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The latest on Schumacher’s new engineer at Mercedes
The latest on Schumacher’s new engineer at Mercedes
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Jan 2010   |  7:35 pm GMT  |  110 comments

I’ve had a lot of enquiries in the last few days about who will engineer Michael Schumacher at Mercedes. Many people wanted to know which of the two Brawn engineers he might get or whether Michael would be hiring in one of his ex Ferrari engineers.

Picture 63
I’ve contacted the team and the answer is that Schumacher will work with Andrew Shovlin, who engineered Jenson Button to the world championship last season. I’m sure they will get on well, Shovlin is experienced, calm and very intelligent. He’s a real family man and a very nice person, as well as a fiercely competitive individual. He’s 36, hails from Liverpool and was Button’s engineer for six seasons.

Nico Rosberg will be engineered by Jock Clear, who steered Jacques Villeneuve to the 1997 world championship with Williams. Clear is also extremely competitive and this will make for an interesting dynamic as Rosberg certainly did not expect to be sharing Mercedes with Schumacher when he signed on the dotted line in Autumn of last year and it could go either way for him. If he’s overshadowed it could affect him badly, but if he beats Schumacher it will raise his stock immensely.

This is probably a sound choice as Clear and Villeneuve developed quite an aggressive attitude towards Schumacher in 1997 leading up to the infamous clash at the final race in Jerez, when Schumacher attempted to drive Villeneuve off the road.

When I was researching the biography of Schumacher I wrote in 2006, Clear gave me some invaluable insights into their mentality with regard to racing against Schumacher,

‘Jacques and I worked out quite early on that Michael would lose if you put him under a huge amount of pressure, ‘ said Clear, speaking in early 2007. ‘He lost the 1998 world championship to Hakkinen by stalling on the grid. I mean who stalls on the grid for heaven’s sake?

‘It’s that kind of situation where he knows he’s not very good and he does everything he possibly can do to avoid ever being in that situation. Jerez was one of those rare occasions when it was down to ‘me against you’ for the title, on the track. Adelaide was another one, Damon put him under pressure, he lost concentration and hit the wall. In those situations he knows he’s not very good and his coping strategy for that situation is ‘I know I’m going to f** it up but I’ll still come out the winner.’ Adelaide was the right result for him because he won.

‘Jerez was another occasion, he knew he was asleep and he had made a mistake and he knew that Jacques was going to beat him. And he thought, ‘I don’t care what people say, I’m still going to walk away from this one the winner and people will say that even when I get it wrong I still win, so I am unbeatable.’ Because if he had allowed a reputation to develop for being beaten when you put him under pressure, then he’s eroded. But at Jerez it didn’t work and Jacques did beat him and that probably irks him more than any other failure he’s ever had. And it’s astonishing that having had all that time to think about it and come to terms with it, he then did it again in Monaco.’*

This is pretty feisty stuff and I’m sure he said it never imagining for one moment that three years later he would be working with Schumacher on the same team, sitting in a debrief room. But Clear also had an obvious massive respect for Schumacher away from the heat of battle and knows what a competitor he is.

Nevertheless, it was perhaps wise of Ross Brawn to keep them apart with all that history.

* Excerpt from Michael Schumacher: The Edge of Greatness, by James Allen (Headline 2007)

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Can you tell me if 2010 season will be broadcast in HD. If you don’t know is there a way you can find out. I’ve searched BBC website and there’s no info. Many thanks


No. Perhaps 2011


I think that shumi will be competative and he and rubens are the only two drivers with experience of the pre-refueling style of racing. I would like to see Nico get equal treatment at the team but only the season will tell. Shov is less flappable than Clear and seems to have a more steady approach, I feel that Nico would benifit from his style at a critical point in his career.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Answer for Jock Clear:

“Who the hell stalls on the grid for heaven’s sake?”



I felt that there was a bit more tension between the garages at Brawn GP last year than is ideal. I understand that there will be competition but I kind of felt that Ruben’s side of the garage were being obstructive and witholding info from JB and Shovelin etc, if not giving the wrong information.

If they were relying on Jock/Rubens to get the basic setups then this would probably have accounted for some of the qualifying issues in the later part of the season. Althugh to be fair I think you have to wonder about a driver/engineer who can’t get a decent set up out of a car and need to use someone else’s data.

I remember JB saying ‘even using Ruben’s set up the car wont work for me’. I am sure I am wrong but, “competitive animals know no limits”.

I really didn’t like Jock Clear’s attitude last year at all, particularly as JB was in the same team.

Saying that I don’t think that MSC will even notice, but it will be interesting to see if he has any issues with set up in 2010.


No, Jock’s a real competitor, a great character.


Fair enough. I are probably feeling jaundiced as a JB and MSC fan.


“I mean who stalls on the grid for heaven’s sake?”

Only crappy drivers stall on the grid, like Taki Inoue. Oh, wait …….

Alain Prost – Quadruple World Champion. He stalled on the grid at the 1993 Hungarian GP, and stalled in the pits several times that year.

Ayrton Senna – Triple World Champion. He stalled on the grid at the start of the 1988 Japanese GP, and went on to win the race/title!

Damon Hill – ’96 Champion. He stalled on the grid at the 1993 Portuguese GP!

And lastly … a Mr “J Villenueve”, the 1997 champ, whos stalled on the grid at the 1999 San Marino GP. Do you need pictorial proof? Here ya go:

Well, Jock? o_0

I hope to see JV back on the grid, because I think he’s a good driver, but he’s only human!


Oops, the link didn’t work. This link works:

I agree that Jock is a real competitor and a character … I remember him shouting at the Ferrari guys after Schumi took Frentzen out (Canada 1998)!!

Nikolai Currell

I think Jock given the choice would have had Schuey over Villeneuve…who would’nt!!


James, how many race engineers did Schumacher have at Ferrari, and who were they?


Luca Baldisseri, Ingnazio Lunetta, Chris Dyer. I think that was it.


Off Topic (sorry)

James despite numerous hints and even sending the link to my girlfriend via email she didnt buy me your book for Christmas (I wonder if any other people suffered the same fate)

Are there copies still available and are these ones signed? (Through your website)


Disgruntled of York


dump her. She is not interested in your very basic needs. F1 i mean.


Shame on her! There are still some signed copies available through the website. If anyone else suffered the same fate then go ahead and order one. At this rate we will run out in a couple of months, it looks like. Bear in mind that this will be an annual series and this is the first edition.


My wife got me my copy for Christmas, the love. I think I need another copy though James! I dare not crease it by reading it! help! Annual series you say! best look after the copy then….


Wrap it in cellophane!


Very interesting article James, as ever.

I do hope that Rosberg isn’t overshadowed by Schumacher to the point that it is detrimental to his career as I do believe he is one of the main up and coming forces in F1 (along with Vettel), and it’d be a shame to loose that because what I still feel is a bit of a publicity stunt by Mercedes/Schumacher.


Michael already admitted Jerez was the biggest regret of his career, watching it at the time Ill always remember Martins reaction “It didn’t work Michael..”

I don’t see an issue in the team, although each driver and engineer will want to win Mercedes will not want two German drivers at each others throats like Alonso and Hamilton.

To add to a point raised, in my opinion, Michaels biggest weakness is also his biggest strength..ruthlessness


I have a feeling that this whole situation will never actually develop into anything negative. I think a natural order will develop and that there will be a general sense of harmony within the team. Schumi will be a little rusty to start with and Rosberg will be keen to impress, but I have a feeling that by the end of the season, the two will be closer together than many think and that they will actually have a good relationship. I dont think Merc will win any titles – I think Mclaren and Ferrari will be fighting over that, but I can see Merc scrapping with Red Bull for 3rd. So – a couple of wins each for Mike and Nico, but a harmonious team.


only if schumacher beats nico, otherwise he will be cold as ice with him. If he is softer than when he started in 1991, or nico is slow, may be they would get along, but then for sure would be the time for him to go for good.


There is no way of knowing what the dynamics in the team will be until we see some test times.

I hope there isn’t much between Nico & Scumi and they stay on edge all season which will keep them competitive.


An article comparing the various top teams of driver/engineer/team boss combination would be interesting. Concentrating on the top 4 (Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes).


I was wondering if there is a possibility of there being a divide in Mercedes next year?

Due to Jock Clear’s aggressive attitude (evident when Ruben’s got pole at the expense of Jenson in Brazil) and Rosberg as team mate (Rosberg’s father Keke has been particularly scathing of Schumacher in years gone by), I wouldn’t be too surprised if rifts developed within the team, e.g. someone from the Rosberg camp claiming the team are favouring Michael.

Do you think there is a chance of there being a so called ‘divide’ James?


for sure not the lovely atmosphere he was used to at ferrari during the winning years.


It’s loose loose for Rosberg, he must be gutted and praying Schumacher slips up


Also being from Liverpool – does he support Everton or Liverpool FC, or neither? I hope he supports the red half!


His family live in the North East near Middlesbrough and Andrew went to Secondry school here too i believe.Also near to Rob Smedleys parents.Must be something in the water pity we couldn’t do much with the football team !!


If Schumacher is as vindictive as Tiger Woods, Jock Clear won’t be engineering at Mercedes very long.


you mean tiger wood’s wife.

Ted the Mechanic

Can you honestly blame her?


I saw a video on youtube a few months ago of the itv post race analysis of the european grand prix and it had an interview with Clear who said something along the lines like ‘IT DIDN’T WORK THIS TIME MICHAEL’! I wasn’t surprised then at how aggressive he got when Rubens got pole in Brazil last season.


Lol I’ll always remember that radio message in Brazil.

“Button P14! Vettel P16! WHERE ARE YOU NOW!!”



You have an excellent insight into Schumacher and must have formulated your own thoughts on his weaknesses over all these years…

When young Nico picks up the phone (or his Dad!) and asks you for your opinion on Michaels biggest racing weakness what’s your answer!!!


Well James touched on it in the article with Jock talking about Schumi being unable to handle the pressure. It’s something Briatore talked about as well, and why he said Alonso was the better driver.

When you look at all the head to head title finale Schumi has been involved in Adelaide ’94, Jerez ’97, Suzuka ’98 ’00 and ’03 he only won one of them legitimately in the other 4 he cracked under the pressure.

So the task for Nico is easy, just equal Schumi all season so he gets a title shootout against him. How hard can it be to match Schumi for a a full season?..

Also something Schumi always had was a team built around him, it would be interesting to see if Nico were to match him early on with Schumi being a bit rusty. Would Schumi be comfortable with a team mate who was allowed to beat him?


Great question – have to think about that. There aren’t too many..

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Michael isn’t a fantastic starter is he James?


O-but you know you are JUST NOT telling…..

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

I hear that Jock Clear is an ultra competitive man who sees himself as a would-have-been sportsman (in the rugby world).

I really hope that this streak does not bugger up the team dynamics at Mercedes GP. Schuey is renowned for getting the team working around him and I think that Clear would be a fool to mess with Michael politically.

I would also guess that Ross Brawn would be much less inclined to put up with petty tit-for-tat behaviour.


I don’t think it will be a problem


Wait, Jacques won the title in ’97 and yet Clear gives an example of ‘tremendous’ pressure in ’98 stalling to know that in ’97?

I’m not sure which teams DID NOT put pressure on MS? Mclaren? Renault? Williams?



With testing miles being limited, how much can the simulator at Brackley help Schumi (or indeed any driver at any of the teams with sim) to get accustomed to the new car in terms of grip, aero, etc?


It is becoming important, certainly and most teams have invested heavily in simulators

Ted the Mechanic

I’ve been meaning to ask this question about the simulators for a while now.

How do the real F1 drivers compare to very good games players? I expect the team’s simulators are more sophisticated than the best games and that there would be limited access to these simulators by Joe Public and that the real drivers probably have the advantage of more “seat” time but I guess other team members may have opportunities to use them as well…

So there are probably limited comparisons available on team simulators. A more realistic comparison may be how the F1 drivers fare against good players on the latest commercial games?

You touched on this in your future blog, that maybe in future drivers will be selected based on simulation talent quests. I assume there isn’t a lot of data at this stage on whether a good game player can hop into a real car and drive the wheels off it.

Hope you don’t mind all the questions James. Your experience and connections at the F1 coal face is a unique and irresistible resource that we (the average F1 armchair fans) are privileged to have available to us.

The regular updates, insights and speed of moderating and responding to comments is very much appreciated. Thanks.


Maybe an investigation into the airline industry statistics might assist in providing a baseline.

Are the best pilots in the air & flying skills also the best pilots in the simulator?



Don’t know how to answer that one other than to say that Anthony Davidson has used a lot of F1 team simulators and when I saw him using the last Playstation F1 game at its launch he seemed pretty good at it. But that may also be because he is a big gamer anyway.


To fantastic engineers overseeing a legend and a good up and coming.

It will certainly be one of the most watched pairings of the season.

I hope Rosberg can at least match Schmacher adn make some good fights within the team.


Nice Reporting James!


why didn’t jensen insist on taking his engineer?


I think that goes with the statement Jenson made about proving himself in a completely new team. So, logically that would imply without any help from his previous team. Of course, I could be wrong but that’s just the way I see it. I must say I did find it unusual that Jenson hadn’t taken Shov with him (as a lot of drivers these days tend to take their engineers with them).

On a side note, ‘Michael Schumacher: The Edge of Greatness’ is a really insightful and well written book into the life (both on and off the track of Schumi). Well done and thankyou James, that book made my christmas 🙂


becos jenson wants to prove that it was him that won the title, not the team, hence no connection to Brawn whatsoever

and going up against lewis @ mclaren, will earn him the ultimate praise/glory should he win the title again.

if he fails tho…


James, you had an excellent pitlane interview with Jock Clear straight after the Jerez 1997 race for ITV and he echoed those exact same sentiments. I think Jock said “at the end of the day it was the driver that made the difference, and Micheal cracked exactly the same way as in 1994…”.

I wonder if with Keke Rosberg and Jock Clear together effectively whether there might be the possibility for some tension if say Michael is uncompromising on the road with Nico or something else.


Of course most people, even within Villeneuve’s team, would disagree that the driver made the difference and would accept it was great engineering on Williams’ part that made the real difference.


I think Villeneuve drove an inspired race that day. It showed some mental strength too to come back after that disastrous start and failed strategy with Frentzen passing him at turn 1.

Don’t forget too that the 2nd Ferrari in Irvine finished ahead of the 2nd Williams (in Frentzen) even if Frentzen had slowed himself before his first stop for team strategy. I feel that the Ferrari was quite close in performance to the Williams that day.


I remember it, yes. He was very pumped up that day.

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