? Rediculous I think.

    1. Sam says:

      I think when you make that sort of decision, it is usually more then just one reason. I can imagine his wife and kids complaining for not spending enough time,and he probably felt he started to lose his appetite in doing chores (such as testing, working late with engineers etc..)

      On the other hand, I have no doubt that he wanted another crack at Alonso.

      Luca did show his enthusiasm towards Kimi more then MS and he created a condition where Massa would lose his seat if he continues.

      So for him, I can see that the reasons to retire greatly out-weigh the reasons to continue which is why he decided to stop.
      Clearly, Massa was a factor.

  8. steph90 says:

    Despite loving Ferrari I have never felt the same about Schuey. He was not an emotional racer and would go to far to win. However, now I can at least give him some respect as he has shown he is human and would stand by a friend. This is a far cry from the Schuey painted in the media.

    1. Sam says:

      Ahh you need to read JA’s the edge of the greatness where he extensively explained why MS hided all his emotions.

      His soft side was never revealed to media because he doesn’t want to be seen as vulnerable.

      Its a very good book, I really enjoyed it. Now I respect F1 drivers more after reading how 12/13 years old kids have to travel with different people, deal with financial difficulties and presure at such a young age, do everything they can to get sponsors etc…

      I don’t work for him by the way.

      1. steph90 says:

        Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll give it a read:)

  9. Alberto Dietz says:

    Yet today at http://www.raceofchampions.com one could see the MS era is far from over.

  10. Alien says:

    It’s lucky for MS his neck prevented him from ending up stone last in the F60 like Badoer and Fisi. That car was a Dog and it just goes to show how much of an achievement Kimi’s win and string of podiums was.

    As for Kimi’s performance in 2008 compared to 2007 after JT left… Michael has a lot of influence in the team and wanted Massa to win. It’s not beyond all possiblity that he ‘arranged things’ to suit Massa. This is not to say that he sabotaged Kimi’s car or anything but the development could have been steered in the direction of one driver by an influential team member. How else do you explain Kimi’s performance in 2008 vs 2007? It’s the same driver trying just as hard but the car simply did not work for him. Why could Ferrari get him the WDC in 2007 but in 2008 they simply couldn’t get the car to work for him?

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