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Analysis: Michael Schumacher decides to retire for good
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Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Oct 2012   |  10:30 am GMT  |  195 comments

[Updated] Michael Schumacher has called time on his second coming in F1, the seven times world champion announced today that the Brazilian Grand Prix will be his 306th and last.

At 43 years 277 days, Schumacher is nearly twice the age he was when he made his F1 debut at the 1991 Belgian GP (22 years 235 days) and he holds the record for the longest period between his first and last GP starts.

Schumacher, 43, was forced into retirement for the second time by Mercedes’ decision to hire Lewis Hamilton, which followed a period of indecision from Schumacher about whether to sign on for another year. It follows his decision in 2006 to quit, which led to three years on the sidelines before his dramatic decision to come back with Mercedes in 2010.

“Although I am still able to compete with the best drivers, at some point it is good to say goodbye,” he said in Suzuka on Thursday.

“During the past month I was not sure if I still had the motivation and energy which is necessary to go on. It is not my style to go on if I’m not 100% with it but with today’s decision I feel relieved.

“In the end, it is not my ambition to just drive around but to fight for victories; and the
pleasure of driving is nourished by competitiveness.

“I said at the end of 2009 that I want to be measured by my success, and this is why I had a lot of criticism in the past three years which partly was justified.

“It is without doubt that we did not achieve our goals to develop a world championship fighting car. But it is also very clear that I can still be very happy about my overall achievements in the whole time of my career.


“In the past six years I have learned a lot about myself. For example, that you can open yourself without losing focus. That losing can be both more difficult and more instructive than winning. Sometimes I lost sight of this in the early years. But you appreciate to be able to do what you love to do. That you should live your convictions and I was able to do so.”

This last paragraph is a nod in the direction of some of his mistakes in his early career, where he crossed the line of what is and is not acceptable in the pursuit of winning in sport. It’s the closest he will come to apologising for events like Monaco 2006 and others.

Schumacher’s comeback has indeed yielded precious few results and a lot of disappointments. There was one pole position, in Monaco, which was taken away with a grid penalty carried over from Spain for causing a collision.

There was no win and just one podium, from his race in Valencia, while he scored four fourth places among his results in the 52 races since his comeback. He scored points on 30 of those 52 races, but also had some bad luck with mechanical failures, especially this year, where he has retired five times with reliability issues. In total he has retired 7 times in 2012, the most in the field.

He averaged 3.6 points over the three years, which is the equivalent of an eighth place at every race.

In comparison to team mate Rosberg, who hasn’t had a great season since his win in China in April, (apart from P2 in Monaco) Schumacher scored 191 points compared to Rosberg’s 324 in the 52 race period since the start of 2010. Rosberg’s average is 6.2 points per race.

In qualifying, Schumacher is ahead of his team mate this year, averaging position 7.7 on the grid, compared to 8.5 for Rosberg.

In 2011 Rosberg was on average P7.6 on the grid and Schumacher P10.5, so there has been a marked improvement in his qualifying performance this year.

He’s outqualified Rosberg 8-6 this season. The last occasion that Schumacher led a Grand Prix was on this track in Suzuka in 2011.

In Spa Bernie Ecclestone said that it was a shame that Schumacher would be “leaving us without a win” on his comeback and he and Mercedes will feel the same way. In reality the car wasn’t particularly close to it, except for the China weekend this year which Rosberg capitalised on and Monaco.

Had Schumacher not made that mistake in Spain, crashing into Bruno Senna, he would have started from pole in Monaco and that could have given him the win, given how competitive Rosberg’s car was in the race (notwithstanding his car let him down in the race)

The timing of the Hamilton announcement and Schumacher’s statement today is particularly cruel, given that it comes after one of his worst mistakes in the last three years; rear ending Jean Eric Vergne in Singapore, for which he was given another grid penalty carried over to this weekend in Japan.

It is a real low note on which to conduct the business of losing your seat and subsequently stepping down and it comes after a period in which he has rediscovered his groove.

Many fans that will be disappointed that he has not been taken up by Ferrari or Sauber, but F1 is an unsentimental business and the sport is moving on, like a train, leaving the 43 year old behind on the platform for good.

It’s hard to see him reinventing himself in a team management role, given the changes that have happened at Mercedes with Niki Lauda coming in. If there was a role for Schumacher, that was probably it, although Ross Brawn did say in Monza that Schumacher’s expertise in engines would be very valuable to them in development of the 2014 engines. But that was before they hired Hamilton.

Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche said in Bild newspaper this week, “I hope that when Michael stops driving, he will remain a partner of Mercedes.”


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1

Here is my unique perspective of MSC’s lasting legacy for us all.

I hope you enjoy!

http://supermarketpeople.co.uk/archives/1899

2

It is funny how everything seems to be turned around since his comeback. In the past, everything he touched, turned into gold.

But was it real gold anyway? A few illustrations:

Adelaide, 1994. Schumacher goes off, Hill pays the price.

In 1996 he had a popular win in Monza. The truth is that he clipped the tyre barrier just like many others, but got away with that.

If Alesi had done the same…

Monaco, 1997. Everybody remembers this as a dominant, legendary victory. Actually he lost concentration there too, but luckily there was enough space at SteDevote…

Suzuka, 2003. Makes a really half-hearted overtaking attempt on Sato, therefore switching the title race out of his control. But who remembers that? For most of the audience, the number of titles that turned on was more important than how it was achieved.

The story of Schumacher shows really well how much hype there is in F1.

Today, when he misses his braking point, he now bangs it into other cars. When he stalls his car, he is unsure what to do and suddenly looks like an amateur, not like the most experienced driver in the grid.

When the car is rubbish, it more or less stays like that, year after year. At best, only his teammate benefits from improvements.

How come? It used to be Michael who made minced meat out of his teammates. It cant be that it was not Schueys brilliance, but engineers that made the prancing horse fast again, right?

I don’t think Michael had lost something when he came back. He was just as good as he used to be, but that’s where the problem lies. He was never that good as statistics indicated.

Sad to see him stopping. I really hope to see him doing endurance racing some day (again). And preferably, share the car with Hakkinen:)

3

As they say “if my aunt had testicles, she’d be my uncle”. So while wondering why Schumacher’s car didn’t break after clipping a tyre wall, you might as well wonder why the 1994 championship went to the last race despite Schumacher being banned for 4 races for no fault of his, and yet was in a position to take the tile from Hill.

In 1996 he won 3 races – more than what messrs Alesi and Berger had managed in 3 years. 1997, he took a half-cooked car to the wire. In 1998, he would’ve won had Ferrari not goofed up by being late to cool his car down with ice on pits. Despite starting last, he had fought till 4th when his Goodyears gave up. In 1999, he broke his leg, and the way he toyed with Mika in Sepang later that year made Irivine say “the guy is depressing. He is not just the best no.1 in the world, but also the best no.2!”. In 2005, FIA successfully scuttled his dominance by arranging rules that favored Michelin cars. In 2006, Ferrari where nowhere until Canada, and his engine gave up when he was leading the title battle in Suzuka, and in Brazil he showed why he was still the best.

As i said..if my aunt had balls she’d be..

4

James,

I had an idea and thought you’re the only person who may be able to pass it on, as Seb likes to change his helmets regularly maybe he could wear a Schumacher tribute in Brazil? A nice bright red top and some pictures on the back, that would be right up his street wouldnt it?

5

I voted “no” in your poll James because he should have retired some years ago! Michael’s comeback has been sad. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for his proper fans. You can’t achieve what he did in F1 and expect to get away with anything less on a comeback and not be called out on it. It seemed like a lose-lose situation at the time and so it has proved to be. A lot of good Grand Prix drivers while away their dotage in sportscars or touring cars, where they used to be able to get away with being a bit slow and over-the-hill, I suppose it is only logical that one of the greatest of them all should do this, actually in F1 for a mid-grid team.

Most Schumacher advocates point to his stats and averages as his claim to greatness, but the last few years have really hurt that.

It seems Nikki Lauda has beaten Michael to the punch and sealed the ‘Old Driver Swanning Around In The Background Lining His Pockets, Stoking His Ego And Generally Causing Trouble’ role at Mercedes by turning Hamilton’s head, so no roo fpr Schumi there. Why would he want to do it anyway? He didn’t enjoy it much at Ferrari.

Lewis is useless at testing right? He’d probably go the wrong way with setup, then tweet the resuls. Eddie Irvine slates Schumi’s testing skills in your book does he not James?

6

Hilarious.

I hope merc doesn’t win anything for the next few years. Sreves them right for dumping schumi

7

James, with Schumacher’s impressive form against Rosberg this year and Ferrari looking for a filler before Vettel perhaps in 2014. Why where they so set against giving Schumacher a chance for 2013??

8

Most viewers tend to see only from a fan’s perspective.

Ferrari is still a company afterall, and from Ferrari’s perspective, they’d want someone for the long run, not just stop and go. It doesn’t help with car development, the next guy after Michael will have to get used to the team again and vice versa, then the whole thing would make the team members feel “he’s going to go in less than a year anyway, so why bother fitting things around him?”

9
Mauro Fittibaldi

It is funny how everything seems to be turned around since his comeback. In the past, everything he touched, turned into gold.

But was it real gold anyway? A few illustrations:

Adelaide, 1994. Schumacher goes off, Hill pays the price.

In 1996 he had a popular win in Monza. The truth is that he clipped the tyre barrier just like many others, but got away with that.

If Alesi had done the same…

Monaco, 1997. Everybody remembers this as a dominant, legendary victory. Actually he lost concentration there too, but luckily there was enough space at SteDevote…

Suzuka, 2003. Makes a really half-hearted overtaking attempt on Sato, therefore switching the title race out of his control. But who remembers that? For most of the audience, the number of titles that turned on was more important than how it was achieved.

The story of Schumacher shows really well how much hype there is in F1.

Today, when he misses his braking point, he now bangs it into other cars. When he stalls his car, he is unsure what to do and suddenly looks like an amateur, not like the most experienced driver in the grid.

When the car is rubbish, it more or less stays like that, year after year. At best, only his teammate benefits from improvements.

How come? It used to be Michael who made minced meat out of his teammates. It cant be that it was not Schueys brilliance, but engineers that made the prancing horse fast again, right?

I don’t think Michael had lost something when he came back. He was just as good as he used to be, but that’s where the problem lies. He was never that good as statistics indicated.

Sad to see him stopping. I really hope to see him doing endurance racing some day (again). Preferably, sharing the car with Hakkinen.

10

This just doesn’t feel right.

Is this how it’s going to end? This reminds me of Zinedine Zidane and how he left the pitch for the final time with his head down…after so many wonderful things he did for the game…

12

For some reason I’m more sad on this retirement than the previous one. I know I’m not watching Schumacher at his best any more but still …

13

Finally, thought he’d never leave……

Sorry but no, Schumachers legacy is too tainted for me to find any kind words. When others have fought tooth and nail with team mates in what was and as always been a dangerous sport he courted No.1 status so team mates were risking their lives for nothing. (now Alonso seems to be courting this too)…its cowardly.

And robs all his achievments of any weight.

I recall Adalaide…. I stayed up all night to watch the season climax between him and Hill. I remember it like yesterday.

So the comeback flopped and the realisation that father time will kick you in the nuts regardless of who you are…… if F1 needed a villan he played is part well. But I won’t miss Schumacher.

Actually writing this post made me realise I do understand those Hamilton haters…wow.

14

Hope in this last 6 races Schumi can make a podium but looks hard in that W03 piece of crap

15

I wonder what Kimi will be doing during the presentation for Schumi’s retirement the second time around…

16

Maybe he’ll be taking a whizz this time

17

I miss the “too late”-button at the voting.

:-I

18

Hey James, have you read Jackie stewards apparent comments regarding Michael’s second retirement? I find it strikes of bitterness, and a tinge of jealousy perhaps to denounce him like that – comparing stats even like a smug schoolboy.

Though Jackie has done a lot of championing in safety for F1 over the years,and though I used to despise MS’s dominance at the start of the decade, its strikes me as a little untimely and untactful.

Ive warmed to MS a lot more in recent years than in his first career stint, and I would dearly love to see him win one of the last six races to see him off.

No fool like an old fool as they say ( in JYS)

19

Stewart has always been anti current champions and bitter about Ferrari for as long as i can remember. He had things to say about Prost when Prost joined Ferrari, he had stuff to say about Senna and once he became a team owner, he never let go an opportunity to criticize Ferrari and Schumacher. Heck ! Stewart even had problem with James Hunt’s clothes!

20

Jackie Stewart may well have multiple championships, but he is a [mod] who should often keep his silly opinions to himself. [mod] He says of Michaels crashes recently, that champs like Prost,Senna,Mansel wouldn’t make frequent contact like that. Stewart has conveniently forgotten about the interview, during which Senna mauled him and spat him out, after Stewart accused Senna of being involved in twice the number of shunts as other drivers. I’m sorry, as much I respect Stewart for his titles, the man is just comes across and a big headed old fool with his coments. What Schumi has achieved at his age is incredible. Lets not forget that he has been mixing it up in the top 8-10 for the last 2 seasons with 5 other world champs almost half of his age. Respect to Michael for having a go. His image is not damaged in my opinion, especially wit his pace this year. How many 43 years old would be capable of taking pole at Monaco? Lets give the man credit where it is due. I can’t wait to hear what one sided negative nonsense Brundle and Coulthard come out with this weekend, or perhaps they will give Michael credit where it is due!

21

‘Senna mauled him and spat him out’? That wasn’t my impression of that interview – from where I sat, Senna showed complete incomprehension of the fact that anyone could have the temerity to criticise his actions and offered no defence of the statistics that Jackie Stewart offered. When I watched the Senna movie in a large public theatre, there were numerous cheers from those who saw Senna being called on his actions.

22

he will defently carry on racing … like his motorbike races in IDM

maybe le mans? but there’s no mercedes there ..

greetings

23

Schumacher was never going to achieve anything like his previous results, because of all the rule changes regarding tightening up driving standards,if they had been in force during his heydey he would have had many more penalties, driving into Hill, trying to drive Villenue off the road, etc etc he even tried it on with Barrichelo on his return, not worried if he shoved him into a concrete pit wall !! and then of course all the wins gifted to him.

24

I agree with the others who say they much prefer Schumacher version 2.0. I wish he would have stayed and tried Sauber. I too would have gotten burnt out with a car that hasn’t improved in 3 years; but whereas the Mercedes just goes backwards in the race, the Sauber generally goes forwards. A race winner? Who’s to say. But surely a more fun car capable of the on-track battles that Michael loves – gaining a position, not losing one.

As far as Sauber’s need for sponsorship, aren’t there dozens of sponsors constantly swarming Schumacher like flies? Seems to me he could have brought them as much money as a “pay driver” in that regard.

Funny how badly I wanted Barrichello out the door to make room for the younger guys, yet I’m not ready to see the end of Schumacher, who I once despised.

So even without wins, he won me over, as well as many new fans I’m sure. In that sense, his comeback may not be the disgrace and disappointment some may think.

25

I am so glad that I finally got to see Schumacher drive at Silverstone this year. Even though I never liked him at his peak, I always admired his talent, and he definitely mellowed in his second career. It is a shame he is not going to Ferrari; I am sure Alonso mind him as a team mate, and he would certainly push him harder than Massa is at the moment. However, without the option of a competitive drive, it is correct for Schumacher to call time on his career. But if motorsports fans were asked the same question of Sebastien Loeb’s decision to go into semi-retirement, I am sure the response would be definitely not.

26

Goodbye Michael. Ferrari fans will never forget you, even though you became more German than we would like… I’ll never forget your three stopper charge to victory in Hungary 1998. And yeah, I saw you flashing by at Monza this year

27

I know it’s wishful thinking, but I really do hope circumstances arise over the next six races where Schumacher finds himself in a position to get that one single win of his comeback.

It’s sad to see a legend retire with his most recent results being very mediocre. It could be worse though, at least his legendary legacy won’t be affected as Lance Armstrong’s is.

Michael Schumacher is still a 7 time world champion. Although possible, I don’t think anyone will ever match him on wins.

I’d love to see a new team pop up in the future, perhaps by the name of “Schumacher F1”. He could get Vettel as one of his drivers.

28

I am sad on the one hand because he had proved that he was still good enough. He has really shown Nico up this year even if the championship points don’t reflect it. However, he wasn’t as good as he was so perhaps it is for the best. His comeback wasn’t a failure, he’s actually done better than someone his age after three years out should have done. The initial aims were however too high and Mercedes failed to deliver a decent car.

I personally don’t think his legacy is tarnished, the numbers are still there and being able to still set pole at Monaco (whether it counted or not) is impressive. One thing he has done is shown his humanity and his personality. A lot are saying that they previously didn’t like him but now they do. He was always a champion but considered by many to be a robot with little personality. He has improved his image in my view over the last two years, and that is no waste. Good luck Michael, whatever you choose to do, F1 is poorer without you.

29

James, if you talk to Michael this weekend, please tell him he’ll be thoroughly missed on this side of the pond ( US of A ). And a pub full of people in Baltimore,Maryland will be cheering him on every lap when he races in TX.

Thank him for giving many F1 fans like me a reason to watch races for a good part of 2 decades now.

30
Val from montreal

First mistake Schumacher made was confidently stating he was going to be fighting for the world championship on that famous december 23rd day in 2009 ….second mistake he made was believing in Ross Brawn ….. 3rd mistake Schumacher made was signing for Mercedes for 3 years … And my mistake as his fan was giving Mercedes the benefit of the doupt …. He wasted 3 great years at Mercedes ….. Im glad that I did not waste my hard earned $$$ on any Mercedes f1 Petronas merchandise these last 3 years … Nothing , not even a t-shirt !! At least Schumacher redeemed himself this season because he has been the better Mercedes driver of the two …. Brazil 2012 is the last F1 race for me as a viewer …. And the ” edge of greatness ” book that I got will be buried in my backyard , the only thing im keeping are the pictures ..

31

what a shame. Just as he found his groove. He could have done with one more reliable year. F1 just got a whole lot more boring!! What with the restrictions on development, standard ecus, etc etc, the sport is losing it’s appeal fast. We desperately need more innovation and less restriction in F1. Losing Schumi has probably just lost a big draw for many viewers.

I must admit, the last of the old school going will shorten my attention span for f1 considerably. Thank god for the likes of Webber and Button still around.

Merc have failed Rosberg and Schumi badly. Lewis really has his work cut out for him. Merc are second rate compared to Mclaren, Ferrari and Red Bull.

32

Its sad. Though I didnt like Schumi in his initial years, its sad that he is pushed out of the sport like this. He has been better than Rosberg this year and I would have liked to see him and Hamilton in Mercedes rather than Rosberg.

33

From a neutral point of view, this is disappointing – particularly considering that Schumacher was on an upward trend prior to the Singapore incident.

The Mercedes car hasn’t been competitive in any of the last three years. Realistically, his only chance to start winning was this year, and that was hampered massively by reliability issues.

In 2010, he was 75% of his old self

In 2011, 80%

In 2012, 85%;

The trend was obvious and had it continued, we could very well have been talking about the second coming of Schumi. Fine margins.

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