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Schumacher pushing the opposition already
Schumacher pushing the opposition already
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Aug 2009   |  6:27 am GMT  |  76 comments

Michael Schumacher has only been back in Formula 1 for a couple of days and already he’s at the centre of a controversy, albeit one which says more about the state of the sport than about him and Ferrari.

Schumacher does not simply have to get back up to speed, he has much to learn about the 2009 cars before he makes his dramatic comeback at the European Grand Prix in Valencia on 23 August. They have adjustable front wings and above all the Ferrari has KERS, which he needs to learn how to use. So Ferrari understandably requested that the other teams allow him one day to test the car. And understandably the teams were not in a position to unanimously agree to that. So it will not happen.

Why should a seven times world champion get a day to familiarise himself with the car when a total novice, Jaime Alguersuari was denied that opportunity before his debut in Budapest and presumably Romain Grosjean will have no such luxury before he replaces Nelson Piquet?

No reason at all, but you’d have to say that as F1 is supposed to be about excellence, it’s a bad rule which forces all of these men to go into their big weekend poorly prepared.

Schumacher’s knowledge of the F60 will be merely what he can glean from sessions on the FIAT simulator, which is not as sophisticated as the McLaren one.

But for the 2009 cars the simulator lacks one key ingredient, which is an understanding of the way these tyres need to be ‘switched on’ and how difficult it is to do that. We have seen some extraordinary things this season, with slow cars suddenly putting on an amazing turn of speed or supposedly fast cars like the Brawn, unable to get the tyres working and toiling around to get poor results. Ferrari have had their fair share of these problems this year, I’ve sat in many a post race media debrief with Stefano Domenicali shaking his head about the tyres not working. This will be the area of most concern and focus once Schumacher has learned when to push the KERS button.

Schumacher will do plenty of real testing however; he is allowed to get back up to speed using a 2007 car, the one in which Raikkonen won the world championship. Although the F1 factory is on enforced closure for two weeks, the Corsa Clienti division, which manages and runs old Ferrari cars on behalf of wealthy customers, is managing Schumacher’s programme. He ran at Mugello yesterday on GP2 slick tyres.

These days are important because, aside from reconditioning his muscles to the demands of driving an F1 car, Schumcher’s brain will not be up to speed. To start with the car will be ahead of him. I remember interviewing Ayrton Senna when he came back in February 1993 to test not having driven a car since the previous November and he spoke very interestingly about the time it had taken for his brain to catch up with the speed of the car. Schumacher is less poetic than Senna was, but he will no doubt be very interesting on the subject.

I’m in Italy at the moment and the return of “il campionissimo’ is getting people very excited here. It will inject some interest into a disappointing campaign for Ferrari and will give a lot of motivation to the team members themselves.

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The way this is being reported, you’d think that the majority of people think Schumacher should test, but from this poll, it is clear that most fans are fair and agree that he shouldn’t be allowed to test.For more details


Exciting times for formula one brings me back to the times of mansell in 1994 when he made his four guest appearances & capping it off with a brilliant win in australia, I hope schumacher wins some races and blows the williams and the red bulls away at the end of the day its not he same schumacher who dominated the sport for years give the guy a chance to test it is clear red bull and williams must be running scared schumacher is already disadvantaged by been out the car for nearly 3 years he`s 40 years old and is coming back to something what is totally different to what he last drove, but it is clear to most he still carries the aura of greatness.


If Schumacher can’t keep up with the “new” boys who’s fault will it be?

Blame it on Williams and Red Bull why not?

I don’t see him being too far behind though, I’m not a Ferrari/Schumacher fan, but I don’t think it will take him too long to get up to speed.

And, if I read between the lines correctly he will have seven races this year.


I new that Bernie had power – but how on earth did he get that spring to hit the right driver at just the right point on the track – must have been some Harry Pottor magic…

I don’t like MS, but fair play – this is gonna be awsome – some good publicity for the 1st time since before Melbourne

The big question is, do i cancel my music festival tickets that weekend so i can Schui back in business??

Somehow, i don’t think my mrs would be to keen to miss out on 5 days of partying just to see a F1 race



This is surely the FIA once again making themselves look stupid,they bang on all the time about driver safety issues and then come up with this testing ban,they would have been better off,by inserting a clause that any team changing drivers during the season were allowed a 1-2 day test for the new driver,which had to be observed by someone appointed by the FIA,and that the car was only allowed to be the same setup as the previous race which they would know from the stewards scrutineering.


Williams have refused to the test, and I think rightly so. Ferrari would gain an advantage from it.

The only way I think he should be able to test if all of the teams can for one day, otherwise it is simply unfair. I don’t know how practical a test day would be, but it’s the only solution. Otherwise he shouldn’t be allowed to.


James, with respect I think its unfair to portray MS that way.

As Huag pointed out Jamie and TR never requested a written letter like Ferrari did. I think it is an indirect challenge to the rules, and I suppose, you have to be someone like MS to influence the decisions that has to be made.

If you think about it, god knows how many millions teams spend on the nuts behind the wheels and yet, the sport finest driver(and other newcomers) are not allowed to prepare for the races because of the cost cutting measures. This raise a lot of questions to those who are paying to watch Michael Schumacher driving in Valencia.

It doesn’t look good in public domain and I think MS and other new drivers should be allowed to prepare.


This is great motivation for everybody, Michael is a seven time world champion and he retired to soon.

This will motivate is team, the drivers, the other teams and the fans. It´s fantastic.

Ferrrari couldn´t choose nobody else because there aren´t many good drivers available at the moment.

I wouldn´t bet against him winning again, but it will be difficult.


David, I beg to differ. James is totally correct. ferrari were not forced to bring back schumacher – it is totally their choice.

In some respects it is worse than that. They have 2 reserve drivers. It was ferrari’s choice not to run one of them at Hungary. If they had done so they could be running a driver at Valencia who had knowledge of this years car and driven a whole race only a month before – rather than an aging driver who has not run competitively for the best part of 3 years.


I dont think u can field a reserve driver after qualifying only for the race!… Nope u cant


The rules state that a driver may be substituted after qualifying in the case of a “force majeure” – such as Massa’s crash.

In some respects ferrari should be fined for not fielding a second driver in Hungary. In these days of such limited testing it could be argued that they were also foolish not to have run one of their test / third drivers.

This whole situation could have been avoided if teams were only allowed to run drivers who had been nominated at the start of the season – or perhaps only drivers holding a super licence at the start of a season.


Fair point mate, fair point…


Fans don’t pay to watch under-prepared cars/drivers race during F1 weekends.

The whole test ban is stupid and should be lifted.


@James Allen

“Why should a seven times world champion get a day to familiarise himself with the car when a total novice, Jaime Alguersuari was denied that opportunity before his debut in Budapest and presumably Romain Grosjean will have no such luxury before he replaces Nelson Piquet?

No reason at all…”

I beg to differ James – STR got rid of Bourdais mid-season on their own volition. It was their CHOICE. Ditto Renault with Piquet.

So the fact that Alguersuari and Grosjean won’t get any testing time is irrelevant – Schumacher is standing in for an injured driver due to exceptional circumstances. Ferrari didn’t CHOOSE to get rid of Massa.


Ah! But didn’t Ferrari choose MS over other drivers who are familiar with the car so would not require the time in the car?

Whilst I’m not suggesting that one of the reasons they chose MS over better qualified(?) aspirants was that they would get extra time in testing . . . oh, all right, that’s precisely what I’m saying.

If I was a Ferrari ‘test driver’ I’d be a wee bit miffed at this precise moment.


Jaime Alguersuari was denied the opportunity to test as STR did not bother to ask the FIA for special permission. Ferrari is simply more awake.


James, i have a question for you on the lines of “Practise for Schumacher’s return”. I understand that Ferrari was put into this situation and Torro Rosso made the change. I beleive its fair for a practice day (not a real testing). I have heard a lot of people complain about Jamie not getting a practise day and schumi MIGHT!.. STR did not ask for it and Ferrari did. Also Ferrari were unfortunate that something happened to Massa. What is your thoughts? Can the rules be changed if all the teams and FIA agree? I believe a unanimous aggreement can.


Which team refused the testing request?

The FOTA teams are reported to each have agreed, so was it Williams or Force India?

My guess would be Williams.


I don’t think he should be allowed to test the 2009 car – the testing ban is there for all, and if Torro Rosso had to abide by the rules with Alguersuari then so do Ferrari. There are 3 free-practice sessions before qualifying and that should be enough for him.

Many will say “but Schumacher has been retired for 3 years, and hasn’t driven an F1 car for 2” – all of which is true, but that’s tough luck on Ferrari. They knew all of this when they chose Schumacher to fill in for Massa, and they made their choice because of his undoubted strengths behind the wheel and in motivating the team – but they should also have to suffer the downsides of him not having driven in anger for a while.

Others will say that Alguersuari has recent race experience in GP2 that Schumacher does not have. But Schumacher raced in F1 for 15 years and won 7 titles – don’t try and say he’s not capable because that’s rubbish. Nobody (FIA or FOTA) offered a test session to Torro Rosso or Alguersuari, and he did ok. Schumacher will do better than ‘ok’ – because he’s that good.

If they wanted a driver with experience of 2009 F1 cars they could have chosen somebody else – Bourdais or Piquet Jr. aren’t busy at the moment for example. Or the Scuderia could have chosen either of their own two test drivers Badoer and Gene – but they chose Schumacher and must therefore take the rough with the smooth. Ferrari can’t have it all their own way.

As ever Ferrari are trying to squeeze every advantage from every situation, which is what won them so many titles in recent years, but in this case the rules are the same for everybody and if Ferrari feel Schumacher is not ready then he shouldn’t race, and they should pick somebody else.


I don not agree with James. it is true that MS has a lot to learn, but I do not think it would be difficult as you portray it. he is MS after all.


F1 Technical ( is reporting that FOTA has agreed to the test?! How must Alguersuari feel? If MS gets a small test in a relatively superior car, then Jaime should have got a whole week. I can only assume that Grosjean will get a test too? I can’t believe that MS is pushing the boundaries like this already. It’s traction control at Benneton and barge boards at Ferrari all over again. This kind of thing will always tarnish him in my mind.


Re : Jaime Alguersuari was denied that opportunity before his debut in Budapest and presumably Romain Grosjean will have no such luxury before he replaces Nelson Piquet?.

Do we know if Toro Rosso asked or if Renault have?


How do you think the drivers (those that were there in 2006 and earlier) will feel in general about the return of Schumacher? He obviously wasn’t Mr Popularity amongst the other drivers and IIRC got a bit of a slow clap out of the last drivers briefing?!


James, STR brought in Jaime Alguersserie for performance reasons relating to Bourdais, Ferrari lost Massa through an accident – surely it’s different when asking for one day’s testing in Schu’s case?

John Howlett of Toyota stated that the FOTA teams are fine for Schumacher to test the 09 car. So it might work out alright.


I’m really looking forward to it! (3 weeks are going to take ages!)

there is already a storm brewing FIA are going to investigate the tyres that was used by Schumacher.


we have to go back to some in season testing even if only for rookie drivers or replacement drivers to a team.Safety is being compromised because of cost this is a recipe for disaster.

The slow development of cars this year is a direct result of this policy and the season has suffered for it.


It seems only that if Jaime wasn’t allowed a little time in an current F-1 car,that it wouldn’t be fair yo allow Michael Schumaker time in one. His huge experience should allow him to get through Valencia with out too many problems, and should he deal with the weekend in a similar manner as did Jaime, he should probably have a good if not great day, but God help everyone else come Spa, Monza and Suzuka.

I respect Michael greatly for his accomplishments in F-1m but I resented the way he behaved at times during his career. Many of his victories ring hollow for me, but many weren’t happy with Senna, although I always liked him best, and in my own opinion he was the best. I quit watching F1 for a couple of years after his passing,as it just wasn’t the same without him. As michael improved, I started watching again, but always with reservations as to the way Schu treated the sport, and the way both his team and the sport treated him.

with that said, I’m just as anxious an excited to see him drive again, and hope he can find his previous level before Felipe returns. But the bottom line for me is that I want Felipe back, as I fell hims the true sportsman and gentleman of the sport at this time. I like other drivers as well but the way Felipe dealt with his final race last season was something everyone should teach their children and keep in mind for their own behavior as well.

With regard to the lack of testing allowed in F1 , it’s my opinion that teams should be reday to , an allowed to test on Thursdays. This would give the promoters a little boost in revenues, the fans a little more excitement, and allowing one more engine or the use of older engins would not cause undue hardship to the budgets of the teams. If F1 is the pinnacle of motor sport, why is it that they are forced to race under these circumstances, with so little time to sort and test. Testing is where F1 developes. To reducw it to these present levels, detracts from it’s ability to maintain its prominance.



no past or current f1 driver has a brain like the red baron,23 days of studying everything possible while other drivers are on a holiday relaxing their brains,come valencia he wil know everything there is to know about new setups of the car etc.

choc ice kid can say it doesnt bother him but he wil need a even more wide brimmed hat to hide his failings at ferrari this year and last.if your being payed millions to be a professional then you should act like it,one will show up in valencia.

Graham O'Reilly

I’ve been going on about the need to have a couple of mid-season test days for a while. This is the chance to rectify this silliness. And at the same time offer a day for Jaime and Grosjean, and any other third driver who might need one. Fairness should be satisfied, and the role of third drivers, which used to be important, brought back into the equation. Something really needs to be done about this.

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