F1 Winter Break
Schumacher gets some support from old friends
Schumacher gets some support from old friends
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Apr 2010   |  10:41 am GMT  |  156 comments

Bernie Ecclestone and Mercedes boss Norbert Haug have both stepped in to support the struggling Michael Schumacher in the last couple of days.

Schumacher’s failure to rekindle the old magic is becoming increasingly awkward, particularly after a subdued performance in Shanghai.

But both Ecclestone and Haug believe that Schumacher still has the capacity to thrill and it is only a matter of time.

“Nico is very talented and Michael was on holiday for three years,” Ecclestone says on the official F1.com site. “Ask me the same question after another two races but, at the moment I would say, don’t underestimate Michael.

“Michael would have never returned had he not been convinced that he can do the job. Give him time to adapt to the new car and the new tyres. At the moment, he’s something of a newbie who has to get accustomed to the trade again. But he’s not a tourist in the paddock – he’s here to win. And he will win again.”

Schumacher has struggled to get on the pace of his team mate Nico Rosberg this season and Shanghai was the first time in his career that he was beaten by a team mate in both qualifying and the race for a fourth consecutive race.

Generally speaking, his lack of competitiveness so far is down to him struggling to adapt his driving style to these new generation Brdgestone tyres. They are quite different to the grooved tyres he drove with, up to three years ago. If you recall last season, the first on slick tyres after many years on grooves, everybody was learning a lot about the tyres in the first half of the season. But they were doing so together.

Schumacher had to take a calculated gamble on this, knowing also that he would not be able to do the hundreds of hours of testing he enjoyed in the old days at Ferrari. Testing is now banned until February 2011.

Also the specific set of circumstances of the conditions in Shanghai exacerbated Schumacher’s problem.

He opted for the soft tyre early in the race, once he’d corrected the mistake of switching to intermediates. Most people who made that same choice at that point found that their car understeered and the left front tyre grained quite badly, which was particularly bad for drivers with a particular set up or balance which didn’t suit those conditions. It played very badly with Schumacher.

It is also worth remembering that Shanghai was never a particularly strong circuit for him when he was in his first career.

The German media has been getting on his back a bit this week. They had built things up to such an extent. Even though they have fantastic story of the flowering of Sebastian Vettel’s talent to tell, they have been rather one-eyed since Schumacher announced his comeback and so for it to be a disappointment wasn’t really in the script.

According to Haug, far from being dejected about how it’s going, Schumacher is realising what he was missing during those three years on the sidelines, “We all know that Michael would be his first and foremost critic if he realised that this job is not for him anymore,” said Mercedes boss Norbers Haug. “But that’s not the case. Within the team, Michael is extremely constructive. I think, at the moment, he’s realising how much he has missed all that. If you are a rock ’n’ roll star, you want to be on stage and not contemplating life from your sofa. His enthusiasm is firing up the whole team.”

The Mercedes is not the fastest car out there, it looks like the fourth fastest at the moment, more or less as it has been since the first race. But Rosberg has been getting results from it, including podiums in the last two races. Whether that would have happened if we’d had four dry qualifyings and four dry races is a moot point, because in racing you deal with what’s put in front of you.

Haug also makes the point that the Mercedes team, formerly Brawn, is already working with the lower staff numbers called for in the resource restriction agreement, while its opposition still has to go through that painful transition before the end of 2011. In some cases, this will mean shedding over half the workforce and that will not be done without a certain loss of competitiveness. Mercedes by buying the compact Brawn operation, got the pain over with at the outset. I talked at length with Haug last October about this and it was a fundamental to Mercedes’ strategy.

It is for this reason, that I have been saying for some time that Schumacher is probably thinking more about 2011, when McLaren will be missing Mercedes’ money and all the big teams will be going through a downsizing exercise, than he is about 2010.

He is getting back up to speed again and taking the time to recharge his database.

That said there is a rather worrying comparison with the old Schumacher. For my biography of him in 2007, Ross Brawn talked about his ability to drive around any problem or imbalance in a car,

“One of the problems with Michael is that he has such great raw talent that he can drive around an imbalance. So you have to be careful with that because you can make a change and he will compensate for it very quickly. He might be doing similar lap times but it doesn’t throw the changes into focus so you can go the wrong way (on set up). There is never the disparity with Michael between a car which is perfect and one which is not so good, as you would get with other drivers.

“This is also a weakness because it makes the difference between a good car and an average car less discernible in testing and you can easily misread how competitive a car really is.”

Even his staunchest allies would agree that, at the moment, it is hard to reconcile those words with what we are seeing from the 41 year old version of Michael Schumacher.

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Give him time and let`s see his second half season I would say. He is a pragmatic and analytical driver, needs data and development time. Ferrari mechanics pointed out not long ago, that the difference between Kimi and Schumi is the fact that Kimi gets in a car and drives as fast as humanly possible, meanwhile Schumi works hard on data analysis, set up and development as long as they don`t have a perfect package to drive as fast as no one else. On the other hand age is an important factor in all sports, you cannot ignore the fact. 41 is not 25 period. His defence against Hamilton was a great sporting moment though.


would be thrilling to see Schumacher work up to beating Rosberg before season's end.

But I fully agree that wisdom dictated against trying to match Kimi in last year's car. Perhaps also Schumacher had some unfinished business that required him to, lets say, help the Massa side of the garage .....

Louis Jefferson

I think he's doing pretty well myself. After seeing him match up against Nico I wonder how he would have matched up at Ferrari last year after Massa's crash. Surely a few tenths off like he is now vs a couple seconds off like Luca and Fisi.


... after all, Fisi was doing quite well in the Force India car and from almost winning in that car at Spa, he spent the next five races struggling almost as much as Badoer did in that Ferrari.


Let's not forget that last year's Ferrari was an ill-handling car and Michael may have looked even worse in that compared to this year's Merc.


Only time will tell!


I never thought I'd feel sorry for MSC....


We all get old but most of us don't have a £100,000,000 in the bank so what's to feel sorry about ❓


I thought it was more like 1,000,000,000 Wasn't he the first billion dollar athlete? An achievement only tiger woods has bested him on...


That old chestnut again! as if money buys happiness...


All Schumi fans, myself included, have great expectations, and when things don't go as we expect, it's natural to be critical of the situation rather than practical. To make it worse, we're looking from the outside and don't have first hand info. So, for a more practical approach, I hope that you James can attempt to get a bit more insight from Schumi himself. Personally, 2011 is when my expectation for Schumi is at it's peak, especially taking into consideration that he'll have a hand at the design of next year's car.


Interesting points James, you're probably right in that Schumi is more looking at 2011 and that 2010 is more a learning year for him.

I think that at 41 yrs, he's simply become human in that he is past his absolute best.

That said, I have the upmost respect for him in coming back to the sport. He could only lose, but I guess it shows how much he loves the sport.


He'll never be the same again! But I also think that he still has what it takes. He's simply adjusting and learning all the time.
But what we saw last weekend in China was something that even Michael didn't anticipated. Being nothing more than a backmarker in the wet.
He'll get there eventually, It's a matter of time.
You also can't ignore the fact, that the level of competitiveness is far greater than in the early part of this decade. Where he only had one fierce competitor and some years none. So I think Michael has underestimated the challenge that he faces, but that he'll come back strongly with some solid results. But as it is for everything in life, all good things come to an end. I seriously doubt that he will be a contender for race wins this year.


As soon as a result falls his way he'll be back on it.


Clearly the jury is still out and it may well be the second half of the season before we see Schumi getting to grips with the new car. With that said, he is still finishing in the top half of the grid and I can only see this improving.

We saw a glimpse of ‘old’ Schumacher fighting with Lewis last weekend and certainly fans hope to see more of this. However, I’m not sure the press will have the patience to wait until 2011.


Ah, but that was Lewis "showing too much respect" to Michael as pointed out by Martin Brundle. Michael certainly didn't have that "battle" with Vettel (for example), whose car was not even as fast as Lewis'.


Starting to feel a bit sorry for Michael, he got a hard time during his first career from the media and now he seems to be getting it again after only a few races. I wonder how long Michael will maintain his positive attitude towards the come back.

Personally I'd love to see him stuff the field in Barca to shut up the critics hell bent on seeing him limp out to another retirement after one year. I know that's not realistic though.


"Starting to feel a bit sorry for Michael, he got a hard time during his first career from the media"

The idea that Schumacher deserves any sort of sympathy could only be held by someone who is ignorant of Schumacher's past behavior on the race track. What's next,

should we all shed a tear for Goldman Sachs executives ?


Michael earns what he owns, so the comparison is not valid. Clues: Gerald Celente, Max Keiser, Peter Schiff, Ron Paul, Alex Jones ...


Well said ❗


Its not an argument and not a personal attack either, its a difference of opinion. Your original post is littered with conspiracy and opinion offered as fact. Im not debating Schumachers tactics on the circuit some of the incidents he was involved in were unquestionably cheating, im not debating that fact and thats not the issue that James was posting about.

Im merely stating my desire to see Schumacher fight with the young generation of drivers and my disappointment in the fact he is not competitive at this time.

If you want to debate the English language this is not the forum to do so. Im allowed my opinion, like you are yours. End of.


What an inane analogy that was. I'm not ignorant at all I'm sympathetic to Michaels current situation and the fact he is not up there racing against the young guys. Your hatred adds nothing to the story.


Its a perfect analogy!


"I’m sympathetic to Michaels current situation and the fact he is not up there racing against the young guys."

Schumacher cheated at times, in order to win.

Goldman Sachs engaged in similar behavior.

Thus your contention that it's an inane analogy doesn't

withstand logical scrutiny. That's all the argument you will get from me, because I don't engage in battles of wits

with people who are obviously unarmed.


Do you think he can do it James? He seems very relaxed about it all.

Its quite bold of Bernie to predict a win! He is generally right about these things.

neil murgatroyd

It's unfortunate for Schuey that things aren't going according to the media imagined script, and he's therefore taking a lot of undeserved criticism. I think it is that media focus which might make him withdraw from F1. Left to his own devices I think he would just carry on, keep his head down and work through. After all when he first went to Ferrari, it was a long time before his naxt WDC, but he grafted through to make it happen.

However, I was never a huge Schuey fan, his domination of the Ferrari team, F1 and the FIA was not a fun time for me. I think the sport is better off with MSC in mid-field, with maybe a couple of podium finished. If the Mercedes is developed in a way which harms Rosbergs chances, that would be a very BAD thing for F1.


I agree wih you Neil, I have a high respect for Shummy's achievemens but I've been following F1 since the early 80's and his years of dominance with Ferrari was the only period in which I lost interest for the sport.

I have mixed feelings about his return, on one hand seems arrogant, on the other an extraordinay brave move.


Talent like that doesn't just disappear...give him another 3 or 4 races, then judge. I think he will get up to speed, but I am going to wait and see.

The Kitchen Cynic

The obvious problem he has is that the key to his success was the ability to pound around Fiorano day and night to extract every last inch of potential from his car. This is impossible now.

But there has to be more. In 1996 in the wet he dragged to victory a car which must have made his current car look like a dream. 3 wet races so far and he's shown no likelihood of doing anything with it.

If he can't touch Rosberg, who can he beat?


Maybe it's not so much dragging that dog of a F310. He had all of Ferrari's test team at his disposal which let him find exactly what the car would do where and how. Michael's never been a driver who jumps into a car and starts pounding out quick laps like, say Kimi.

It's funny to think that the FIA might've been able to end Ferrari's dominance in the early noughties by simply enforcing a testing ban, instead of messing with the points system and rock-hard tyres.


If you compare how Schumacher is doing to others who have been in this position, he is doing really well. Look at Luca Badoer last season, he walked into the Ferrari and was 2.5 seconds a lap slower than Kimi. Schu has not been that bad. But this is a testing time for him, in a situation which is Alien to him. Whether he has the mental strength to have cope with this, only time will tell.


That comparison is not valid.

1. Badoer returned to racing after a gap of 10 years (versus Michael's 3 years)

2. Can't compare Badoer's talent and Michael'


3. That Ferrari was an evil handling car


Everyone is going to eat their words. Schumi will be back!

As for the current BBC commentating on F1, where is the zeal and excitement that we had in yesteryear? Martin & the other chap seem to be quite subdued this year. We need some shreaking and shouting again from the commentary booth! Raw racing talent deserves a real on the edge commentary!


Is that you Murray?


Read more of my thoughts at bbc.co.uk/f1


I followed your invitation, Murray. My wife was working alongside and said "Will you turn that down, Murray!". Not a question. My response: "Are you talking to me or to him?"


David Croft and Anthony Davidson on 5live is what you need.

I've listened to them all season with Jonathan muted on the TV - quali and the race come alive with decent commentary (well apart from Bahrain which no-one could've made exciting!)


I have to agree with you about the 5 live commentry , the only problem being that the radio lags about 3 seconds BEHIND the tv pictures. Last season I could select either the red button audio or just go to 301 on freeview to get the 5 live audio and synchronised picture. This year all the bbc give us on the red button is onboard cameras. There is no Radio 5 commentry option.


Ant and Dave's commentary is/was on BBC red buton (301) in car view. That then had a pic in pic on the main view from 301.


There is on Sky. I don't know about Freeview though.


We know that Mercedes will come with a major upgrade to Barcelona, as Brawn had said even before season started. Since Barcelona things might have changed totally. So let's wait and see till Silverstone (half of season).


Everyone will have a major upgrade at Barca. Merc would need to gain roughly 1.5 secs to equal other upgrades and gain enough to be fastest car.


I think that he is over. I can't see how the schumacher who was able to pull a great lap on the start of free practice on friday on a green circuit with an average setup has turned into someone unable to work around a car after 4 races.

You are not the same man at 40 you were at 20. Your reflexes are a bit weaker and you loose some sharpness no matter how physically prepared you are. You are just old.

Add to that that we've got a generation of drivers much more stronger nowadays and that they did all learn the lesson Michael taught his fellow drivers when he was at the top of his game in terms of fitness, dedication, etc... So he's had absolutely no edge be it physical, mental or in skill. The only good point Michael showed during these races is his ability to defend his position. I know he lost many positions once his intermediates was gone but before that he showed he knew how to make it difficult to overtake him.

There's only one thing bothering me is that JENSON wasn't espacially impressive facing RUBINHO last year and safe for the brake issues BARICHELLO had at the start of the season, the championship would have been much closer between them. And now, we see that JENSON is behaving well above expectations against HAMILTON. We also know that RUBINHO wasn't better than SCHUMI and he did admit that on some interviews notably pointing Schumi's consistency through races week in week out.

So how come we have Jenson, Rubinho and Lewis close to each other and the one who used to bust Robinho is unable to match a "Nico ROSBERG". Is Rosberg the best driver in the world as Norbet Haug suggested (Even him didn't believe what he said !) or do you loose so much by being out of FORMULA1 for 3 years ?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WOULD YOU PLEASE GIVE ME AN ANSWER James or even a glimpse of AN ANSwER !


"You are not the same man at 40 you were at 20. Your reflexes are a bit weaker and you loose some sharpness no matter how physically prepared you are. You are just old."

Thanks to let me know, Torrent. I'm turning that corner just tomorrow. 🙁


Happy birthday! Life begins at 40


Happy Birthday, Felipe!


Thank you very much, Ahmed. You are a wise man! 😉

It is only the second time I'm 20, isn't it?


Schumacher is clearly a very talented driver and in terms of number of WDC the greatest ever in F1. However, the last time he raced was in 2006 and a lots changed since then. What's odd is that I haven't heard many commentators talk about the fact that when he last raced Schumacher had traction control which has been banned now. The other drivers are into their third season without it. Could this be quite a big hurdle for Schumacher to overcome? I noticed he was spinning his tyres up quite a lot out of the slow corners in China and wondered if the loss of TC may have something to do with it.




No one, not even a sportsman who's been at the top of the game for many years can roll-back time, I repeat, NO ONE not Schumacher, not anyone (remember Borg (shame I was a huge fan)

All these people who are saying he'll be the Schumacher of old are living in cloud cookoo land.

Hamilton, Alonso, Button, Massa, Vettel, Rosberg to name a few all have a point to make when coming up against Schumacher during a race and none will yield as was more often the case in his golden Ferrari days.

I think people can look at the past and see a world that's pink and not as it really was, even in his prime he never overtook others in the way Hamilton does (more often than not with ease) for example, he's not now or ever was a daring driver in the Senna, Hamilton, Mansell mould more often than not taking the easy option of waiting for pit stops to overtake even at a time when he had (in my opinion) FIA assistance and the fastest car on the grid and as good as he was in the wet, Alonso, Button, Vettel and Hamilton are all just as good if not better.

Schumacher was a great driver but, in my view, not nearly as great as the records suggest which owed as much, if not more to having a car that was way better than the others and even then he needed his mates at the FIA to assist when it looked like either Kimi or Montoya was going to win.

If he & Mercedes are not careful he will even ruin his marketing potential as the world really see's him for what he is, second by some margin to his team-mate and way behind the top 3 of Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel he should never have come back.

The real test will be have his best mate at the FIA plays it, will he stay out of it and let this & next years championships be fair for all? I for one very much hope so......


Reality check: Etancelin, Faglioli, Chiron, Rosier, Bonetto, Taruffi, Farina, Landi, Villoresi L., Fangio, Trintignant, Giraud-Cabantous, Hill G., Hansgen, Kling, Menditeguy, Lang, Brabham J., Rose, Sommer, Fairman, Chaboud, Russo, Hanks, Bettenhausen, Laffite, Andretti M., Holland, Love, Johnson brought points in, (or wins or even championships) being (up to 12 years) older (than MS at China 2010).

And that's before looking at pre-1950 evidence.


Blur blur blur..

You can make all sorts of emotional comments you want but when he was winning you just can't name a driver that could do a better job in his position.Even in 96, he is the one who did the best job considering the equipment he got.

Any sane person have to agree with that.


Certainly seems to be some anti-schu sentiment from some here wanting to degrade his achievements.

The weak 'level of competition' comments are especially strange considering the longevity of his career, and the continued success with race wins even in non championship winning years

Consider the opposition that he has faced and beaten during his career including 9 world champions for starters - Senna, Mansell, Prost, Hill, Villeneuve, Hakkinen, Alonso, Raikkonen, and Button.

If this is poor competition - who else does he need to beat?


When did he beat Senna,Mansell ,or Prost over a season?


Yes, indeed, first there was hardly any competition after Senna. Then had pretty even fights with Hakkinen. After Hakkinen faded and retired, he was just against his teammate and guys like Ralf, Montoya, DC, rookie Kimi and Minardi-Alonso.

Later experienced Kimi and Alonso in competitive Renault were already considered as quick or quicker.

The level of his competition during his most dominant years is easily forgotten recently...


Freespeach, you have some valid points but you forget one thing, who was the driver that developed the Farrari (along with the team) into a winning car? You might remember how Ferrari was struggling befor Shu arrived. Personally, I think he will improve. Can you imagine going around a high speed corner at 4.5 gees? I don't know if you've ever raced a car, but if so you probably didn't exceed 3 gees and felt quick. It takes time to build up, develope a trust and a feeling for the car at those speeds and with no testing this takes time.



"...way behind the top 3 of Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel..."

The championship standings disagree with you

1 Jenson Button

2 Nico Rosberg

3 Fernando Alonso


You're too harsh, he won many races and a couple of championship without the best car (Benetton). He was clearly much better than the drivers around him.

Now, the difference is that he is no much for the driver he was when young and the current generation is much better than the one Schumi raced against and that's it.


launch control, modified fuel rig, contractual #1 status, dodgy sportsmanship

He's a great driver/competitor but his playing field was skewed


Too right, had the FIA under Mosley been fair 9God I'm glad he's gone) history would show a different F1.

Looking at the record books anyone new to F1 will assume Schumacher was a better driver than Senna or Jim Clark, which is complete and utter rubbish.

To me Schumacher's biggest failing (apart from being a cheat as we all saw at Monaco) was never allowing a team-mate to race him, this is also Ferrari's biggest failing at least McLaren let their drivers race which is great for us armchair fans.


In my view if the FIA had been fair then Schumacher most certainly would not be a 7 x world champion, his first for example he should have been thrown out, everyone in F1 knows it (James included) and there are many other examples that could be given (even when banned he kept his wins)

You're right about the drivers not being as good in his time though both Kimi and Montoya were as good but often let down by their cars whereas Schumacher simply had a car that was faster and more reliable than the others, he also had a team-mate who was never allowed to race him - will never forget Rubins all but stopping on track to let him pass and when on the podium Schumacher jumped for joy as though he'd won on merit only to be booed by the crowd and rightly so, he didn't look so happy then!

Sadly, for me, what he did in qualifying at Monaco was just the worst, not only was he guilty of blatant cheating he also spoilt what was a great qualifying up to that point, even to this day he's not man enough to say sorry, many would respect him more if he was man enough to do this.

No I don't think any of us should feel sorry for him, all champions fade, it's called age!


And there were at least 2 championships where he lost by a few points due to mechanical issues in the final race.

And the Austrian finish that you're referring to when Barrichello all but stopped on the last lap was Barrichello's fault - every team has played the team orders game at some point to benefit the WDC campaign - only Ruben saw fit to wait til the last corner of the last lap before petulantly slowing almost to a halt, the showboating fool. He created that sad episode, and I've never liked him since it. Particularly given that just a couple of days earlier Ferrari has extended his contract.



I'm not sure he ever had FIA assistance, he was blacked flagged before and banned from a number of races.


I like the thought that Schumi is just enjoying driving an F1 car and playing a role in a top team. Maybe he's becoming mature enough to find the fun of driving is sufficient reward. If you had the capability of driving an F1 car moderately competently, and someone offered you a drive for 3 years you'd jump at it, wouldn't you? Let's give him a break, even if he isn't the same top dog, I bet he'll be much more competent by season's end.


Agree 100%. Well put.


Is it true they are changing his chassis . . . implying something is wrong with it:



he asked the team for a new chassis. They think the one he used in the past few races might have some sort of problem. It will be interesting to see him at barcelona practice sessions.

I bet he is on the pace again.

Zobra Wambleska

I'd like to see him change cars with Roseberg. I bet the results would be the same....Roseberg faster.


I truly respect him for coming back and encourage him to stick at it, but right now I think his all-time reputation is being risked to an extent.

You can only beat the best of your era, but there will be some who say that beating Damon Hill, Hakkinen, Coulthard, Montoya, and Barrichello for a world title isn't the same as beating Hamilton, Button, Alonso, Massa, and Vettel.


You could also agrue that Hamilton, Button, Alonso, Massa and Vettel raised their game to beat an untouchable Schumacher.

I think Button more or less matched Schumacher in 2004.

Alonso knocked the great man off his pedestal, in 2005 and 2006.


Well he have beaten, both Jenson, Felipe and Fernando before.

There is no reason why he cant do that again.

He won his last title at 34 and he last competed at 36, and every year in between he has been testing, but honly with the old aero package, he did not drive with the cars from 09 onwards until this January.

Give him time, the old SCHUMI will soon be back.


I agree with you. Add the fact that Hill at his prime was before Hakkinen at his prime, who was before Montoya at his prime. He had at most one major competitor every season. Today's Formula One has a collection of the best performing at or near to their maximum.


well he beat Massa in the same car very easily.


I don't think age has anything to do with it.

Look at UFC fighters, arguably the most demanding sport on the planet and many of the competitors are mid to late 30s. Hell they even had Randy Couture as Heavy Weight champion at 47 year old.


F1 is all about snap reflexes and quick decisions, both which are easier at a younger age, whereas UFC is more about stamina and strength which you build up with age, hence 26 - 30 being considered prime condition for fighters, you mention Rand Couture who yes is a fantastic fighter but has made his excellent career on stamina and experience, the reason he was so could was he could take an absolute beating than grab a choke and hold onto it for as long as it takes, to compare the two as atheletes they are on opposite ends of the scale


I heard Randy had signed for USF1 before they went **** up.

Shame we'll never get to see if your comparison between F1 and UFC is correct.


I always thought it would be a tall order for him to come back & fight for another World Title. I think people seriously underestimated the challenge he faced in coming back & getting up to speed after 3 years out. And not to mention the level of competition is in my opinion higher than any other year when he won a World Title. I actually think apart from China his performances have been respectable for a driver making such a comeback. Just wait till the end of the season there will be a handful of Schumacher highlights to look back on, they won't include a World Title, but maybe a win. I'm not a Schumacher fan, but give him till the end of the season before judging the wisdom of his comeback, in the meantime let him get on with it.


I was one of the few who said Rosberg would out-perform Schumacher in qualifications and races when James broke the news on his return to F1, much to the derision of many on this site. Why would this change in 2011?

Schumacher's dominance of F1 may never be repeated again, such is the abundance of talent out there at the moment. He may grab a win here, and a win there, but he has no hope whatsoever of being World Champion again. Surely this was his main reason for making a comeback in 2010!?

The raw/young talent of Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel mixed with the maturity of Button and Alonso, leaves no room whatsoever for Schumacher in F1, other than fighting for a mid table position.

Not really buying into this "one eye on 2011" theory whatsoever. Mercedes definitely thought they would be one up on McLaren this season and that hasn't happened at all. I can't see McLaren relinquishing their supremacy over there "sister" team, without a long, hard scrap in 2011.

Mercedes may have both eyes on McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull, but at this rate, they should be keeping one eye on Renault!


Looking good so far, lets see how it's going in July


Perhaps he is not that great as many thought he was....


not good so far - atleast for now.


I don't care if Luca Badoer could bet him, I'm just happy to able to see the best F1 driver again.



Has Mclaren complied with the reduced resource agreement?

With the news of the business split at Mclaren, is it possible to have resources in the road car division working on technical issues that also impact the racing division, thus providing a work around for the agreement?



hey, i have an idea. let's try and make a story about Schumacher into a mclaren trash-fest.

hmm, i wonder if ferrari, mercedes and renault are not complying with the reduced resource agreement.


All of that is well covered by the RRA. It's the same for Mercedes and Ferrari and Lotus.


Every1 seems to have an excuse for Michael it seems. I don't buy all the "has to get used to the tyres" BS at all. We are 4 races in now, he has had plenty of time to get back into the groove.

DARE I say that he's just lost that extra spark he had maintained for all those years which made him so special?


Too be honest he's only ran One dry race, Bahrain.


Sure only one dry race, but he WAS the rainmaster, always far and away the best driver in wet conditions.

I really don't feel he has any excuses other than the obvious (he's not as good as he was).


I totally agree .... there is no excuse, the man is just not fast enough. Nico have the same car; I doubt he had special treatment from Mercedes.

In his hey days he was so dominant is because he had a superior car. In modern F1, a good car is everything. Put MS in a Mclaren, Ferrari, or Red Bull, see what a difference it make.

enough said.


It IS sad. I have the greatest respect for Michael and rejoiced when he announced his comeback. I do think that people may now associate his career with this rather embarrassing 2nd inning rather than his fabulous Ferrari era.


I don't its that simple. Within the span of four races he drove a total of 215 laps in all practice sessions (5 less than Rosberg). Random conditions.

Only James would know how much testing was allowed prior, as I couldn't hunt down any links. But my bet would be he would have easily been able to do 5,000 laps in between these four races without the testing ban.

Make that 1,000 laps set-up testing, 1,000 laps aero testing, 1,000 laps tire testing, 1,000 laps wet weather testing, 1,000 laps qualifying testing.

Then I'd say he would have had 'plenty of time to get back into the groove'.

Zobra Wambleska

So are we to take it that you think he's a slow learner?


As has been said here a great deal, it's surely the track hours which is affecting his performance so greatly.

James - do you have, by means of a comparison, any details of how many hours pre-season and between races Schumacher would put in during his first era as a driver?


Preseason testing was usually around 10,000km per driver. Tests between races, not so common in flyways, but after European races 2-3 day tests starting Tuesday after a race. Bridgestone gave Ferrari a test budget of $25m a season, which buys a lot of miles!


James - many thanks - and sorry not to reply before. I think that's a huge difference. Schu may have been capable of the breathtaking - but that's a lot easier to produce when you have 10,000km in the bank. He will only have had a fraction of it, and after 3 years and the shifts in the cars it puts his struggles so far into some context.


Well the testing would start in January and would go on until the week before the first race, with no restrictions. 10,000 kms per driver was not uncommon in those days as I recall.

Between races, there wasn't so much between flyaways at the start of the season, but there was usually a 2-3 day test somewhere in Europe starting the Tuesday after a Grand Prix. Ferrari had a testing budget from Bridgestone of around $25 million a season so that bought a lot of miles.


What teams are currently the largest in terms of stuff and is it possible to estimate how many people they will have to let go?


Obviously, I meant staff. Sorry for the spelling mistake.


I liked the post better as 'stuff' though...


I was never a fan of Michael's,but I do think that he will improve in the next few races.
Spain should be a good test of what he can do(providing it's dry)as I believe he will be on par with Rosberg.


Feeling sorry for the most successful F1 driver of all time is like donating money to Warren Buffett. Insane. His return was/is a gamble and its fascinating but geez...he had his time...and it was like no other.

Ill admit I began to dislike Schumi because he was so good! 🙂 The days with Ferrari/Brawn when you could count on him winning over and over were for me some of the most boring and predictable F1 races ever. Personally I was glad to see his era come to an end and ill be glad to see the door close behind him...again.


i agree. But don't count him out just yet. I am sure this dog can still bite. We can be sure that total domination it's out of the question, though.


It's weird, I've also started to feel sorry for him. After all of the years of pain that he put me through!

Saying that, I always said that he was the best of a bad bunch. Whenever he has been referred to as the greatest I've always said "Yes, on paper". All of the greats had fierce competition that Michael rarely ever had to put up with. Once Kimi and Fernando came of age that was it, game over. And I predict it will continue to be game over with the current field (and a team-mate with equal number one status...)

Jorge Moreira da Costa

Well, Niki Lauda finished 4th in the first GP and won in his third after 2 1/2 years out flying jets, but that is just a detail...


maybe rosberg its very very good


no way. He is nothing special, the thing is schumacher is underperforming.


I'm glad he's back - I would love to see some of his old magic at some point - the longer he stays, the better the chance of it happening...

Let's hope the chassis replacement gets the show back on the road...

Hamilton needs a true competitor of Michael's calibre... the rest are just okay and above okay...


I'm not a Michael fan, but when he was having his battle with Lewis i hoped that might be the spark to bring out the real Michael. But he went backwards in the race.

I'm not going to patronise the guy by saying i feel sorry for him, but it's sad to see him putting in drives like Sunday. They were the sort of conditions he used to thrive in.


I am really waiting for Canadian GP to assess Michael. He was the king of that circuit: 7 times winner.


What about simply his attitude?

I think after Chinese qualifying, we saw Schumi enter the weighing place. He just did a poor qualifying, was properly beaten by his teammate while new boy Vettel dominated.

And what does he do? He smiles and makes something funny to the camera!

He is supposed to look like the old angry and arrogant and disappointed Schumi - who is just about to go back to the team and set things right and dominate the race day.

Is he going to win anything with this soft attitude?


did he ignore Vettel and walk straight past without congratulating him? I may be wrong but it looked like that ..


he is upset behind cameras. Don't be fooled by that smile. He is an angry animal, and when he smells the chance of a podium again, he is going to be the same.


I have no doubt that Michael will win again. But why are people so surprised at his performance so far? He was the very best driver in perhaps the weakest decade in F1, and now he's in a field with some great drivers, who entered just as he retired. He's simply not going to dominate this field like he could in his era, even when he does acclimatize to the new rules.

Where Michael excels, and is the greatest ever, is in working with the engineers and team to develop both the car and the team process. If what it took to get Mercedes the greatest test driver ever is to give him a race seat, it is well worth it. Rosberg's results are showing that; I believe Rosberg is be a better race driver than Michael, but he and Mercedes could not achieve those results without Michael on the team. His engineering feedback and inspiration will drive Mercedes and his team-mate on to truly great things.

As for Michael, he will get plenty of wins. I think he'll be to Rosberg as Coulthard was to Hakkinen, but given the current field there is no shame in that. And if he sticks with it -- and I sincerely hope he does -- Mercedes is on the road to becoming the dominant team in F1 thanks to him. I hope Rosberg appreciates that; I am sure Haug does already.


Well said!!

Val from Montreal

total rubbish -))


Looking at history, Schumacher drove his very best races always after he'd had a spell of bad races and a hammering by the press and fans alike.

And we all know what history does best. It tends to repeat itself.


There must be a nadir. Perhaps this is it.


Rosberg certainly has the measure of Schumi at the moment, but for a 41 year old guy he is certainly on the pace, and I don't see why he can't get even faster as the season goes on. The difference in lap times is so small as well that once he finds his comfort zone I only see that gap closing.

I dont think he will dominate Rosberg though.

Val from Montreal

The moment Schumacher Pulls out a stunner performance all of his detractors will all go back into hidding...

My question that i have to people like Freespeech : if

Schumacher had so much lousy competition for the most part of his carreer than why were fans still watching F1 all those years in record numbers ?

It must be one hell of a coincidence that as soon as Schumacher left at the end of 2006 there came this storm of 'talented' drivers into F1 .. Wow simply amazing is'nt ?

It's as if during the whole 1990's and the first half of the new Millenium racing drivers all over the world were some how average and that only in 2007 with the arrival of Hamilton F1 saw it's first REAL competetive era ...That is the biggest lie and excuse Schumacher's critics got left..

The truth is MS made everybody look average.

I really hope he starts dominating again so then everybody will shut their traps.


You are right to a certain extent. Schumi is a top 5 driver. His competition was not as stiff as for instance prost's, who had to fight senna, piquet, mansell, lauda, etc, but even though, he is as good as it gets. Him having 7 titles, is due to the fact that he was driving for the best team, with number one status, and had to fight lesser men that the ones mentioned above. Beating rosberg? It would have been easy in the past, let's see what happens in the next few races. He is not that far off.


You say: "It must be one hell of a coincidence that as soon as Schumacher left at the end of 2006 there came this storm of ‘talented’ drivers into F1 .. Wow simply amazing is’nt ?"

That works both ways. It took Senna's death to get Schumacher his first pole.

Alonso arrived before Schumacher retired, and started beating him very quickly once he had a fast car. Are you sure you don't have cause and effect reversed?

I have always held the same opinion of Schumacher: once Senna, Prost, and Mansell were out of the sport, he was then the best driver for many years. He made everyone look average because he was very good and they were average. He is certainly the best development driver of all time, and I credit him with a large part in the success of the teams for which he drove.

I respect him for his achievements, and his place in history is well deserved, but I don't put his driving skill on the same level as Senna, Prost, Gilles, or Clark; or, for that matter, as Alonso, Hamilton, and Rosberg.

If Hakkinen was consistent he would have dominated Schumacher, but his brilliance was limited to only certain races in each season. Who can forget his drives at Silverstone and Indianapolis before his retirement? I certainly remember those more than any individual Schumacher win.


You don't put Michael Schumacher's driving abilities, on a general career long level, on even the same level as Nico Rosberg's?

Are you insane?!

Val from Montreal

The only 2 things I got left to say is :

Schumacher was already beating Senna before he died - so that makes him greatest of all time right there

Schumacher's blown engine at Suzuka in 2006 is what made Alonso's reputation.

FA is way over rated always was and always will be ...

Alonso got beat pretty badly by a rookie, this same rookie is losing out to Button at the moment - and Button was 1 of the many drivers that Schumacher pummelled into the ground up to his retirement .... )))

= Schumacher greatest in the last generation and will win again in this new generation.

Just watch


Nothing surprises me in F1, well except for Buemi's wheels flying off maybe.

I think the post above by Torrent

(April 22nd, 2010 @ 1:01 pm ) raises an interesting point.

Mercedes PR could perhaps be engineering a monomyth hero's journey. Schumacher battling adversity in far away lands, loose wheel nuts, cracked chassis, media reaction negative, but once back in Europe, turn things around, be dominant and score far more positive press in the process.

Much more effective than turning up in Bahrain on pole. It works for Hollywood blockbusters everytime, cue Eye Of The Tiger ?

MS coming good will hit F1 jackpot in terms of viewing figures, etc.

Monaco would be about the right time !


"A learning year".....that has to be some kind of joke right? We are talking about the 2nd most experienced driver in F1 history for GP's driven. More World Championships than anyone, almost twice as many wins than the second most successful, etc etc.

If his form stays the same for the rest of the year I have no doubt at all that he'll be making a very quiet exit at seasons' end.

Question is, would Nick Heidfeld be quicker?

I'd hazard a guess and say "YES"!


After a few competitive laps against Hamilton, Schumi's car became a sitting duck. That probably indicates that he is having trouble handling the new rules. Gone are the days of splash and dash where tires could be managed along with the re-fueling strategy. Schumi will have to unlearn his first life and learn anew in his second life. It is here I would have to say with a heavy heart that age is not on his side. For him its almost like going to another racing series- I say that looking at the new comers like Petrov who are doing well.


Sorry to be nip picky. His first life was on full fuel and I'm pretty sure he won races.


Michael Schumacher's Agenda:

1 Win races,extend legend(you cannot find the full extent of MGP performance without trying to win every race)

2 Help old friend(Ross Brawn and company want a second opinion they can trust)

3 Restore most revered German marque to former status(so that the future is bright for all of us in Grand Prix land)

4 Make lots of money(he is risking his life)


why people keep saying that the drivers in f1 risk their lives? That's no longer a factor.


Jovy Marcelo,Dale Earnhardt,Mark Donahue-Murphy took these guys.Murphy loves F1.



Thanks for this post. I posted some questions on an earlier post (http://jaonf1.wpengine.com/2010/04/vettel-stuns-webber-in-shanghai-qualifying/) about Schumi's lack of performance. This post goes some way towards explaining his performance compared to Rosberg.

Whether it is 2011 or later in 2010, I truly believe that a talent of his caliber cannot just forget how to drive. Maybe that statement will come to haunt me later but this old dog will bite again.

Schumi's saga, along with Button beating Hamilton at McLaren so far, this season has all the makings of a classic. The Barcelona GP seems too far away. I wish I could shrink time so we could get to the dang racing......

Thanks for the insightful posts on this riveting season.


I disagree with you..I don't think someone who had done monaco 2004 and jerez 1997 can ever be mattured enough to drive for fun.I bet it's killing him to be beaten 4 times in a row by his team mate.

Remember,at the first test Michael said that being left 0.4s behind Rosberg is just too much for his standard.is this the kind of saying from a person who's driving for fun? I don't think so.

I honestly believe that he will put his helmet down by the end of this season and just live a normal life outside F1 cockpit.


Is there not a concern for Rosberg that the characteristics of the car will be moved more towards Schumacher's style? Berger and Alesi found Schumi's Bennetton almost undriveable when they moved there. Apparantly Rosberg hates oversteer and MS loves it (maybe James could expand on this rather simplistic analysis, appantly JYS commented on it pre-season)


I am not convinced that age is Schumacher's main problem this year.

Look at Dara Torres the Olympic swimmer who at the age of 41 won 3 silver medals at the Beijing Olympics. These were in the 50m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle relay and the 4x100m medley relay, all of which require tremendous speed and strength. Her first Olympic competition was in 1984, she skipped 1996 and 2004. At her first comeback in 2000 at the age of 33, many considered her way too old for a competitive swimmer - until she won some gold medals.

Training methods as well as expectations have changed quite a lot in the last few years. A person can maintain a high level of fitness for much longer than thought possible before, as long as one keeps training.

It will be interesting to see if changes to the car will improve Schumacher's performance relative to Rosberg. Having stayed out of competition for 3 years may well be the problem, but hey, Niki Lauda managed a pretty good comeback.


Dieter Rencken's latest column in Autosport.com has a very interesting analysis of Schumacher's performance. It may be that several problems or difficulties all at once have contributed to his faltering performance. Reminds me of some plane crashes.


Not having read the column, I wouldn't be surprised if Schumacher and Shovlin have attempted to dial-out understeer (Button's preference) and just made the traction worse, fundamentally making the car slower.


I find it interesting that some people want to defend Schumacher’s lack of performance.

First up he is being paid a shed load of money and so far hasn't given his employers value for money.

There are other new F1 drivers this year that haven't got the experience of the current F1 cars and tyres and are just getting on with the job. Adapting to new technical regulations is part of an F1 driver's job description. MS has over 15 years of F1 experience to draw on. By all accounts this years cars are less demanding to drive because they are carrying full fuel loads and not every lap is like a qualifier as in the past. This is crucial because at 41 it would have made Schumacher’s job a lot harder. Overall I don't think there is any valid reason why MS isn't doing better.

F1 has moved on from the Schumacher era. No one driver is bigger than the sport of F1.

There's a lot of new exciting talent in F1 and it's great to see new drivers getting a chance to show their talent. I'd be just as happy to see Hulkenberg or Petrov in the Merc.

If MS lifts another drivers crown then it will reflect poorly on F1. Think about it. A 41 year old former champ goes on holidays for 3 years and comes back and flogs everyone. Not a good look.


could it be that shumi's problem is that he might be missing the traction control?


The guy is doing great, considering.

Not a Schumi fan, but hats off to him. Getting back in the saddle after so long away was brave, IMO.


Hi James

Any insights into Mercedes longer Wheel base Chassis for Barcelona and how it relates to Michael Schumacher.

Just want to thank you for your feedback, it makes F1 fans like myself feel closer to the sport!



Michael has more potential then Button despite Button's exceptionally flukey start...

Lets hope there is more to come...


Hello James,

I ve been watching michael since he first started and i believe(not many do so) that he is a man depended a lot on psuchology. He is a steady driver and an analytical mind but i ve come to believe that he is influenced by things around him more than people think...

Therefore i am asking you, in terms of psychology, how is he now?


I haven't read all the replies so sorry if I am repeating someone else's thoughts, but I wonder if, in considering coming back from retirement, Michael ever considered the possibility he would not only be slower than a lot of his competitors, but slower even to his teammate who has never won a single race?

Apparently he seems a lot more calm and relaxed than in previous years, so maybe he is truly out there to simply enjoy himself first and foremost, but to still try hard to win.

If that is the case, which would be the sign of maturity, then I am even more of a Schumacher convert. Profesional sport desperately needs a lot more laid back, joyful athletes. They are fun to root for.


Michael has done his business in F1, he has 7 title which most current drivers will never reach, he broke a record help for 50 years from Fangio. People should remember that when he wanted to take Ferrari to the top followed by 5 straight titles, you would remember that this is the man that made all sacrifices and it took years before they enjoyed being the top players in F1.

From what I know, Michael like Alonso likes to be informed about every bit in the development of the car, this years Mercedes GP was built with the input of Brawn drivers, Michael took the decision late in December for a drive. This car may not suit his driving style, from what I have seen, Michael looks more relaxed and fitter than ever. In the past we forget that drivers won their championships in their 40s.

People just like to apply unnecessary pressure where as we should be celebrating these heroes for what they can achieve, driving an F1 car is not an easy thing to do.

Personally i try hard never to be a critic and I could never ever do any of those stuff that F1 drivers do, controlling an F1 car requires a special talent and skills.


James, in watching MS over the years, from him getting his first win, WDC's with Benetton and progressing to Ferrari...what can you say about the role of traction control and other driver aids?

I remember him making consistent quotes saying that he always favoured these things and that he loved the idea of getting the maximum out of cars using the technology.

I am asking since nowadays most of the technology is policed and if I am not correct taken away from the drivers.


(maybe I am cheekily suggesting that he is the ultimate "TC King"...but I leave to you to provide some excellent analysis on this)


Can you really see MS going wheel to wheel with the likes of Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso?

No, I can't either.


I believe Schumi will still spring a surprise this season; even if that decision is to quit at the end of 2010....

No-one can take away his past achievements, however I for one honestly believe he will improve and cause an upset or three!

The problem is as we all are noting, the press and fans around the world alike (whether MS fans or not..) are not giving the guy a chance and pitting him against his vintage self; his own past success being the target all expect him to come close to, if not match or exceed...

Whether you're a fan or not, give the guy a chance to take on-board the huge technical changes, then we might see him upset the order.

I would love to see it, even though I cursed many a weekend when he 'boringly' won so often, but one cannot argue with his talent.

Did he not win the Race of Champions many times since quitting F1, or is my nearly 41 yr old brain fogging over those particular facts....?!

The guy is a racer through and through, but lack of testing is harming him for sure.

James, what is your opinion regarding the testing ban? I ask in respect of the current new teams; don't you think its inherently dangerous that cars can join the track without sufficient testing?

How about the established teams, they bolt a new part and really don't know for sure if it will be ok on track or fail as Buemi's upright did in China?!

I see a total lack of in-season testing as being dangerous and hardly reflective of being the so-called pinnacle of motorsport!


I have to admit that I was never Schumacher's greatest fan but I did get excited at the prospect of his return... strong statement from a McLaren fan.

All I would say in his defence is he had never driven this generation of F1 cars before the winter.

Look at Grosjean and Alguersuari's performances from late last season. Now, I concede that neither had the weight of expectation that comes with being a seven-times world champion and that Grosjean never got another shot at it this year. But now consider Jaime Alguersuari's improvement this year. He has been nothing short of impressive in a Minardi (let's face it, Red Bull isn't putting anywhere near as much money into the Toros as the main team anymore - it's a Minardi)

All I'm saying is give Schumacher time - at least half a season, maybe a full one - and if I'm wrong and he doesn't hit the heights that people expect I hope they remember HE'S FORTY-ONE!


I'm interested to see what James thinks about Michael's driving style versus where the car is right now. Its seems from my observations that one of his main problems is putting the power down/traction issues. Martin Brundle pointed this out in China and that it could be the engine's torque characteristics or the cars mechanical grip. I remember the 1995 BBC documentary discussing his particular driving style. It was based around massive steering input due to getting the power down so early on the exit of corners. I know this seems a bit symplistic but it could be a reason for his current struggles.


Man, I have been looking for Michaels BBC Documentary forever! Would you happen to know where I can find it? It would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


Why don't people give credit where its really due - Rosberg is F*cking GOOD! He dragged that Williams into places it never ever deserved to be (4th place, Rosberg was a common sight when the williams was far from the 2nd or 3rd best car).

Let's please get with it.


I have to confess I don't feel at all sorry for Schmacher he's getting what he deserves. Compete on a level playing field and lets see how good you really are.

Button, Alonso & Rosberg are in new cars and are making a nonesense of the " give him time to get use to the car..." argument.

Ross Brawn (a man of dubious character) always provided him with "advantages" i.e "alledged" traction control mapping on the Benetton, unquestioned no.1 status I believe underestimated Rosberg. Who as geninly outpaced Micheal in quali and race trim, killing the excuse that would have been the car is a dog had Micheal been able to out perform him but still not got results.

Micheal had a charmed career 1st time round, the way he won his first championship etc. Now he really is racing its interesting watching him cope.

Hamilton in the Merc for 2011 is my gut feeling......lol


I just dont think schumi has the confidence in the car to push it to the limit , particularly in free practice. The where telling shots on tV of Rosbery adjustting the brake balance in the car which looked super slick compared with schumi's attempts which seemed more cumbersome. Once he feels able to push to the limit ... and then beyong it , we will see a very competitive driver again ..... 3 years is a very long time and most people take a few months to settle back into a new job after a sabbatical.


I think those comments from Ross Brawn still ring true. The car is not set-up at all how Schumacher lieks it. They have simply mis-judged the rule changes so the way Schumacher likes the car set-up is beyond what the car can currently be set-up to do. However it is more than likely much closer to what Nico likes so the fact that, until China, Schumacher was only 1-2 tenths off, he is adapting extremely well. Lets see what happens when can eventually set the car up to his liking, hopefully come Barcelona.


I love Schumacher but everyone seems to dismiss the team that he had around him at ferrari when he won. It was also HIS show. He set the tone, its the only reason he could have veterans as teammates as they knew the score and kept their mouths shut. Could you imagine the current crop of young drivers letting that happen? never. Luca de Montezemolo would never let that happen though as he would never get a young driver. Brawn, Luca, Jean Todt, Michael- that is a lot of intellectual and political horse power on top of the fact that the ferrari engineers had produced the best car seen for ages- why is this never part of the eqution when discussing Schuey's current woes?


Drivers have different strengths. It's the worst-kept secret in F1 that Schumacher prefers cars with "oversteery" characteristics.

At the moment, the Mercedes has the opposite problem - a lack of grip at the front end. So it's no great surprise that we aren't seeing the Schumacher of old.

The test is Barcelona. If Mercedes correct their problems with the massive update, will we see Schumacher cruise away from Rosberg?

If not, this excuse won't wash any more.

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