Schumacher, like Mercedes, finds himself at a crossroads
Mercedes
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 May 2012   |  11:56 am GMT  |  209 comments

Michael Schumacher is a five times Monaco GP winner, but he arrives in the Principality this weekend with a cloud over his head after his third retirement in five races this season.

It leaves him with just two points, his worst ever start to an F1 season. In each of those three retirements he has lasted no more than 12 laps.

Schumacher’s frustration is evident; he has fired several salvoes against Pirelli and called Bruno Senna an “idiot” for the collision in Spain which eliminated both cars. The stewards in Barcelona agreed with many commentators in calling it 100% Schumacher’s fault and handing him a five place grid penalty for this weekend’s Monaco GP. With overtaking so hard in Monaco (there were only 11 overtakes last season, the lowest of any race) it will be another frustrating weekend for the German.

And it seems that the question of what happens next is beginning to arise. It brings Schumacher to a crossroads in his second career: to continue or to call it a day at the end of the season?

Lewis Hamilton is potentially available for next season and this week Mercedes CEO Nick Fry made some comments about Paul di Resta, which caught the attention, “Paul’s on our radar,” he said. “He has done a fantastic job, he’s a nice guy, he’s a great team player and he would be one of the drivers undoubtedly that, if Michael were to decide he didn’t want to continue, we would look at. We haven’t reached that time in our thinking yet, but we have all got a lot of admiration for Paul.”

Ross Brawn missed the Spanish Grand Prix with illness, but will be back in Monaco to oversee the team. He has stepped in and counterbalanced the talk of life beyond Schumacher. He told Bild in Germany that the team has let Schumacher down, rather than the other way around.

“A lot has been said and written, but we should not forget that we – the team – have let him down in three of the fives races, not delivering the job we should have,” he said. “We must do better. We saw Michael’s real quality again in the first race, so it’s for that reason that I believe we will see him on the podium this year.

“When the time comes, we will sit down together and talk about the future. I’m sure it will become clear very quickly in what direction we will go.”

Speaking in the Monaco paddock on Wednesday Schumacher said, “So far we’re not focusing on what happens next year or in the future. It’s more about what happens right now and the team and myself will get together, so there’s no news for you yet, unfortunately.”

Mercedes is itself at a crossroads in its F1 involvement, having been snubbed by the commercial rights holders when favourable deals for the next eight seasons were being offered around to lock in the top teams. The message appears to be that F1 does not consider Mercedes a ‘must have’, despite the fact that the sport is heading for an IPO this summer. Mercedes supplies engines to 25% of the grid.

This is the main issue to resolve, before the issue of Schumacher’s future can be dealt with.

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1

Schumacher has still got it but has just had horrible luck so far in 2012. Luck will change sooner or later though and looking forward to seeing Schumi on the podium soon! He is one of the reasons why I watch F1.. hope he continues to drive for many seasons to come!!!

2

Yeah, “Washed up old fart, fastest qualifier in toughest driver test in F1” Where’s the headlines now??? What a bunch of utter rubbish you folks spewed above. Too funny, thank you Mr Schumacher.

3

absolutly nothing Eddie and David can say now… MSC on pole… kind of.

He raised the “vettel pole position” finger, but he should have raised his middle finger to Jordan and co.

Knowing he will take a penalty and won’t win no matter what he does tomorrow, he still messed up everyone else today. Go Schumi.

4
eric weinraub

I wonder how many of the so called journalists were brits? Senna is a rolling chicane with money. DO you really think Schuey, going so much faster, was thinking, heck, i’ve notthing better to do so i will just slam my car into the back of him so I can home to the wifey and kids! Get real. the vid was clear that Senna was blocking….

5

I have a hunch that Hamilton has already signed for Mercedes for next season.

6

Good call, his change of attitude has been rather dramatic and his blameless demeanour suggests he may have already moved on.

7

I think Schumacher’s problem boils down to lack of luck since he returned to F1. During his glory years he was the luckiest guy in F1 – no matter what kind of situation he was in he – lucked out. Now karma has swung the other way… everything that can go wrong for him in F1 is going wrong. As the saying goes…. what goes around…. comes around!

It’s sad to see it happening… but it shows that Schumacher is a mere mortal after all!

8

if Fry continues making silly comments like the above, he won’t be with Mercedes for much longer

the decision when Schumi retires will be made by Haug (advised by Brawn) on the motorsport side

and Zetsche, the Mercedes CEO , on the corporate side, as well as Schumi himself

what Fry thinks is irrelevant

[mod]

9

Schumacher used to test a lot but Barrichello is the man when it comes to testing and developing a car. Otherwise how would you explain nineteen years of Formula 1 in teams such as Ferrari? Do you all think that Ferrari needed him for his racing skills? Don’t you think that Schumacher’s race skills were not enough? It was Barrichello’s development skills that were needed….

Schumacher’s season in 1997 was outstanding but it was more because of his driving skills.. When did he really dominate because his car was absolutely the best? 2001, 2002 and 2004, particularly 2002 and 2004. In 2000 he was battling Mika Hakkinen and in 2003 he won the championship by a point..(was it because of some rule changes? I don’t quite remember…)

The point is he had dominant cars in those Barrichello years.. What do you guys think?

I would get rid of Schumacher, get Barrichello to develop the car for this year and let Rosberg win in 2013

10

Three-time World Champion Jackie Stewart believes the transformation of the Ferrari team was Schumacher’s greatest feat.

In term of completeness Michael Schumacher is better than Rubens

11

Schumacher helped develop the cars to his liking. If you’re looking for another man in all this look to Luca Badoer. Not the brightest racing star in the sky, but he knew what Schumi wanted and helped the whole process of making Schumacher the strong star he was at Ferrari.

I’m sure Barrichello helped more than Irvine did, and was a better race driver than him, but in the end he was a clear number 2 without the team orders.

12

I’d put Barricello’s into Massa’s Ferrari tomorrow morning!

13

[mod] Rubens come into Ferrari where the car and the team already well established from Schumacher developing skill, Even Jackie Stewart and many others believe it was Michael Schumaceher who help to turn Ferrari into such a domination team, have you ever read F1 racing tribute to Michael Schumacher or James Allen book, [mod]

14

Schmacher has simply had an unfortuante start to the season. Sure he is not blameless for everything, but his team are at fault too. All parties have acknowleged this.

I still think Schmacher will win a race this year, and when he does he will probably retire from racing and move towards a management role. Mercedes will sign Di Resta to replace Schmacher, giving Nico the chance to lead the team.

Lewis will leave Mclaren, but he’s Ferrari bound. He’ll take the WDC this year and number 1!

15

I have admired MSC for his driving skills and wins. His achievements are monumental. But people are right in mentioning the hard truth, age-affecting judgement and reflexes. I think he is just dragging it and living in denial thinking that a win will come and that may be it for him. But in a sport where a ‘second’ is considered a life time it really seems like a very very long shot-even with a good number of races left in the calender.

16

Everyone, really everyone, has been talking about Michael Schumacher being unlucky.

Didn’t Schumacher play mind-games with Rosberg when he came back to F1 in 2010, saying he MUST have the odd number as that brings him luck?

Seems like through the past two years and this third year proves that playing mind-games don’t help him anymore.

It’s not about luck, it’s just him.

17

He isn’t the force he once was, but what do you call the gearbox failure in Australia and wheel nut in China?

18

That’s odd car number not helping him =)

19

Schumacher was great

No question

But had he got the same results against his team mates at Ferrari in the late nineties or early noughties, as he has against Rosberg, would he then have been deemed the number two driver as happened to Irvine and Barrichello?

Probably, as that was/is Ferrari’s policy so one has to suggest he is not the driver he once was.

20

James, correct me if I’m wrong but I read somewhere that Mercedes’ involvement in the sport is more than just as a team..

Don’t they supply vehicles for use by F1? Like the pace and medical cars, and staff discounts to people who wish to buy Mercs in the paddock? I even remember Bernie flashing his new Maybach a few years back? I’m sure he didn’t pay full retail on it right?..

I saw somewhere that with the generous discounts Merc offers to F1 when cars are bought, when those people decide to offload them, the original discount from Merc is so good that even with the depreciation factored in the buyers come out with a profit.

And it’s been pretty clear that Merc has had a presence in F1 for almost 2 decades now so why the snub by Mr E? Technically that particular team with that particular name has been around a short time yes, but the Merc flags have been waving in F1 grandstands since at least 1994 for one reason or another.. No one could deny that Merc is a major player in F1. So why the snub then?…

21

I think if Michael wins a race this year he will call it quits and claim he has proven himself a winner in a young man’s sport. The field is so much tighter than in his Ferrari hey day, the drivers are much better in terms of quality and the sport has changed with new rules and limited testing (he was after all a man with his own personal test driver). Like him or hate him he is on the one of the best there ever has been but I think his return has hurt his image slightly. It is not the same sport he lefted and it has moved on and I think it is time that he did as well.

Looking at it maybe it would be good for both the team and Hamilton for him to go there. He has links with Mercedes, is highly marketable, gets on with Nico, force Nico to raise his game and probarly could do with a change.

22

Hamilton admitted tyres will play a leading role in the championship, Vettel today said he doesn’t see how his team can go from perfect weekend to what happened in Spain.

Seems other drivers are being more diplomatic in their critism of the Pirellis, bit they are more or less getting at what Schumacher has said so bluntly.

It’s turning into a farce this year. Hopefully everything will be back to normal before summer break, but seriously, if there’s another team except for Renault (they’ve actually been the consistantly fast team this year) that wins this GP, I’m done for this year.

23

Fry’s talk reminds me of when Button was with Brawn. Got the impression Fry’s words had something to do with JB moving on despite Ross saying he’d wanted him to stay. Fry has never particularly impressed me, seems more right place/right time…

24

Mercedes should call Bernie’s bluff and quit, head off to road car racing.

25

Schumacher should be put to pasture. He’s been destroyed by Rosberg and put in his place by mid-field drivers. Earlier, Rosberg made a clean pass on Senna. Later, Schumacher made a clumsy attempt to pass Senna that ended in tears. I’m tired of all the excuses. Schumacher is not delivering the results. He has shown himself to be a petty little man. He’s unjustly claimed the lower race number at Mercedes GP even though he’s never earned it. He even pulled a cheap and petty overtake on Rosberg at Monaco for which he was penalized. He’s become a shame of a journeyman driver. He is yet another sportsman who didn’t know when to quit.

26

Regarding Merc not being on the F1 board, is there any indication from Bernie as to why not?

I think if I were them I’d be a little miffed. I might seriously consider dropping out and taking my engines with me. There are several other racing series to exploit.

27
James Clayton

Mercedes to IndyCar taking Hamilton and Schumacher with them.

There’s a prospect that will NEVER happen, but would love to see Bernie confronted with that one!

28

I’m a big MS fan – but have to admit the ‘edge’ is no longer there. Would love to see him get a couple of results – and end on something of a high. Since his come-back I have really enjoyed his general ‘never-say-die’ attitude – he has kept smiling, is always a team man – his greatest attribute – and he clearly enjoys what he’s doing. For these reasons, his comeback has not not damaged his legacy – but it pains me to see him struggling for those vital 1/10ths which are the difference between great and also-ran. Go Michael – turn back the clock – one more time …

29

Does anyone else think this attention on Schumacher is being exaggerated by the media?

I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a witch-hunt because that’s too dramatic but I do think the level of criticism is a bit extreme.

Perhaps I’m in the minority? Well almost certainly! Very reputable journalists are all saying the same thing; whether it’s James, or Joe Saward, Andrew Benson etc. everyone seems to be piling on Schumacher.

BUT

Hasn’t Schumacher had his strongest performance relative to Nico Rosberg since his comeback started in terms of driving? Did Nico not look firmly pegged behind Schumi during the first two weekends?

I believe that’s true.

Of course, Schumacher is sat on 2 points so far this season but from 5 races, he’s suffered 2 retirements through mechanical failure whilst running 2nd and 3rd respectively.

In another 2, he has found himself put to the back of the grid; once through a team strategy error during Q1 and getting tagged on lap 1 by Grosjean in the other.

So, in 4/5 races (80%), his performances have been compromised through no fault of his own.

However, the media are great at twisting stories.

For example:

In Bahrain, Schumacher started 22nd on the grid and finished 10th. In Barcelona, Lewis Hamilton started 22nd and finished 8th, but in a car that set provisional pole, 0.5 seconds clear of anyone else.

The headline on the Guardian website reads: ‘Lewis Hamilton delivers astonishing eighth place in Spanish Grand Prix’

Schumacher’s performance then, astonishing? What do you think?

I find it really frustrating that Schumacher’s situation gets twisted into a crisis, with rambunctious headlines like ‘Worst ever start to the season for Schumacher’?

The headline should read: ‘Worst ever start to the season for Schumacher – but almost none of it is his fault’.

I suppose journalists have to write about something but I’d love to see more balanced opinions.

Schumacher made an error in the last Grand Prix that was pretty stupid for a man of his experience.

Was it his fault?

Yes.

Did Bruno move in the breaking zone?

Yes.

Would a 30-year old Schumacher have run into the back of him?

Probably not.

Should Schumacher have called him an idiot?

Not really (but I can forgive anyone for saying that when they’re sat in a gravel trap!)

Bar that error, Schumacher is matching Rosberg for pace (and bettering him at times). He starts better than Rosberg. And, until the last Grand Prix, Schumacher had raced very well.

Unless everyone thinks Rosberg is an also-ran (which Mercedes are pretty convinced is not the case), then I think Schumacher is doing a pretty good job.

Plus, let’s be honest, Schumacher is absolutely spot-on about the tyres. The current situation isn’t ideal, as the majority of fans agreed on this site a few weeks ago.

Most people enjoy the new style of F1 racing, for sure. It’s unpredictable and exciting. But I haven’t heard a single person argue that great racing AND tyres you can push wouldn’t be better.

It’s not Pirelli’s fault; they have designed tyres to a spec.

However, the right tyres for F1 should provide a small advantage for careful driving, not make it essential to drive like a granny or else you’ll get nowhere.

The balance has tipped the wrong way and I can’t understand why so many observers / commentators won’t acknowledge that and consider option number 3 i.e. Pirelli make tyres that last 15 laps, with a big drop-off but can be pushed up to that point? Is that impossible? With all the scientific wizardry at their disposal, surely there is a better solution?

All of this is strictly one man’s opinion, of course. But I’m confident Schumacher will take his opportunity when it comes. And it will come if he carries on.

Don’t write him off yet.

30

And now look at the terribly misquoted article that Benson has now just posted about Brawn’s opinion on Schumacher…. Unbelievable!! http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/18204882

31
Craig @ Manila

Nice summation Matt. Kudos.

32

@Matt : Yes!!! Thank you for writing all that. I particularly like what you said about Michael’s performance in Bahrain compared to Hamilton’s in Spain. 😀

And yes, boo to Andrew Benson. 🙁

33

The thing is not only did the media not say Schumacher had a good recovery drive in Bahrain but they said he was whining about the tyres because he had a bad race not because actually the tyres are indeed crap.

This is how stupid the tabloid media is or expects people are who read their stories.

34
val from montreal

As a hardcore Schumacher fan for the past 20 years , I would be happier if he retires than continuing like this … as for the Schumi-haters , ( you all know who you are ) just remember that Ferrari have only won 1 WDC since 2006 , and it was under Todt’s watch and that 2007 Ferrari car still had Schumacher’s DNA on it …

Alonso IS the one who is overly over-hyped ….

Has’nt won a title since his Renault’s days …a very , very long time ago !!

Now that’s embarrassing !!

35
hero_was_senna

Isn’t it funny how you forget to mention that it was Jean Todt, Rory Byrne and Ross Brawn who designed and ran the team back then.

You conveniently omit the fact that Ferrari have won only 1 WDC since TWO THOUSAND AND FOUR (2004) because it backs up your claim.

But hang on, I know exactly why. Those were Schumacher years at Ferrari, so let’s change the year so it speaks of Ferrari post Schumacher.

The 2007 Ferrari team still had Todt’s influence on it and 2008 they lost out by 1 point. But both years they won the WCC.

In 2010, in arguably the 3rd best car of the year, Alonso would have won the WDC but for a strategy mistake.

Also, before you start believing otherwise, I’m no Schumi hater,I know he was the best driver between 2nd May 1994 till 2003 and he won at Ferrari, but what always saddened me about him was his desire for submissive team-mates.

He was told in early 2006 that Kimi had been signed for 2007, and Ferrari wanted him to remain with the team.

Marlboro was willing to pay out $60,000,000 in salaries that year and what did MSC do?

He ran, scared of comparison to a young F1 star. His decision disappointed me, because I have never particularly rated Kimi and felt this would be the perfect way to demonstrate to the world how good he was.

Obviously he didn’t have the same self belief in his own abilities.

He never wanted competition and the saddest thing was he had so much ability, he never needed to be like that.

36

“He was told in early 2006 that Kimi had been signed for 2007, and Ferrari wanted him to remain with the team.

Marlboro was willing to pay out $60,000,000 in salaries that year and what did MSC do?

He ran, scared of comparison to a young F1 star. “

I have heard the story but that’s juts pure speculation!!!

37

Yes it’s just speculation, i’m talking about the whole story not the $60,000,000 stating:”He ran, scared of comparison to a young F1 star. His decision disappointed me, because I have never particularly rated Kimi and felt this would be the perfect way to demonstrate to the world how good he was.” was just speculation without any proof that Michael reason to leave F1 because he scared?? That’s just once a journalist thought or opinion without any valid backing on it and not all website is credible(James Allen one is an exception.) and not all team and drivers want to take it into law manner because some speculation just purely nosense. Like the Alonso-Mclaren case some website is pro and some anti Alonso or Mclaren, so far we never know the real truth behind the scene but Mclaren and Alonso choose not too respond about some speculation and they don’t always take into law!!

38
hero_was_senna

Reporters/ Journalists and authors write about facts and stories they can prove or back up, otherwise all manners of laws come into play.

This wasn’t speculation on a website, this was printed in motorsport publications.

Not that MSC ran away, but that Marlboro and Ferrari were happy to go for a super team of MSC and Kimi.

The fact no publisher has ever been forced to apologize or pay costs for these rumors speaks of some element or truth in them.

39

But it was Michael Schumacher that bring them close together, if you read the F1 Racing magazine tribute to Schumacher in 1996 Todt didn’t have the experience to run the team cause he was at Rallying before so it make Schumacher the temporary team boss(i don’t question Todt leader ability but in 1996 in fact Schumacher was the one that get the order including pursuing Brawn and Byrne into Ferrari)and through his dedication and hard work managed to turn Ferrari into successful years

40

Funny too, you have it(F1 Racing tribute to Schumacher) but somehow you still ignoring Schumacher during those years that has the bigger influences such as seeing where the team weaknessess and get it in order while Todt was still lack of experience in F1 during the transfer from rallying and it was Michael that defend Todt when he about to get rid from Ferrari then Michael came to indirectly taking the unofficial team boss, read page 64.

41
hero_was_senna

Funny, I have that magazine. I have many since as well and many books written about Ferrari’s history.

Montezemolo hired Todt for the 1993 season, because Peugeot didn’t want to commit to F!.

You say he was rallying, but you are forgetting he ran the Peugeot sports division which in the mid 80s was rallying. He also initiated the Peugeot Grp C effort, winning Le Mans, I believe and the championship against Jaguar and Mercedes.

Todt started bringing in change in 1993 and 1994 then approached Schumacher during 1995 for Ferrari.

Brawn and Byrne were brought into Ferrari to change the team.

I have no doubt that Schumacher mentioned them to Todt, and I have no doubt they moved because of Schumacher being at Ferrari.

But one thing I can tell you for certain, whatever privlege’s Schumacher had there, running the team wasn’t one of them.

All their dedication, hard work and constant testing brought about dominance which probably won’t be seen again.

I thank them all, but let’s not re-write history please.

42

It’s quite an assumption to claim Schumacher ran away scared in 2007.

43

Then again, Massa was seen as somewhat of a protege for the Ferrari team, so that is still a more likely explanation that MS being scared.

44
hero_was_senna

It was also quite ridiculous that a man who had dominated that team for 10 years and had drivers supporting him throughout, would give as way of explanation that he was thinking about Massa’s career when he decided to retire.

45

I am not the biggest Schumacher fan, that said I hope he wins one more race this year so he can get on with his life; and make way for a younger driver!

46

I think the question is “Is he having fun?” If he is, then I’m sure he’ll carry on. If not, then I expect he’ll pack it in. At the moment, it’s clear he’s not enjoying himself, but all it would take, I imagine, is the whiff of a victory in his nostrils and that would change.

47
hero_was_senna

From everything I have ever read on successful sports people, whether tennis, snooker or F1, their biggest fear is failure. That’s what drives them.

48

He must be terrified at the moment then!!!

More seriously, high performers (not just in sport) love what they do, and that makes it easier for them to put in the hours, deal with the setbacks, take the risks etc. Schumacher does not “need” to be in F1 for any reason that I can see (maybe he invested his whole fortune in Facebook) except to satisfy himself. I think his recent comments show that he’s not very satisfied at the moment and he’ll be asking himself whether it is better to quit (and protect his reputation), or continue. Having said that, I’m sure if he were to win, he’d be a happy driver again, and all talk of retirement would be forgotten.

49

Schumacher is consistently performing much more

poorly than many other drivers who are using the exact same tires. So it must be the fault of the tires ? It is pathetic to see someone who was once a champion

now whining instead of getting down to business and

competing. Do we see Alonso whining ? Do we see

Button whining ? Do we see Kimi whining ? No.

There is no way in this version of the universe that Schumacher will ever win another F1 championship.

He had his time of glory and it is firmly in the past.

The best part of all of this is that some of the truths about Schumacher which were concealed in the past

are now being revealed. Namely that a substantial amount of his “superiority” in the past had more to do with his equipment than with his driving ability.

50

“The best part of all of this is that some of the truths about Schumacher which were concealed in the past are now being revealed. “

+N on this.

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