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A better car the key to Schumacher’s 2011 season
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A better car the key to Schumacher’s 2011 season
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Sep 2010   |  12:11 pm GMT  |  162 comments

Michael Schumacher will compete next year in Formula 1, but how well it goes depends on the quality of the car that Mercedes gives him.


The seven times world champion has had a torrid time this season, scoring 76 points less than his young team mate Nico Rosberg and generally being outpaced by him everywhere. The old Schumacher, who’s presence always dominated the paddock and the race track during race weekends, is a far more anonymous competitor these days. It is often easy to forget that he’s in the field.

The reason why he has struggled is because what he has around him now isn’t what he enjoyed for many years with Ferrari, where there was unlimited testing and he could fine tune both chassis and tyres to his needs. Ferrari had a development contract with Bridgestone and so Schumacher was able to get the tyres exactly how he wanted them.

He took a calculated gamble to come back this season with no testing and it seems that he underestimated the effect it would have on his performance. Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn has defended him in the face of a rather odd one main campaign by former team owner Eddie Jordan, using his BBC platform, to say that Schumacher should be sacked and in any case will not race next year. The team is mystified as to why he should be taking such a stand on this issue.

Speaking to the F1.com website, Brawn said, “If you take the telemetry data in fast corners or his reaction time when the car breaks away, I don’t see any difference [to before his retirement]. There he’s still the old Michael,” said Brawn.

“But in the slow corners he cannot make full use of the tyres as Nico can. Nico has put the bar very high in this respect. But I guess that’s okay for Michael as he clearly sees where he has to improve. I predict that in 2011 we will again see the true Michael – when we’ve delivered him a better car.”

And that is the key to it. The 2010 Mercedes suffers from the fact that it was developed by a Brawn team that had limited resources and much of them were being directed at winning last year’s championship.

The key question is whether Mercedes will be able to deliver a good enough car next season. The team’s track record as Honda wasn’t fantastic, the 2005 and 2006 cars being the only good ones and the Brawn’s success last year owed a lot to starting the season with a controversial and well developed double diffuser, which rivals then had to copy.

The other key component for Schumacher will be the new Pirelli tyres. Here he will be helped by the fact that it’s a level playing field for everyone. But if they don’t fit in with his driving style, as the current Bridgestones do not, he could be struggling again. This is a secondary point to the chassis, which is the most important. But it’s significant nevertheless.

(Photo:Darren Heath)

Brawn shed some more light on why Schumacher struggles on these tyres in the F1.com interview, “Michael’s driving style depends on a strong front tyre that can withstand his hard braking and the steering manoeuvres that he prefers,” Brawn explained. “Nico has simply understood better how to handle these front tyres.

“I have to say that this year’s front tyre is very uncommon. That stems from the fact that the FIA wanted to promote KERS and had asked Bridgestone to develop tyres that would fit a certain weight distribution and thus create a specific tyre characteristic.”

All of this is also forcing a re-evaluation of Rosberg’s talents. At Williams alongside Webber and Nakajima he did not look anything particularly special, but this season he has really come of age and put in many strong performances across qualifying and race. Schumacher’s powers have waned in the years since he retired, but Rosberg is on it.

Brawn admits in the interview that if it were any other driver, he would not be retained. Schumacher needs a good car next year to salvage some dignity from his comeback. A few wins would be ideal, but even some podiums would enable to say that that the comeback was worthwhile on balance and that he enjoyed it. It is for this reason that it makes no sense for him to stop at the end of 2010.

The risk is that he gets another bad car next year and the poor results continue. Then he – and Mercedes – would be forced into some tough decisions during the season.

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162 Comments
  1. Ben G says:

    Eddie Jordan, bless him. He certainly does say some far out things on the BBC. Now, if the BBC could get Eddie Irvine instead… And a certain commentator…

    My hunch is that Schumacher will make a decision after the tyre test at Abu Dhabi. If he can tell then that the new Pirelli’s are obviously not to his style, there won’t be much point continuing in 2011. I hope he does tho’…

    1. Stevie P says:

      Would you work with Irvine, James? ;-)

      I must admit, I zone out when Jordan starts rambling… I’m always amazed how someone who can’t even string a sentence together has done so well; it must be the ol’ irish charm.

      As for Schumacher… I agree Ben, I think it’ll come down to that Abu Dhabi test too – if he thinks he can get the new tyres to work and\or get the car modified to help him with this, then he’ll hang around. And I hope he does too :-)

      1. jeff navarro says:

        knowing schumi just give him the complete package and the result will be another world title

  2. Danny says:

    Whether or not next years Mercedes car is a championship winning car it cannot be any worse than this years, and although Mercedes will deny it will not be built around Schumacher (I hope it is and it probably will be) it will definately suit Schumacher(and Rosberg)much better.

    1. TheGreatCornholio says:

      Am i right in believing that this years Mercedes Gp car was designed to fit Jenson Button’s requirements?

      1. Dan says:

        Jenson did make a comment to that effect, I believe.

      2. Stevie P says:

        You would presume so… as Rubens was blah-blah-blahing off to Williams and BrawnGP believed they were going to run with Button and Rosberg in 2010.

  3. Richard Mee says:

    I think the car is secondary. It is all about the narrower front wheels and especially the tyres. During his Ferrari hayday Schumi basically had the whole Bridgestone field running with ‘his’ optimum tyres and the number of testing miles afforded by Ferrari’s and Bridgestone’s combined budgets underwrote the domination. There was simply no way the others could keep in touch.
    I can imagine how eager he is to understand the characteristics of the new Pirelli’s… he wants to get in there early so he can influence development from here forward to his liking. I suspect that if he gets even a hint that the Pirelli’s are in-line with the current Bridgestone characteristics he won’t stick around next year.

  4. jmv says:

    I remember “back in the days” a certain Juan Montoya in a war of words with Schumacher/Brawn/Ferrari, where Juan said something along the lines of “he is winning because he has the best car”.

    At that time I thought “no”… Juan is talking BS.

    It is not just about the car, he (MS) is a great part of it in terms of driving and maximizing.

    And back then it was also a level playing field in that all drivers had their share of testing time and duties, or to provide inputs into tire and chassis development… OR hang on… maybe not…

    Juan and Ralf shared car development between their different driving styles;

    Juan, Ralf, Kimi and DC, plus the Renault Boys shared tire development between all six of them.

    MS had the entire thing – tire development and car development – all to himself.

    So maybe Juan was right after all. And maybe Frank Williams was also right in claiming that Ralf was the faster brother!

    1. Danny says:

      what about when he (Schumacher) won the title when he didn’t have the best car like 94,95 and 2000(Prob 2003 as well). You can’t re write history because Schumacher is having a poor season. And your first instincts were correct whatever comes out of Montoya’s mouth is BS.

      1. ian says:

        in 94/95 was the car legal?
        and in 2003 didn’t ferrari get rather a lot of help from the FIA?

      2. rossetto says:

        In 2003 Michelin teams were running illegal tires for a few races, rather than FIA helping Ferrari.

      3. Kenny says:

        In ’94 and ’95 in particular the Benetton was heaps faster than the Williams. And, as ian points out, both were probably illegal.

      4. Danny says:

        The Benetton was certainly not heaps faster than the Williams in 94 and 95. It is a fact that the Williams was the faster car, as for the legality issue it is all conjecture nothing was ever proved and Benetton to my knowledge never had to answer a case. I know they legal issues over the 94 car but as far as I know no legality issues were ever brought up regarding the 95 car. As for Schumacher getting help from the FIA in 2003 again it’s all conjecture, it probably compensated for the two race ban he got in 94 and the victory he had taken away in Spa, Schumacher should have won the 94 championship by 15 or 20 points not just the one.

    2. Diarmuid says:

      look,schumacher’s best years were not his 5 in a row years. Almost none of his true fans think they were his best years either. His best seasons without a shadow of a doubt were 95, 96, 97, 98. And in those season(except 98) he was on goodyears like everyone else. And he was not in the best car. But he put in some astonishing drives back then that i dont think a single other driver could have won the races he did. Spain 96, Monaco 97, Spa 97,

      He did that occasionally in the 2000s but he peaked before all the titles came.

      All this rubbish of how it was all the car is crap. Why would they have paid him so much if they felt any driver could have done what he did? And even when you have a good car it doesnt mean its easy to wrap up the title. Look how Red bull are doing this year. Do you think that title wouldnt have been long sewn up with Schumacher at his peak behind the wheel? It’d be over races ago.

      1. MattNZ says:

        Agree agree agree – Schumacher 96-98 driving in not the best car, but wringing performances from them that no other driver would have been capable of.

        If you’ve only followed F1 since 2000s, it would be easy to say – Schumacher’s wins were simply due to having the best car.

      2. Momo says:

        An excellent comment.

      3. Adam Tate says:

        That comment was bang on.

        The reason MSC got all that special treatment, commands such respect and is being given one last chance is because he earned it. Look at Spain 96, or Hungary 98, and you will see the best driving by any race driver in the past two decades.

      4. nick says:

        absolutly agree whith you,i even think that with the red bull being so good on down force/grip, this season that had shumi been in it this season he would of had victories and been chaseing the 2010 title

    3. monktonnik says:

      I think you have to ask why he had all those resources all to himself. How many multi million pound companies revolve themselves around 1 average competitor. All F1 drivers are by definition at the sharp end of their sport, to garner that much support from so many sources has to indicate something of their respect for the man, even if his record of achievements isn’t enough to convince you.

    4. For Sure says:

      When it comes to F1 people look at the results exclusively.

      Firstly I think Schumaher looked invincible even on the years where he didn’t have the car to win titles.
      I am talking about his early Ferrari days in 90s, Barcelona 96, for example where he lapped 4 seconds faster and finished over a minute a head of everyone.
      I mean he was winning way before so called Bridgestone “custom” tyres.

      At 2006, I bet Alonso gets the same sort of help from Michellin just like Schumi gets the help from Bridgestone.

  5. AlexD says:

    I do not what to think. This years showed many things – it is important to adapt to changes and other drivers managed to do it better than Schumacher. Next year is crucial- it is going to show whether Schumacher is really the legend, or just someone extremely talented who was able to make things for for himself…

    1. Diarmuid says:

      Excuse me, but how does this affect his legacy? Are you saying that Michael is just as good as he was 7 years ago? And that 3 years off, being 41 and coming back to what is essentially a different Formula makes no difference?

      Its this kind of nonsense that annoys me. How could any reasonable person say that his old titles were meaningless because of his comeback?

      1. rafa says:

        You´re right: essentially it shouldn´t make a difference to his legacy that he´s out to compete nowadays and that he´s past his prime. Part of the reason is that Schu has been nothing short of controversial and has had lines waiting outside his front step waiting for him to wane to pull the line that he wasn´t as good as his legend has him. I think it is very debatable whether he is or not the best driver there ever has been -even the notion of comparing different drivers of different epochs makes no sense to me. But he is one of the best, no doubt, and the fact that he´s been willing to sacrifice some of the polish and glitter to come out and compete gives me an idea of just how big a champion he really is: i was never his fan really, i saw him as an arrogant brat -ironically I am an Alonso fan, and he doesn´t come short of those traits either- but this last year he´s earned tons more respect from me than ever before, showing that it´s the racing that does it for him, and not loosing face despite challenging for positions that really do not befit the Schumacher legend. That´s alright, I can settle for the old hero Schumacher racer.

      2. AlexD says:

        But where do you read it in my post? The legend, for me, is someone who can adjust to any conditions and win…or be better than other people in the same car. The legend must be able to do something more than a typical human being.

        I am not taking 7 titles from him – I am his great supporter. It is just a question how did he manage to get to his great achievement – it looks like he was able to create special environment and conditions that allowed to pull something as incredible as he did.

        Let’s see what is going to happen next year.

      3. Diarmuid says:

        And it couldnt be that he was able to adjust better in the past? Maybe he isnt quite so adaptive now as he was in the past. Maybe the massive changes he is having to adjust to on top of having a car that he doesnt like are all adding up to a very difficult season. Ross Brawn always said Schumacher’s strength was that he could drive around problems so i’m willing to take his word that michael certainly could adapt in the past at the very least.

      4. rafa says:

        i was agreeing with the post that replied yours. Schumacher is great because he won what he won and did so by creating the conditions or influencing them in a team that had not been victorious for many years. Musing whether other drivers would have done the same or more is completely irrelevant. It is the same as those who question whether Lance Armstrong is de facto the best guy on a bike because of his records or would Merckx have given him a run for his money. Is Federer the guy who´s played best tennis ever? just because of his records? It is a fact that except for Nadal the competition is arguably been weaker than in other epochs. Same thing with Schumacher:he probably ain´t the best, but he sure is one of the biggest, and only because some like to play impossible games -Hamilton beat Aolonso, who beat Schumacher, therefore Hamilton had he been born before would have been the best ever (where does button beating all of them fare in these mind games?)- should not diminish his achievements.

    2. For Sure says:

      Tiger Wolf is doing badly these days but it doesn’t change anything. Mike Typson was knocked out a few times at the end of his career but he is still remembered as one of the all time greatest.

      1. AlexD says:

        Agree…Schumacher will be remembered. But…it is going to be compromised. If he did not come back, people would remember him as someone, who was not beatable….and they would probably think that if he would have been racing Hamilton’s and Vettel’s of this word in the same car, he would have beaten them…
        Schumacher is lucky that Hamilton is not his teammate this year

      2. For Sure says:

        Firstly, no one is unbeatable. Mika, Jv, Alonso beat him and that doesn’t take away anything from them and him.
        On contrary, you could say that Lewis was lucky coz he didn’t start his career at 1991.

  6. DC says:

    I’m afraid I don’t buy the whole “doesn’t suit his driving style” line. All the best drivers adjust according to the regulations, and for years we were told he was the best of the best.

    if he can’t adjust then he’s not good enough for F1 anymore. Blaming the tyres is a poor excuse. Rosberg proves there is more in the chassis so it’s not like it’s an overall performance issue.

    It seems to me he had an unfair advantage at Fiat for all those years as well with the tyre testing. Which means maybe his Benetton days were his very best. He did win those championships in a car that was arguably not the fastest at the time. The Williams being the pace setter back then.

    1. ian says:

      How ‘fair’ were his Benetton days?

      1. Stuart says:

        Clearly you are very anti-Schumacher. All competitors seek an advantage so if he got the contract to test more tyres when at Ferrari then well played. The Benetton car was clearly not the best car on the grid in’94/’95 legal or otherwise. I used to be a huge fan and have been very pleased to see his demeanour this year on his comeback and believe he will be stronger next year and that he wants to prove his previous championships were in part down to his driving ability

      2. ian says:

        Yes you are right – clearly at least some of his titles were down to his ability. he was very able, but he has seven titles, it is quite reasonable to look more closely at a driver with that level of achievement . Alain Prost won four – could have been more.
        He had three world champions as team mates, held his own and more against them all, never had any unfair advantages, and was a sportsman too. To me Schumacher and much of what he stood for is a stain on the sport.

      3. DC says:

        I guess that’s another question, but on the whole the Williams was a quicker car, I think! My memory is a little hazy! I do remember some fine drives and MS and some great strategy calls from Ross Brawn…and i’m not realy an MS fan, I was cheering on Damon back then…but there was a lot to respect…

      4. Grabyrdy says:

        Williams was just about quicker overall in 94, even with all the naughty bits on the Benetton, but in 95, it was even. But you have to factor in the way MS won the title in 94. He stole a title that wasn’t his, and I’m sure that mentally Damon suffered from that. If 94 had turned out differently, I’ve always thought that Damon would have been mentally stronger in 95, and that may have made the difference.

      5. For Sure says:

        U mean it’s because he was banned for a few races so that Damon Hill could catch up?

  7. Simon Emms says:

    Maybe Luca di Montizemolo was correct – it’s Michael’s twin brother who’s returned to F1

    1. jack_faith says:

      let’s face it , wouldn’t Ferrari would have taken him over Massa if they thought he was still fast? They could see from his testing he had lost it. I think it’s likely that remark from Luca was his elegant way of saying just that,

  8. Rich says:

    Is it the car? is it the tyres? or it it that things have moved on since he left, the drivers have improved and the cars are more on a parity?

    He has copped well in the past with all sorts of car, grooved and slick tyres, traction control and no traction control.

    Was he ever as good as his record suggests? As far as I’m concerned he cheated his way to several championship with both Benetton and Ferrari. Running DH off track. Using traction control software when it was banned (they said it wasn’t used but we could all hear it!) Wrong size barge boards to name just some of the things he was found out about. What else went on that we don’t know about?

    He can’t give up now because of loss of face and mark my words, next year will be a disaster for him. I can’t wait to see it.

    1. JR says:

      I don’t wish on Michael what you wish in your last sentence — schadenfreude (spelling?)is going too far — but I do agree with the rest.

      MSC was/is the arch manipulator. What he’s had, more then any other driver, is the ability to create an aura which intimidated to opposition. Maybe we’re finding out that it was all built on politics rather than raw ability.

      1. Tim. says:

        “which intimidated to opposition” You bet running people into walls does that …not much skill needed there…

    2. andy mcc says:

      really good post i agree with you ,the new guys just arent bothered and give as good as they get ,it seems he just aint that good,senna made any car look good

    3. Paul Kirk says:

      Hay Rich, don’t forget every team is trying to stretch the rules to the limit, they always have and they always will, dosen’t matter what form of motorsport they’re in. Just think “double difusers, flexi wings, flexi floors, blown wings, blown difusers, mass dampers, fuel, rev limits, ride height, etc., etc.” If the truth be known, this season’s Merc is probably the most leagal car on the grid. Personally I hope MS has a better year next year, he deserves it!
      PK.

    4. Eric says:

      Traction control? As far as I’m aware, that appears to be nothing but a myth. Codes for launch control were found, but were also found in McLaren, I believe, and it could never be proven that it was used. Traction control persists, but if you read the FIA documents, which are accesible, it’s never mentioned. But hey, let’s just keep the myth going, because that simply makes Schumacher seem more incompetent.

  9. Matt W says:

    I agree with you James. Given the rule changes next year, and given he will have some input into the car design then it makes no sense for him to quit now.

    I think a lot of critics need to realise just what a task he has and shouldn’t underestimate how difficult it is to come back after a layoff. He was never going to get results this year, even Schumacher needs time and half a chance to build a team.

    1. Grabyrdy says:

      Pedro de la Rosa came back this year after a long time away, and he did a better job than MS. Pedro has now got the sack, and MS is still talking about next year. Truly, you really can fool some of the people all of the time.

      Or else, Mercedes can’t cope with the loss of face involved in showing him the door.

  10. Euan Taylor says:

    what do you mean rosberg didn’t look anything special at williams? he drove the wheels off that williams and even got some very good results in an uncompetitive car. give him a car good enough and he could challenge for the title.

  11. Richard Allum says:

    Why is everyone mystified about Eddie Jordan’s comments when “Brawn admits in the interview that if it were any other driver, he would not be retained.”

    1. Tyler says:

      Exactly….although I think the perception is EJ has “what could have been” syndrome and maybe a tad bitter.

  12. Paul Irvine says:

    I’m glad it isn’t just me who has noticed EJ’s campaign against Michael Schumacher. All this talk of destroying his legacy. There’s definitely some animosity there, but then I find EJ’s contribution to the BBC’s coverage the weakest part. I’d much rather see him leave at the end of the season.

    1. ian says:

      i’d like to see the back of both of them ( MS and EJ )

    2. JR says:

      What do you mean? The clearly noticeable friction between EJ and DC is one of the highlights of the BBC coverage when the race isn’t on: that and Brundall’s relationship with the attractive German lady presenter he keeps elbowing out of the way!

      1. James Allen says:

        She’s Austrian – Tanya Bauer

    3. jack_faith says:

      yep, agree. I think the perception though is EJ adds some colour into the mix. He has this tendency of being like an annoying terrier – as commented earlier, Irvine would be a better choice.

  13. Mat says:

    I think the reason why so many people have been so critical of Michael this year is not because of his poor results but because of how poor he has performed compared to Nico. I doubt that if Mercedes build a better racecar next year that Michael is suddenly going to be beating Rosberg but I guess the Schumacher fans will have to find more excuses for the great man. JA included.

    1. James Allen says:

      That’s a bit harsh.

      1. Jez Playense says:

        Why harsh?
        There have been no results to earn the support.

        Brawn says any other driver would be gone.

        How many low achieving drivers have received so much attention from the press including you?

        I believe one of the main reasons the public are “sticking it to MS” is following his appalling driving tactics of which the incident with Rubens was just one example.

        Nico has earnt the support of his team, and should get it.

    2. Stuart says:

      Fans/supporters do not need excuses to support him. I have watched and followed Schumacher from first seeing him at Le Mans and at that point Ross knew he was special. I agree some of his moves are questionable but as Ross can testify by viewing his telemetary for many years, he clearly has a higher than average ability compared to the many drivers Ross has worked with over the years.

  14. Jason C says:

    Martin Brundle got it right on the BBC forum answering Eddie. Martin asked why Schumacher would ‘crystallise his mysery’ by leaving at the end of this year, when there is potential to improve next.

    Having said that, Schumacher has never before been this far away from a team-mate, has he? Brawn is right: if Schumacher had been a new boy up against Nico and had driven exactly the same races, then he would be out.

    Oh, and the 2004 BAR was pretty handy, wasn’t it James?

    1. Stevie P says:

      Was that the BAR with an extra fuel tank? :-)

  15. Rowan says:

    A balanced appraisal of the current situation with Schumi there James. I think you’re right on the money with it. I hope for his reputation (and to stop EJ harping on about it) that he gets some decent results next year. I always disliked his attitude in the ferrari days but he seems to have relaxed a bit these days. For sheer detirmination and to rub it in the face of the press, I hope he wins at least one race next year.

  16. Matthew says:

    I’m a huge Schumi fan – he was my hero as a boy and it’s pained me to see him struggling this year, not so much compared to the field but mainly compared to Nico.

    I think we’ve seen some flashes of the old Schumi:

    He had a great drive at Monaco, beating Nico and pinching 5th from Alonso (which should’ve stood by the way, the marshalls didn’t follow the correct procedure).

    Michael was quick in Barcelona, beating Nico, and again at Spa but got held up down through Eau Rouge that eventually cost him a place to Nico on that occasion.

    I also loved his dogged defending against Hamilton at China in a FAR slower car. You won’t see too many people keep Lewis behind for nearly 2 laps when their car is about 2-secs per lap slower.

    Schumi’s also been surprisingly fast at certain times in different sessions. In changeable conditions during Q2 at Spa, he was mighty after the first runs and I don’t know quite why but he was 2nd I think after FP1 even at Singapore.

    His starts have also been fantastic, probably making up more places off the start over the season than any one else to my knowledge – James?

    So, Schumi still has it in him to pull out the lap times but I think he’s really struggled with the weheel-to-wheel racing in the mid-field. Sure, Schumi’s famed for never giving an inch and maybe because it’s not for World Championships he’s even more gung-ho but the amount of times he’s tangled with people is extraordinary – whole races ruined e.g. Australia, Canada, Singapore and not to mention the incident with Rubens in Hungary, which honestly killed a little part of me inside.

    Anyway, what’s done is done. I believe Schumi has the potential in him, I just hope that Mercedes can give him the platform to perform. Even if the car is 0.5 secs off the front-runners, so long as it’s suited to his style, he can potentially drive the wheels off it. I remember in 1996 he got results in that Ferrari that should’ve been impossible, simply by picking it up by the scruff of the neck and wringing every last thousandth out of it.

    I guess only time will tell. Whatever happens, I sincerely don’t want to see another season of no wins or podiums ruining his incredible records.

    With that in mind, this might be a bit left-field but out Massa and bring him back to Ferrari?

    Yes please!

    1. Danny says:

      Here Here excellent analysis.

      1. ian says:

        fantasy.

      2. Kev says:

        As much as I like the idea of Schumi in a Red Car, I think it would disturb any little harmony that is in the team and will not be favourable to both parties. Alonso+Schumi+Ferrari will simply not work out even if they have a car 2 seconds faster than the field.

        Also it will be unkind to Massa after all he has gone through this year even though he has been considerably slower than Alonso.

        Finally, with all efforts being put on the 2010 car, I don’t think Ferrari would have a car with as much potential as a MercGP simply because of the lesser amount of time they have got to build the car.

        Schumi should prove his detractors wrong only in a MercGP and I am waiting to see that.

    2. JR says:

      Pure fantasy. Ferrari wouldn’t have MSC back now even if he was a pay-to-drive. Fernando is the new Michael and riding high at the moment after some outstanding performances.

      It is enjoyable however to imagine the politics that would go on with an MSC/ALO line up. Now that would be fun for spectators! On second thoughts I bet, if they had the chance, Hamilton, Button and Webber would actually club together to pay Ferrari to take back MSC as lead driver — with ALO relegated to No 2!

    3. Zobra Wambleska says:

      And how do you think he and Alonso would get along? That would be fun to watch.

      1. Grabyrdy says:

        Even Schumi would know that he’d be a long way behind.

  17. Oliver N says:

    I think Eddie Jordan is still a touch bitter about the best talent of a generation whipped out from under his nose after only one race, and he is enjoying every moment of putting the boot in.

    Who could blame him, although 19 years is a long time to hold a grudge.

    1. Grabyrdy says:

      That’s not my impression. I detect a tinge of regret that MS is making a bit of a fool of himself and he wishes he would stop. And he’s using the evidence of a lot of activity around the Mercedes motor-home on GP weekends (agents, drivers) to suggest that all is not what it seems.

      I’ve rather taken to EJ recently – he’s settled into the role of Court Jester, and does it rather well. It’s certainly entertaining.

  18. Harsha says:

    Should Michael not be picking up tips from Nico on how to use these tyres? Nico’s been on the job during the times Michael’s not. A driver’s supposed to adapt himself to the regulations right? Agreed that the car’s not the top. But he’s supposed to be a past master at hustling a lap out of even an underperforming car. Flashback to the 95-96 seasons where the ferrari was certainly not the best.
    Also, agreed to the fact that he used the extensive test sessions to adapt, but i do think he would have used the races this season as mini test sessions. 15 races, an average of 300km per race plus the mileage in 3 practice sessions and qualifying, amounts to lets say 5000km. Is it not enough for a driver to understand and adapt to the car and hustle it?

    P. S: I have been a big fan of Schumi and will be for years to come. But this struggle is particularly baffling and concerning even.

  19. Sulman says:

    It does make sense. Reading both of your Schumacher books, it’s clear that he is a preparation junkie, and there’s no magic to what he achieved, just a lot of hard work.

    However, it is strange to hear of him requiring a relatively better car. This year’s car suffered immediately from a weight distribution issue, and I wonder where Schumacher would be if he were allowed to test & develop. It does seem that teams and drivers this year are stuck with what they have, simulators and engineering development aside.

    It *must* irk him that Rosberg is managing the situation better, and Brawn’s coded words suggest that Michael needs to be getting on with it. Who would have thought back in February that Nico would show him a clean pair of heels? Nobody but Keke, apparently.

    1. ian says:

      many of us hoped.

    2. Danny says:

      What ‘preparation’ did he have when he stuck a Jordan in 7th in Spa in 91 in his first ever Grand Prix?

  20. Stuart the Old Geezer says:

    Thought you were a bit hard on Rosberg’s time at Williams. I seem to remember he was always quick in practice and got some good results in a car that was obviously ‘nothing special’.

  21. ian says:

    goodness – he would be better off blaming his age, all this special pleading – just highlighting all his previous advantages
    ( no level playing fields there … ) make one question how good he really was …

  22. Uppili says:

    Although this team from Brackley has won both the championships last year, there is still a big question mark on its ultimate ability to fight with the big boys, when the big boys don’t have a troubled season.The two best seasons this team has had in recent history points to this.

    In 2009, they had a head start on other teams as they basically wrote off 2008 season for developing their 2009 car and still Mclaren & Redbull caught up with them by the end of the season.

    In 2004, they were the second best team to Ferrari in a season where the then mighty BMW Williams had a miscalibrated wind tunnel and their walrus nose car was not all that great and the Mclaren MP4-19 which had its roots with the stillborn MP4-18 was a dog too.

    Even in those two seasons the team seemed to suffer from a mid season slump before recovering for end of the season just in time.
    In fact this mid season slump has been a them for this team ever since 2004. In 2006 when they had a reasonably competitive season, they had tyre temperature issues which was attributed to the front wing design. It was the same issue with same reason for their 2009 mid season slump.

    It seems like at the core of the design team at Brackley there is something fundamentally wrong which still has not been addressed.

    The key to the continued success of this team is dependent on whether Ross can get to the bottom of what it is and get it fixed.

  23. mayon says:

    No doubt, he will be back in the main grid next year, not having a good car is always crucial – the last two years for Alonso in Renault were also bad, but he was the same guy that’s winning with Ferrari now, right ? Good luck to MSC, hope to see even more competitiveness next year.

  24. Paul Mc says:

    James I know nothing about tyre technology so forgive the question. How can a tyre effect a driving style? Schumacher has raced in various tyre conditions in F1 from Goodyear to Bridgestone to next years Pirelli’s. How is it that a man of his undoubted talents cannot cope with it but the rest of the field can? Is this just an excuse?

    I also believe Michaels more relaxed attitude is costing him dearly. No one fears him. As Martin Brundle stated he is now a trophy prize for others and Mark Webber proved that when he lapped him with his “That felt good” comment.

    1. James Allen says:

      Construction mainly – the way the sidewalls operate, in particular. It’s about the turn-in and how you load up a tyre and all that kind of thing. Alonso had to revamp his style in 2007 when he went from Michelin to Bridgestone, which didn’t allow him to turn in the way he did with the Renault.

      1. jonrob says:

        So why is it that one of the supposedly greatest ever drivers cannot “revamp” his driving style to suit today’s cars? If Alonso can do so, is he better that Schumi?

        One thing we miss is the old Schumi going off in every practice session finding how far over the limit he can go and still bring it back, it used to be further than everyone else, but now???

      2. Eric says:

        Alonso didn’t really. He was quicker in the McLaren than Hamilton when each tested with Michelin’s. As soon as the Bridgestones were fitted, Hamilton became as quick, if not quicker, and remained so for the majority of the season. For evidence of driver/tire mismatch, see Kubica and Heidfeld. In consecutive seasons, one out-performed the other. And in their respective seasons as the slower driver, each blamed the tires.

      3. Rafael says:

        It takes time to adapt one’s driving style to the tires. David Coulthard once said that making the switch was like going from flats to high heels.

        It took Fernando most of 2007 to evolve his driving style for the narrower Bridgestones, the fact that he was able to stay in touch with Lewis Hamilton only underlines his superb talent. Same could be said with Kimi, who also struggled with the tires that year, evident in his mid-season slump. Also, 2007 allowed some 30-days of testing compared to the in-season testing ban that has been enforced since last year.

        New regulations always call for drivers and teams to somewhat reset their memory banks and undo their modus operandi (one of the reasons LH went so well in ’07 was bec. he didn’t have to reset anything or kill out old habits). And I think Schumi’s development as a driver matured in another era of F1, which is probably why he is having a hard time getting his head around the present – more conservative – set of rules. He grew up to spare cars, unlimited testing and so on. Nevertheless, he is still a 7-times world champion and one of the greatest drivers to have ever graced the F1 scene.

  25. PaulL says:

    I assume next year’s front tyres are still going to be narrow to accommodate KERS?

  26. Martin says:

    Hi James,

    You state that Rosberg did not special compared to Nakajima. Now Nakajima wasn’t in Nico’s class, so was the engineering consensus (i.e. the people that you talk to who tell you that Alonso is best over a race distance) that Nico was only average? Is he only in the Mercedes car because he has a German mum, and this is a pleasant surprise to Ross Brawn? I got the impression that Nico was signed before the Mercedes buy-out was a done deal, i.e that Nico for Rubens wasn’t just about Mercedes engines.

    1. James Allen says:

      That is correct, he was signed before then, but the conversations were well advanced

  27. Jon Rowlandson says:

    Great article. I thought it was a shame that Mark Hughes had stooped to writing a very unbalanced and reactionary piece on the BBC F1 website the other day.

    MS has been disappointing this year – no question. It’s easy to forget how hard it is to be competitive in a bad car – just ask Jenson Button, who, even at the start of his championship winning year was being accused of not being good enough because he’d been trawling round in the midfield for the previous few years for entirely no fault of his own.

    I still think there’s the same technical ability in Schumacher. I saw just a glimmer of it on the entry into Pouhon at Spa this year – carrying lots of entry speed and sharply throwing the front end into the left-hander (much more aggressively than anyone else). He couldn’t do it every lap, but it was enough to convince me that his current lack of speed lies with the car rather than the pilot.

    I hope I’m right.

    Maybe I’m alone in this, but I always rated Rosberg as better than everyone made out. I thought he had a great season last year, regularly pulling pace out of a car that just wasn’t there.

    1. Jon Rowlandson says:

      NB: I’m using ‘bad car’ as a general term for his issues with the tyres, I realise the Rosberg is getting results with the same machinery – please don’t jump on me internet commenters.

      J

  28. Peter says:

    They should give Michael one more year and get Kimi for 2012, I think.

    1. ian says:

      I am sure Nico would be happy beating either of them.

  29. For Sure says:

    So far, I don’t see any newcomer performing close to the level of their experienced teammates. I think lack of testing has hurt the newcomers more than we anticipated.

    If it’s just Schumacher, we can put it down to his age. But I mean a guy like Nick Heidfield, cannot qualify anywhere near to his teammate.
    I am not an F1 expert but according to F1 drivers what you see on the track is the result of properation. James, do you think they will have more testing next year? And how about refueling ?

  30. Jez Playense says:

    What a load of excuses. Schuey should be able to do something to demonstrate his ability. Instead he requires a car to be made to fit his requirements. EJ is right.

  31. Ian Court says:

    Let’s get this straight the results have not been what everybody was expecting from Michael but for people to now come out and say he only won 91 races and 7 world titles because of his equipment is ludicrous. The fact of the matter is he is the most “COMPLETE” driver that has lived. Take a look at the win in Spain 96 and the other two victories that year, or Spain 94 when stuck in 5th gear adapted his style to do most of the race and still finish 2nd or when he 4 stopped to victory in France in an inferior car. If Tiger Woods wasn’t allowed to pick up a golf club for 3 yrs then with a couple of practice rounds at a 9 hole course would he be able to go straight in and win the open or if you stopped Messi playing for the same period and went straight into the World cup final how would he do. The comeback probably was ill advised but we shouldn’t use it as a reference to his previous career.

    1. ian says:

      Have you ever heard of Stirling Moss? Complete drivers can drive anything – and without dirty tricks.

      1. Ian Court says:

        Yes I have and without sounding disrespectful to Stirling or driver’s of that era but the level of competition is not even comparable to modern day. When saying complete I refer to things like Fitnes, professionalism, work ethic, mechanical understanding and sympathy, commitmant and then driving ability. I never said Michael was the best (I believe Ayrton Senna to be) just the most complete, he changed the game just as people like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Roger Federer have done.

        The explanation for Schumacher’s struggles are as simple as explained in James’s article. He is to the best of my knowledge the only driver to get to F1 to drive in such a way of being totally reliant of the front end grip(like in Karting very pointy ) and having the nose set well before the apex and the tail drifting to follow, in other word’s not compliant with less front end grip the current chassis and tyres provide. I have absolute no doubt at all that it Schu will be a different driver in 2011 and Rosberg’s will have a serious problem on his hands dealing with him.

    2. Stuart says:

      Spot on. Could not agree more, Hungary ’98 springs to mind as a race that he should not have won but he managed it. He can and he did elevate average cars because he could take them by the scruff of the neck. So long as he gets a chance of a car that can be driven like this then he will be back to his best.

  32. Michael says:

    I don’t know if anyone saw the RoC a couple of years ago, I was at Wembley watching it live. Schumacher was very interesting that day.

    He absolutely trounced the majority of the other drivers, he was on it, it was amazing to watch. Then he got into the closed wheel car (can’t remember which one) and he was awful. It seems that when he has a car to his liking he is a racing god but the moment he feels a car isn’t right, be it tyres or whatever, there’s a mental block which stops him from performing.

    I think, if you put all the current drivers into the cars of 2000-2006 Schumacher would be equal to the top drivers and better than 90% of the rest. He just doesn’t seem comfortable in the current Mercedes. Ross has mentioned the tyres, so has Schumacher, there’s no reason not to believe them. If it was simply that he was old and slow then I think they’d probably admit it and Schumacher would call it a day. I don’t think he or Ross are the kinds of people to make excuses just to keep in the car for the sake of money.

    1. Andrey says:

      Word! That was my feeling about Schumacher too. Age may play the role too. Not necessarily by making the reflexes slower, rather by making you less able to change old reflexes into new ones required by a different driving style.

  33. Francisco says:

    The key thing for me as you mention on this blog it is the unlimited testing and unlimited budget, because of this we will never be able to find another driver winning 5 WDC in a row.

    James,
    A bit off topic. The other I have a long debate with a good friend,another F1 fan, about the merits of winning a WDC. My view is that the driver contribution is important but very small, I try to argue that “car” and “luck” play a bigger role. In my eyes the percentages are car (50%), luck (30%) and driver (20%).
    Therefore having all the luck and the best driver a team has not a chance of winning a WDC without a good car.
    I just wonder what the rest of pople think about this, maybe car counts for 75% or a driver for 30%?

    In your many years covering F1, what are your percentages?
    Just an idea for a poll. Cheers

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ve always thought it’s unbelievably hard to win a WDC and after two days on the Yas Marina driving experience I am even more certain of it. Even with a car advantage, it’s so tough to get the job done.

      1. Francisco says:

        We can only “begin” to imagine how hard must be, obviously I am asumming that being on F1 you are already a super-driver.

        By the way, after reading your posts on the test I felt so envious.

  34. Silverstone79 says:

    James, you say that these tyres do not suit his style.In the “Golden” period with Ferrari the black stuff was “made to measure” so to speak…Do you think that we should re-evaluate his career in light of these facts. If he was head and shoulders above the rest at that time he should be able to adapt now….or he wasn’t as great as people thought and the equipment played a bigger part in his success than what was originally thought to be the case…you can’t have it both ways.

    1. James Allen says:

      Not at all. Part of the game is getting it played the way you want it – that’s something Senna, Prost etc all tried to do. Schuey managed it and created a steamroller. That’s as much a secret of winning as being 3/10ths faster than the next driver!

      1. ian says:

        Maybe – but it’s possible to go too far, having the FIA in your corner for instance.

      2. Richard Mee says:

        I agree with you 100%, but it’s not quite as sexy though is it…

      3. manos says:

        yes the hole ferrari and bridgestone team were
        built around him.He had the car that he wanted at all times in the championship era 2000-2004

      4. Nick Pauro says:

        The beauty of F1 is the intrigue and chat about who does what etc, but I really can’t believe the speed in which Schuey has been rotten tomatoed!

        He has been brilliant at every team he has been at. He has been a million percent dedicated at each one. At Benetton he pushed till the end. Do you think Maclaren or anyother team have never had any gizmo that was a bit of a grey area? Did Hamilton win the championship in a completely ‘clean car’?

        Whether Schueys blue or red car was a bit dodgey or not, you cannot deny his talent to, as Mr A has said, get the game to bend to his will and skill. Do you think Prost didnt do it? That Alonso or Hamilton don’t try it? Winners have to…

        The chat that has Schuey positioned as the FIA man is also rather selective… well of course they want(ed) Schuey fighting for championships, he was the top guy, he sells tickets! But being chucked out in 97 or the punishment at Monaco hardly holds him up for onesided special treatment!

        I idolised him at the Scuderia, and I did think he almost tried to snuff out good ol’ Rubens, but give the guy a break…

        I don’t think he needed to come back, but HE DID. He is still whizzing round for 2 hours at 200mph and all the rest of it for almost 12 months… when most people his age struggle to get Ikea kit out of the box on a sunday…

        Is he really a more morally outrageous character in comparison to the footballers we see adorn the back pages?

        I think not… he’s an older Schuey who is still bloody fast… he didnt win straight out at Ferrari so why should he do the same in 2010 with a new team who have no track record of real success? He didnt win in 2005 or 06 either when tyres were a problem, but nobody said he had lost it then… Brawn lucked in last year… Mercedes didnt win a constructors for ages with Maclaren… but Schuey is a failure for not dominating?

        Criticism is fine, but the celebratory tone of some of Mick’s critics seems a bit unsporting to me…. why are people happy he isnt winning? At least he is out there…

        Buono fortuna Schuey! But sorry, Alonso has the title now!

      5. Lalit says:

        Excellent – the way you put your thougths across (and possibly also your anger at the millions of arm-chair critics that we seem to have here).

        Also James, I think this is a very assessment of Schumacher’s current situation. Good job.

        My 2 cents -
        I think for ever, Schumacher has a liking towards certain types of cars, and if he has the car setup to his liking, irrespective of how much a dog the car is with respect to opposition, he will wring speed out of it, like no one ever can in F1′s current generation.

        The problem comes, when he has a car that is a bit iffy in terms of its relative performance, and he also is not liking it – like this year’s Brawn.

        However, we need to bear some things in mind before celebrating in public that Schumi is below ordinary and lucked out, bla bla bla…. -
        First how many people can come out of retirement, on the wrong side of 40, and still be on three tenths off the pace, even in a car that he doesn’t like at all – NONE.

        I say, even if the Mercedes next year is still the 4th or 5th fastest car next year, BUT if Schumi likes the way it turns in, he will beat the daylights out of his team-mate and also achieve higher results than what the car deserves..

        So hold on to your horses and show some respect to a man who is best in his chosen field – i bet not all of you are best in your chosen fields…

  35. Jim says:

    So Schumacher was only as good as he was due to a contract with the tyre supplier?

    How was this contract allowed to take place?

    How many races would he have won without this contract?

    Doesn’t seem very fair to me. Like one golfer defining the length, weight and balance of the clubs and everybody else in the tournament having to use the same spec.

    1. BMG says:

      Still tough old dog to pass just ask Webber and Rubins.
      The reason schumacher is struggling is the ban on testing.
      When he was at ferrari they would have unlimited testing and an unlimited budgets and if he damaged one car he would just jump into a new one.

  36. Racehound says:

    Until this season I was never a Schumacher fan….couldnt stand the bloke and thought he was an ordinary driver amongst a field of no-hopers when he won 5 titles with Ferrari…the best team make the best car and he was lucky to have his a55 in it. Before this season kicked off I was hoping he would do well because he was brave enough to give it a go, but alongside Nico it has been a complete disaster, no doubt about that!! All the excuses from Ross and Mercedes cannot hide that fact now…..I feel vindicated in my assessment that Schumi would never have been a real threat to Ayrton Senna had Ayrton gone straight to Ferrari instead of trying to grab 2 free titles with Wallys FW16…it was supposed to be the best car out there but without all the “active” extras it turned out to be a total pig!! And can we all now assume it is accepted fact that Ayrtons steering column DID fail completely before the car left the track, because everybody else in the pitlane knew that before the restarted race had ended!!!! For Schumacher to have left his comfortable pay packet with Ferrari indicates he was under a lot of pressure last year to spearhead Mercedes assault on the titles this year with Ross, so I give him credit for that, but as far as real God-given talent goes, I rest my case!! He would never have been a real challenge to the great Ayrton Senna!!!! #:)

    1. Diarmuid says:

      Is that why almost every single commentator and race driver was saying how incredible this Schumacher kid was back in 1991/92?

    2. James D says:

      I’m not so sure… people tend not to realise how highly regarded Schumacher was in the 1990s. I remember hearing a clip of Alan Jones in 1997 saying “thank goodness Michael Schumacher isn’t in a Williams or there’d be no contest.” Also there’s a comment from Brundle (someone who’s been very hard on Schumacher this year) from 1994 on YouTube. He says in a straight fight, in the same car he thinks Schumacher would beat Senna.

    3. For Sure says:

      Comeon you are talking about F1. Every world class driver is a threat to another.
      Mansell won it while Senna was on the track.

  37. Anthony Marte says:

    James why do you say he didnt look very special compared to Nakajima?

    If I remember correctly he scored 34.5 points to Nakajima’s zero in last year money and out-qualified him 14-3. Thats special.

    Webber’s another story, but he was a rookie.

    1. James Allen says:

      Well in year 2 he was clearly much stronger, but in year 1 Kazuki wasn’t far off at times. Rosberg should have murdered him at all times

  38. Tyler says:

    Having a perfect car is every drivers dream. Isnt the evidence of a true driver the ability to deal with and improvise around the equipment given him? Theres no denying MS talent, but it seems a lot of PR speak for someone who just isnt performing. Alonso, Webber, Hamilton, Vettel, Button have all managed these tires… if MS needs the entire team and chassis structured around him to put in a fast lap…. I think Mercedes has to question the bang for its buck.

  39. Rm says:

    James it pains me deeply to see what has become of Schumacher!!
    This is the man who defined what F1 is all about….epitome of greatness.
    Do you think he has it in him like Rocky Balboa to go one last round?

    1. James Allen says:

      If he has the car next year, I think he can still do something, but clearly he isn’t what he was

  40. George says:

    F1 is car racing at its peak and very competitive. If you take Schumi under this scenario is understandable that his situation is complex. Winning in F1 is not easy. Just take the example of Button or Webber after years of racing, eventually they got their chances (with a better car)
    Michael is not a magician, although we have seen some magic in the past due to long work hours, strategy, plannning and dedication.
    Unfortunately he is paired with a young talent, Nico is young, ambitious, fast and have raced in F1 in the last years. Michael is more senior, more experience but has not raced in the last years. That makes a huge difference.

    I think it is very memorable (‘and we have to recognize this’) the fact that Michael goes out and race every weekend, even knowing that he may not win but he is ‘still’ out there and fighting. This has shown us that under all his glory, there is a human person, humble, ready to take on the world and fight back.

    As he said in one interview, the most precious thing he learn from F1 was PATIENCE. So, we shall see what comes up. He has done it before and he will do it again. PATIENCE

  41. Kev says:

    James, thank you very much for doing this article. It feels good to hear Ross reaffirming his faith in Schumi and not acting like a few others who are determined to make most out of Schumi’s bad run.

    If the narrow front tires are going to stay next year, how do you think Schumi is going to overcome the issue with it?

    Also Massa has had trouble with the tires this year. Does this relate to the narrow front tire too?

  42. CT says:

    Bridgstone started again in F1 in 97, didn’t they?

    The 96 Ferrari was a dog, and was on Goodyears (i.e. not bespoke Bridgestone)

    The MS who made monkeys out of the entire field in a dog of a car at a sodden Barcelona on bog standard tyres …… where did HE go?

  43. Lobo says:

    Assuming they come up with a better car, stronger tires and provided he is given some time to test, he still needs to come on top within the team. Rosberg is not the brightest driver out there and still he’s doing a decent job with what has been given to him. Who says Schumacher is going to beat him right away as he did in the old days. Unless, of course the team decides that Rosberg needs the #2 treatment (they know the drill). This reminds me of good-ol Johnny Herberth, when Benetton refused him permission to compare both drivers’ settings and telemetry. That’s what Mercedes needs to do and then, maybe the German will start shinning once again.

  44. Curro says:

    “Brawn admits in the interview that if it were any other driver, he would not be retained.”

    Some statement coming from RB.

    This talk about “it’s the slow corners which hurt me” I always find ridiculous. Schumacher’s driving has looked extremely ragged all year. I did not see him beating Rosberg before the season started and I do not see him doing any better next year.

    At the time, I thought Brazil 2006 was a great day for the sport, for not only did MS drive a fantastic race to recover from his early puncture, but his departure from F1 brought new hope for a cleaner, more fair standard of driving. How he can put such a brave face when the Buttons and the Webbers destroy him race after race this year puzzles me.

    1. chris says:

      It is clear though that the Mercedes cannot be compared to Buttons Mclaren and certainly not Webbers Red Bull.

    2. For Sure says:

      But he did beat both in an inferior car in some races despite being 41 years old and 3 years off.

  45. James D says:

    “a rather odd one man campaign by former team owner Eddie Jordan”

    Well put… the amount of stirring Jordan has done regarding Schumacher is quite ridiculous. I’m surprised how much attention his comments about having a “hunch” that Schumacher will leave in Monza was given in the press.

  46. sender says:

    James,

    I do not think that anyone needs to re-evaluate Rosberg. I am surprised that you say that. I did not expect it from you. I agree that against Webber he did not look that special, but he was miles better than Nakajima. It was so evident.
    This season Niko has proved something, although he did not have to prove anything to anyone. I doubt that Mercedes took him only for commercial reasons or because of a beautiful smile. He is a decent driver, pretty consistent and definitely not very far from the likes of Vettel or Kubica. I do not buy the hype of Sebastian and Robert and agree with those people who also don’t buy it.
    Besides, who says that Schumacher’s powers have waned? As I understand it, Brawn denies it.

    To salvage some dignity, Schumacher needs a good car, but first and foremost he needs to compete with his teammate. If Rosberg will win some races but Schumacher only scores podiums without wins, then there will be no dignity.
    Before this season a lot of people said that after some time Michael will completely outperform Nico. It has not happened. Now some people try to adjust to the situation and set minor goals. I hope that the team really knows why Michael and the car is struggling.

  47. moschum says:

    absolutely, when i watch the old races, i hardly ever watch anything from 2001-2004 (and i have the entire collection).

    its the seasons where he was building up the car with ferrari, and also in 2005, (not to mention the epic fight back in 2006) where he proved he was the no.1 driver, time and time again.

    2005 was probably his best year ever, managing to finish 3rd in the championship. Look where rubens ended up.

  48. Stephen Acworth says:

    Surely Eddie Jordan’s bitterness comes from the way he screwed up MSC’s first contract with Jordan Racing which allowed Briatore to steal him away to Benetton after his debut at Spa. Just think how much more EJ would have been able to sell his team for if it had garnered some of the success MSC brought to Benetton. Framed that way, I don’t see it as such a big mystery. EJ is just mad at himself and blames MSC for his own shortcomings!!!

    1. sender says:

      That sounds reasonable. Maybe there is something more to it. Something that took place behind the scenes and we do not know it. I am almost sure that most of the insiders know what is wrong but they will not tell it in public.

  49. Stig says:

    James, a quick question about the 2010-tyres;

    Are they very different compared to tyres of previous years, meaning next years tyres and beyond will be something more normal and closer to previous years(so shumi can play too)? Still I feel he should be performing better.. Also sloppy at exits I have noticed.

    Shumi in a competitive car next year could make the WDC even better.

    Also regarding raikkonen – do you think RBR are asking him to get a year at Renault to get a handle for the tyres for when Webber leaves?

    What if Webber wins – do you think he will retire this year then(and make room for Kimi)?

  50. Owen says:

    I don’t think the greatest F1 driver in history has to prove anything to anyone… his record speaks for itself.

    Fact is Schumacher is human and getting older which must count for something, and if he is unable to work the car and the tyres given to him AND not allowed to develop them to suit his style he is going to be slower.

    I for one am really proud that Schumacher is back out there and giving it his all, that’s all that anyone can ask.

  51. Ryan Eckford says:

    I believe what Brawn is saying about Schumacher and his problems. If it was the rear tyres that didn’t work, then Schumacher would be murdering Rosberg. At the moment, it is the front tyres that are not working, which means that Rosberg has the advantage over Schumacher. This car is clearly suited best to Jenson Button, who hates driving a type of car that Schumacher likes.

    The only cars this year that suit every type of driving style are the Red Bulls, Ferraris and McLarens, which are the only cars capable of winning the championship. The only cars that suit no driving style at all are the three new teams because they have little grip with the front or rear tyres, and these type of cars are totally uncompetitive, so you can’t judge anyone driving in these cars. All the rest have cars which suit one driving style over the other. This is the midfield part of grid.

    If I am the boss of a F1 team, these are my rules to dropping a driver:
    1. If a driver is way off the pace consistantly in a championship contending team, I will be dropping that driver.
    2. If a driver in a midfield team is struggling because his driving style is different to his teammate, then that driver can’t be dropped.
    3. If a driver in a midfield team has a similar driving style to his teammate and is way off the pace, I will be dropping that driver.
    4. A driver cannot be dropped from the lower teams as their cars are total uncompetitive and you can’t judge a driver’s competitiveness under these conditions.
    5. You must use your own discretion in the decision-making process.

    If possible James, could you have a look at all the current drivers in F1 and their driving styles, ranking their style on a 1 to 10 scale, with 1 being understeer and 10 being oversteer, please?

  52. Andrew Carter says:

    The one and only factor that will decide whether we see the old Schumy or not next year is the Pirelli tyres. If the fronts can take the massive loadings that Michael is trying to put through them, loadings that the Bridgestones havn’t been designed to accept, then regardless of how good or bad next years car is he will make it dance and will get the best from it, just as Nico is doing now.

    All this talk about the best drivers adapting their style to suit any car is a load of guff. How many drivers do people know off that have actually changed their style to its complete antithesis to drive what is an extremely complex car, both in its technology and in the details of how the aero and tyres work, and maintained that change over an entire season? I’m going to bet the answer is none.

    Its worth noting that a number of drivers are having trouble with the Bridgestone fronts (Massa being the other front runner), so maybe we’re aiming the criticism in the wrong place?

  53. Edson Framil says:

    know what… i’m tired of people saying it’s on the car or Bridgestones account for the not so great performance this year…
    to me it’s simple and plain as i’ll say now: he doesn’t cope well with things that are different from what he likes, meaning that he only achieved the level of success he had because someone gave conditions for him to do so, otherwise we would NEVER been 7 time Weltmeister, max 3 or 4 times

  54. John says:

    No problem Michael, Ross will just remove some fuel filters, install launch & traction control, measure bargeboards with his “special” tools, and if worse comes to worse you can always use the car as a weapon…or track blocking device.

    It’s F1. The car is the primary concern. Alex Yooung could have won in Michael’s “special” B194 and dominated in the F2002 with his wingman Tonto…er I mean Rubens.

    When I watch Michael now I think of three things: either “this wine is corked”, Michael was ordinary in special cars, or Rosberg is the greatest thing to ever step foot into an F1 car….EVER!

  55. jude says:

    Could Michael’s problem be the same reason why Massa is struggling; considering the fact that Massa crystallized his skills around Michael?

  56. antonio says:

    Actually there is a god above and ms is just getting his reward for all the cheating of 94 97 etc illegal traction control, launch control, punting damon out,trying to punt jv out,parking the car on the racing line at monaco,having slave teammates,winning the british gp while parked in the pits……the list is endless and through it all ross brawn was by his side aiding and abbeting him……at least now the world can see that he is not the amazing talent he was made out to be …..the emperor has lost his clothes

  57. David G says:

    In my opinion MS has made a bad favour to himself coming back…also leaves me thinking that:

    a) MS won many titles because of the extraordinary advantage he got during his ferrari years, specially with the unlimited testing and private track from Ferrari. Im not saying he is a bad driver but put 10 of the current drivers in that ferrari car with the bridgestones made up to suit the car/driving style and will also win 5 championships

    b) He has lost it, if he ever had it. I dont think he was ever anything special, dont get me wrong he is a good driver, but nothing special. If he were the real deal and such a good driver and legend he would adapt to the tyres, not the opposite way. A young man (and talented) like Nico Rosberg has been able to do it, why the greatest legend doesnt do it is difficult to be justified…To be a good driver means not only be good when the car suits you but also be able to adapt to different circunstances, cars, tyres, conditions, etc. Ok, he has been out of the sport 3 years, but the season is about to finish and his results and differences with his teammates hasnt been better for him, in fact they have been much worse than at the beginning of the season

    c) He is all over the place every race and being outpaced by his teammate, and even if Mercedes had by far the fastest car in all the field he would be right now just the #2 driver in the championship

    All this sound to me like lame excuses from the most overrated driver in F1 history and one who at least by me will be remembered more by his unsportman conduct and his frustrated comeback than for the titles he has.

  58. Chris says:

    Oh come off it James, I know you are completely blinkered when it come to Mr Schumacher but this is bordering on the ridiculous. Eddie Jordan certainly isn’t the only one criticising Mr Schumacher, most of the paddock are together with most of the press and most of the fans apart from those so blinkered as not to able to see.
    A racing driver’s job is to drive the car he’s given to the utmost of his ability and to adapt his driving to the car, that’s a proper driver and that’s what Rosberg has done very successfully this year. You seem to be saying that MS is incapable of driving any other car than one that exactly fits his needs, in other words he’s a one trick pony and in that I agree with you. It’s an even playing field already and if he can’t compete in it then he should get out before he completely destroys his reputation.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m not saying that at all. Nor am I apologising for him. He’s made his bed he must lie in it.

  59. Derek Lorimer says:

    Michael is not driving at the same level when he left F1. I suspect that he is carrying an injury from his motor cycle accident that has not healed as fast as he would have liked.

    I still believe a fit Schumacher in a car that he has confidence in could beat any current driver in Formula One

  60. nealeg says:

    Some of the comments on here are ridiculous, but I do think that 2010 has given us a different perspective on Schumacher.

    I don’t know too many people who didn’t think he wouldn’t beat Rosberg (who, incidentally, I thought James was a bit harsh on – he always struck me as better than the car at Williams) this season. He’s just not found his groove.

    Schumacher’s admitted that he can’t be the same driver he was at 25 but that he’s able to fight with the big boys by using his experience. Ross Brawn says he’s the same driver in terms of reactions and what have you, but not in the slow corners, which is where all the time is in F1.

    For what it’s worth, I think he’s never been as good as his statistics make out, even before this season. You can only beat what’s in front of you but his biggest rival in terms of pure pace was Mika Hakkinen, who nearly died in 1995 and arguably was never as good as he might have been without that accident at Adelaide. Everyone else he was racing after Senna’s death – and that obviously does not include his team-mates – were not up to it – Hill, Villeneuve, Fisichella, Berger, Alesi, Coulthard, Frentzen, Ralf, Raikkonen, Montoya (although the latter two were just lazy, JPM was a better racer than Schumacher for sure and Kimi was as quick or quicker over one lap).

    Then Alonso comes along, gets the Renault team and Michelin tyres behind him in a Schumacher-esque way, and beats Schumi in 2005 and 2006, which effectively retired him.

    Since then, F1 has moved on in almsot every respect and the best drivers now are all much of a muchness. Alonso gets the ‘Schumacher’ treatment, as he did at Renault, only he’s doing it on the same tyres as everyone else, without limitless testing and without the constant whiffs of controversy that dogged Schumacher as regards the legality of his car and the ethics of his driving.

    In short, Schumacher was brilliant because he honed a great natural talent, added hard work to the mix, got the team with the biggest budget to back him wholeheartedly and beat a middling bunch of drivers in mostly inferior equipment.

    Now in his early 40s, none of that is the case any more and he can never again be what he was.

  61. Brian says:

    To anyone that has competed in motorsport, ‘FEEL’ is the biggest part of the equation, but is also the most subjective and hardest to achieve.

  62. For Sure says:

    Wow it seems that there are a lot of people who wants to kick a dog when he is down.

    But it seems that a lot of those don’t understand that you can’t learn a lot without testing. Even those champions at their prime, took half a season to adapt the tyres with plenty of testing. James may be you should educate those a bit more.

  63. Hardy says:

    I think the cowardly comments from Eddie/ Brundel show more lacking in themselves than in Michael. Eunuchs in the harem, been there, seen it all but could not do it if they tried.
    Brawn is no idiot and if he can still see Michael has it then he deserves his seat at Merc.

  64. Chaz says:

    Michael Schumacher is no different than any athlete around the world,This comeback was an ego trip,because he did not want to be a full time husband or father. Remember his wife filed for divorce early this year,When your at home no one cheers for you,his wife does not want to travel across the world with her kids any more,But this jerk came back for the wrong reasons.Nico is beating you period,stop using the excuse about your tires and front end of the car is not suited for his driving sytle,Ross shame on you.Norbert Haug will change things up at the end of the season, I do not belive Schumacher will be back in 2011,untill so lets wait and see when Adrian Sutil,Nico Hulkenburg,Kimi Raikkonen, Sabastian Vettel sign their new contracts for 2011 none of them have. stay tuned

  65. For Sure says:

    James, I would like to ask something regarding the evolution of this sport. I know it’s sound strange but I will take guitar as an example.
    Eddie Van Helen invented or popularized certain guitar techniques, namely “tapping”. He was the king because no-one had a clue how at the time. But nowadays, you can see so many teenagers who can not only easily do what Eddie did, but also took those techniques to a complete different level at this internet age.
    Now my question is that does it work like that in driving?
    I mean guys like Gills or Senna made others looked like they don’t know what they were doing in the rain. And Schumacher probably studied those and did similar things. Nowadays, I am sure most drivers tried to study certain driving techniques and if we can bring back a 30 years old Schumacher/Senna, do you think they will look as good as they were at their time?

    1. James Allen says:

      funnily enough we were having that exact conversation with Johnny Herbert on the bus at the Yas Marina event this week. He said that every generation raises the bar in sport. I don’t think Hamilton and Alonso are more talented than Senna or Schumacher, but the standard required is higher because the cars are closely matched and reliable. It’s the same with football, tennis etc

      1. Ibrahim M says:

        Interesting discussion. I have played high level amateur basketball growing up, and I always watched big stars videos (i.e. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird etc…) before every game to get my self pumped up mainly, bet then I noticed that sometimes you can get some hints from their way of playing.
        I am not sure how much young drivers can learn from F1 drivers by just watching on the telly, I guess you would need to look at telemetry to be able to really appreciate what they are doing in the cockpit.
        This is why I feel that Jacky Stewart’s comments that F1 Drivers could benefit from coaches is very valid in many cases. I know that you have eluded to this topic before as well James.
        What are your thoughts?

  66. CanadaGP says:

    The man is 41. Though I am not a top class racing driver, I am now 50 and there are dozens of things I can not do at the same level as I did at the age of 30. James’ previous posts on the Yas Marina experience just underlines the fact that racing drivers are athletes and like any athlete, they can get old past their prime. Does anyone think Federer, Nadal, Messi, etc. will be just as good in their sports when they are 41. I thought not.

  67. Seifenkistler says:

    I’ve been a trainer of soccer youth teams for years. There are different types too:

    The talents: They have a natural feeling for the ball and training is just to learn the way their teammates run and react.

    The workers: They continue training on their own: they do 100 free kicks a week to perfect their shooting.

    But how will a world soccer champion ends if FIFA and UEFA decide to limit training to one hour a week, players are not allowed to touch a ball for rest of the week.

    Will the talents win mountainhigh over the workers? Or do they get injuries and laughter because their pass play, even technically perfect, is far way from the teammate who was running left and not right and shakes his head?

    Or will they run into brutal tacklings and injuries because they are not used to jump above tackler anymore with just one hour training? Will a hard playing style win in this case?

    Hamilton got many points by aggresisve driving, but other drivers get used to it and don’t stick up anymore.

    Schumi was a very talented worker, but the balance more on the working part. I don’t think that any driver would have won with the Ferrari’s. He taught them to train pit stops, listen to his feedback and all this. In the long run Alonso now takes advantage of the professionality Schumi brought to Ferrari.

  68. balint says:

    I just cant see that Schumacher is that bad. Please put everything in perspective and you will see that Schumacher is doing very good in these terms: Look at those who skipped at least half a year in F1 and returned recently:

    - Badoer in the Ferrari last year
    - Heidfeld in the Sauber this very time
    - Massa in the Ferrari this year

    most likely it is the tyre really….I remember it took some time for Raikkonen and Alonso (both very talented) to get used to the Bridgestones even when they did not skip a race!!

    I think in these terms, Schu is not doing bad, on the contrary…with the massive 3 years hiatus factored in I venture to say that He is doing better than any other “quasi rookie”!

    and also please note that I am a massive Mclaren/Hamilton fan!

  69. Alex says:

    Oh, dear. In a way what happened with Michael for me just shows how difficult, how complex this sport really is. I remember how Hill suddenly lost speed in 1999. How Zanardi, the man who demolished his rivals in CART, couldn’t score a point. How Badoer was seconds off the pace in a Ferrari. How Fisichella got Pole in one race, changed car in the next one and was absolutely nowhere.
    What happened with Michael is normal. Unexpected, but normal, unfortunarely. Still, for me he is the best I have ever watched. In his glory days he was head and shoulders above anything I have seen from any driver.

  70. Matthew says:

    All drivers who have come back after an absence have struggled. Also, I think Brawn is professional and smart enough to recommend that Schumi retires – since he hasn’t done that, I firmly believe there is a lot more from Schumacher to come.

  71. Ram says:

    If Schumacher won so many races and c’ship under Ferrari then what is wrong?. Ultimately everyone is looking to be at the best possible car. Without being talented how wud Ferrari have picked him up in their team? Its common in any sport/field that we want to get the best car/team/project/work so that we cud be successful!. Is my assessment wrong?. So its utter non-sense to say Schumacher won just because of the best car. He put in performances to get the best possible car in the field.

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