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What now for Schumacher? Germany speculates…
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Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Oct 2012   |  2:07 pm GMT  |  337 comments

The news that Michael Schumacher will not race for Mercedes next season unsurprisingly continues to dominate the sports news agenda in Germany, as the country’s media speculates on what the seven-time world champion may or may not do next.

It’s from the angle of Schumacher’s departure from the race seat, rather than Lewis Hamilton’s arrival, that the newspaper articles have naturally generally been pitched from with the consensus being that there is no escaping from the blunt fact that Schumacher was dropped by Mercedes, with the 43-year-old’s own indecisiveness over his future having ensured he is no longer the master of his F1 destiny.

Germany’s biggest circulation newspaper, Bild, has carried a string of reaction stories since Friday’s announcement and on Saturday ran an article entitled “Gambled and sacked. Mercedes drops Schumacher” which contained the opening line “what an undignified farewell for the greatest racer of all time”.

It goes on to suggest that the German legend “gambled heavily” by delaying a decision over his 2013 plans as “he imagined himself in a safe position” given it was only recently that Mercedes fancied its chances of luring Hamilton away from McLaren.

With Mercedes’ statement announcing Hamilton’s arrival having surprisingly contained no information on what the 43-year-old will do next, Bild has since offered hope to the German’s fans by suggesting that it is “50-50” whether he will retire again or carrying on racing elsewhere on the grid, with his spokeswoman Sabine Kehm quoted as saying that “anything is possible”.

While the offer of an advisory or ambassadorial role with Mercedes is said to be on the table, the tabloid suggests that switches to Sauber, Lotus or Ferrari could not yet be ruled out, making clear that the “racer’s fire still burns and “he is not about money”.

However, other newspapers are less enamoured about the prospect of Schumacher trying to extend his career still further. Under the headline, “Schumacher off the track – Brutal end of career”, Die Welt advises that “Schumacher should leave it at that” and instead consider a switch to team management.

Indeed the newspaper suggests that Schumacher’s clumsy accident in Singapore last weekend firmly led Mercedes to look at the future: “For three years, despite all the mistakes, Mercedes stood behind its star driver. But the disastrous weekend of Singapore has seen the mood swing round. Hamilton suddenly seemed attractive.”

Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel goes further by painting the image of Schumacher as “a hitchhiker without a destination”, going on to say that “the most successful racing driver in history is like a hitchhiker who has been thrown out on the roadside”. The newspaper thinks that the fact Schumacher hasn’t yet announced his future plans shows he is seriously considering trying to race on elsewhere.

It also agrees with Bild that events with Hamilton had simply overtaken Schumacher’s own timeframe: “He did not realise that his name was less significant in its own racing team. As he explained almost cheekily, he would decide no earlier than October, Mercedes had enough. They made contact with Lewis Hamilton and Schumacher suddenly was only a spectator in the race for his own future. At the end of the 91-time Grand Prix winner, was sacked with a press release so cold, as he had done earlier with his opponents.”

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1

Thank you Michael, true legend.

2

Michael retires, truly the end of an era, what a racer, so much spirit and determination and great humility too, especially in the later part of both his F1 careers.

I understand now, why he came back, to be totally complete as a racer and a man he needed to experience pain and loss and in doing so has one a special place in all but the hardest hearts.

Thank you Michael for all you’ve given, it’s been an amazing couple of decades.

Warmest wishes in retirement, live long and enjoy.

3
DanWilliams from Aust

I thought Brawn and SHU were like best friends…? Where leading up to the end of each season after SHU’s first retirement, Brawn would call him up and ask him to drive next season… Well I guess that won’t be happening ever again..

4

there are some more interesting background stories about this whole sorry affair in the current, usually well-informed, “Sportbild”

getting rid of Schumi and hiring Lewis had a lot to do with Mercedes CEO Zetsche, it seems

basically, Zetsche’s fall-out with Ron Dennis is at the core of this

the Mercedes bosses felt betrayed when Dennis decided to launch the McLaren supercar at the same time as they were launching their very own SLS; the partnership broke up shortly afterwards and Mercedes, not least to spite McLaren, decided to start their own team (by taking over Brawn GP)

they were not allowed to hire McLaren staff until 2012 though

luring McLaren’s top driver away is really the coup-de-grace in this saga

also, some sheik from Katar or so seems to own 40% of Mercedes GP; the guy seems to have a major crush on Lewis, so much so that he gives him high-end-cars as presents

another factor in this story is Lauda

the Austrian was brought in to help negotiate the Concorde Agreement with Bernie

apparently, Brawn and Ernie had reached a stalemate , the two don’t seem to get along at all; the Mercedes board then asked Lauda to facilitate, and he did; agreeing terms with Lauda allowed Bernie to make Ross look obsolete

the Mercedes board were so impressed with Lauda that they asked him to stay on in a more permanent capacity

then, there is the Lauda relationship with Schumacher: it seems the Austrian was a consultant at Ferrari when Schumi arrived; Michael was then instrumental in getting rid of Lauda, something he has not forgotten

as for Lauda/Lewis: viewers of his RTL commentary in Germany have always been slightly miffed about his love-in with Hamilton when Vettel first started to contend for the title with Red Bull. Lauda was simply not interested in Vettel AT ALL and always seemed to belittle his achievements, whereas everything Hamilton did was simply brilliant; to German viewers this seems just ridiculously non-patriotic and unjustified as well

as a new consultant Lauda could now orchestrate the Lewis deal and get rid of Schumi at the same time

to the Mercedes board this looked like a good deal; back in Germany their Betriebsrat (employers’ council) was beginning to publicly criticize the F1 commitment as a waste of money at a time of economic hardship, with precious little to show for the investment

the Schumi deal had clearly not catapulted the team into contention and therefore failed

getting a new young face like Hamilton together with Lauda, a very prominent supervisor of the struggling Brawn, allowed the board to pretend this was a fresh start that merited signing the long-term Concorde Agreement

there are also reports that Zetsche got tired of Schumi’s dithering, so much so that he made up his mind at Hockenheim already that Schumi had to go

——

ah well, who knows what is true or not

back in Germany there are MANY fans who are seriously unamused by what they feel is Mercedes kicking out Schumi when really it was Brawn’s car that was not good enough

Hamilton does not generate nearly the same excitement as an admittedly aging Schumacher

the social media are awash with furious Schumacher fans

who certainly do NOT consider the Lewis signing to be a coup at all

pretty much a PR-fiasco

and what a bizarre coincidence that Michael Ballack has just retired from professional football as well

5

Great insight, thx for info, mate!

6

Some interesting points. Zetsche was certainly important in this.

However I can assure you that Lauda has huge respect for Vettel. I interviewed him on the grid in Melbourne 2011 and he said then that Vettel was the strongest driver in the field. I’ve not had a conversation with him since that has changed that impression

7

No, but Lauda is now proclaiming Hamilton to be absolutely the best on the grid ( even in a bad car whenever that was ). Changes his opinion like the wind.

8

Well he would say that wouldn’t he? But the Vettel comment was from a time when he was unattached

9

My passion for Formula 1 is only rivaled by my passion for rooting for MSC. I think Michael was simply pushed aside because of indecision and Ross being overruled by his bosses in Germany. While Michael is a big PR draw his performance has not exceeded the capabilities of the car ie Ferrari 1996.

With no more than 2 years left in the sport, I see Michael options as the following:

#1 Sauber

Peter’s last top flight drivers were Heidfeld and Frentzen… since then, they have been a Ferrari B team for Massa, Perez, and others. Peter no doubt has an affinity to MSC and his star appeal for sponsor dollars in this tough economy could outweigh his nature in putting young drivers in the car… I also expect Michael to waive his salary to drive

#2 Williams

Senna, in the twiglight of his career, came to Williams at what was to be the beginning of their team pinnacle only to be killed at Imola resulting in only 2 championships, 96/97, when more certainly could have been possible. Here is Frank’s chance to turn back the clock and make another run … Frank and MSC are at the end of their time!

#3 Ferrari

Sadly, Massa is not consistent enough while he does, at times, possess the raw speed. Kimi and several other drivers are not Ferrari men the way MSC is. I see this as a very outside chance but certainly is intriguing.

10

I’m a huge MSC fan… I’ve so much respect for the guy… I’m a huge Ferrari fan… but it really is time for him to bow out of F1. He is magically touch / luck has expired when it comes to winning.

If he didn’t return to F1 with Mercedes he’d still have a flawless place in the history books… now history has to be re-written to include his last 3 disasterous years in F1.

As for MSC returning to Ferrari… a lovely thought to see the old champion returning ‘home’ to where the magic started. But Ferrri has a new King…. Alonso… and there isn’t room for them both. Alonso is happy to have an obedient meek Massa as his team-mate…. Alonso wouldn’t tolerate any team-mate challenging his dominence as Ferrari’s premiere driver.

So MSC must do the right thing… and leave F1 gracefully…. go buy into Marussia or start a team and start a new career as a team owner maybe?

11

there is still a twist to this. Schumi will end up at Ferrari with Massa going to Sauber

12

Jeez read into things before speaking such non-sense! Why are there so many like you?

Massa already said previously that if Ferrari were to dump him, he would rather hang up his helmet than carry on with another team just to rack up the numbers!

13

“… was sacked with a press release so cold, as he had done earlier with his opponents.” This is the game.

14
Bass Barreltone

Well, whatever MS decides there will, of course, be a big send off with speeches and the rest. And doubtless Kimi will be doing a number two at the time.

15

Yeah ! because Lewis and Pastor are at retirement age and Sauber have offered them a drive for 2013. Or maybe because both accidentally run into the back of cars regularly at over 200kph- well I guess it’s accidental now & not done intentionally to destroy closest rivals chances of winning championships ..Or maybe they are so good the that whole world can wait till they decide whether they want to drive next year or not or perhaps because they can’t be told with whom or when they will be replaced… Or… Nah that’ll do !

16

some interesting background information to the deal from “auto-motor-sport”

it seems the “Hamilton to Mercedes”-move was still quite shaky until Singapore

according to their sources, the deal was certainly not done in Monza already

a lot depended on Lauda’s involvement, it seems

also with regards to the Concorde-Agreement

the Mercedes managers believe that had Lewis won in Singapore, he would have stayed at McLaren

in that case, Mercedes would have gone for Perez

in other words, in Singapore already, Schumi was third choice

apparently, Bernie did some meddling in the background as well

http://www.auto-motor-und-sport.de/formel-1/hamiltons-weg-zu-mercedes-schumacher-nur-dritte-wahl-5818790.html

meanwhile, Berger thinks Schumi should retire

and even his old manager Weber says Schumi should not go to a small team like Sauber

in the end, it will probably be a gut-decision

my fear is that Shoemaker will be extra motivated in the remaining races and clinch another “surprise” podium

and then retire on a high

17

I would like to see Schmacher buy HRT and drive with de la rosa. That way he is less likely to run up the back of another car and if he does the cash comes out of his pocket.

18

Well

Mercedes probably knows more on why MSC car broke too unusual this session, and I don’t think Singapore crash was not brake related as they had it all weekend.

MSc has been done in heavy this year by Mercedes or a syndicate in there that did not want him to succeed I think.

With the Pirelli Tyres Sauber are the best bet and yes a lil I thank you to Peter for the loan won’t hurt. But there is still a chance Mercesdes can have a third driver in Rosberg.

ST

19

agree with above. schumi much better off out of there. best options are either sauber, ferrari or lotus (unlikely).

every time i see that mercedes – its like waiting for the tires to drop off and them to fall back. you have to remember that compared to rosberg schumi has done pretty well this year! (I think the car is rubbish)

i think sauber could be a dark horse. their car is quite good and could surprise.

sauber would no doubt benefit – as a long list of companies surely would want to cover that white car of theirs.

20

For me he is never the champion so many say he is, he was (this is simply a fact as I see it) a cheat with his first championship won by default as Hill would have been champion had he not been deliberately run into and how could ANY true F1 fan forgive his disgraceful conduct during the Monaco Grand Prix qualifying?

In addition to the above unlike the likes of Senna and even Hamilton, Schumacher never had a true racing team-mate to race against because of his own insistence.

No, for me he’ll not be missed and his whole comeback has been poor to say the least, we all age, time to move on……

21

It’s funny this teammate thing. In his comeback he has had equal status with Rosberg a man 16 years younger than him and he has not disgraced himself.

I wonder if it has ever occured to you that the teams he won championships in actually were teams that hadn’t had any success prior to him joining them. Was it any surprise that they favoured him?

Lastly, Schumacher could have gone to Mclaren or Williams at any point in his career but chose not to. He won all his GP’s on the back of the hard work that he put in in forming these teams. People forget this in attacking him whilst other drivers in history take the simple option and go to the best team.

22

Same as Hamilton -supposedly one of the top current drivers – had some carbon fibre swapping sessions last season. It happens. Not an excuse, just a fact of life.

23

Yep, tell us more how Senna never ran into other cars or his legendary “niceties” towards his peers and team owners. Schumacher probably asked moms around the world to stop producing competitive babies who would grow up and challenge him throughout 90s upto mid-2000s. Wow! The logic some of the haters bring to the table are just priceless !

24

everyone forgets the 3 times was it that hill ran in to the back of schumacher….

25
Val from montreal

Great post Zombie – always a pleasure !! Really funny bit about the moms stopping producing competetive babies throughout the 90’s …. Lol

26

Not counting the Tyrrell days, but since 1999 and the BAR launch, Brackley F1 have only built two quality F1 cars. One being the BAR006 in 2004 and the other being the Brawn in 2009.

2 good cars in 14 years wouldn’t fill me with confidence. I think Schumi is better off out of there and Hamilton has made a very poor career choice.

27

Well Ferrari wasn’t exactly attractive before MSC arrived and made it so successful as we all now know it.

28

The ’04 car was vastly slower than the all-conquering Ferrari, never won a race (unlike Renault, Mclaren and Williams that year), and was only the third fastest car overall until Renault made a deliberate decision to cut resources on the ’04 car and sacrifice second place in the WCC to improve their chances under the revised rules slated for ’05.

BAR-Honda took 2nd place from Renault by a margin of 14 points, with fewer than half Ferrari’s score. Renault won both championships for the next two years.

Personally, I think the BAR ’04 and ’06 cars are both hugely overrated. Just my 2c.

29

Did Schumacher not develope an injured neck when Ferrari asked him to come out of retirement following Massa’s crash?

31

Ross Brawn fell on his feet selling his team to MB…what a dud! and Norbet Haug must surely be answerable to MB board for the recommendation,Norbet is an imposter as a team manager maybe why Niki.L. is there to exert a little pressure. Huge problems for MB racing, the board are considering is it all worth it, providing engines for teams (except Sauber) is the way to go.

32

It’s a shame Schumacher couldn’t build a team of people around him to build him a car that suits him to win a string of championships like he did at Ferrari as he was often accused of doing.

He’ll surely surely announce to those of us interested what he wants to do with the rest of his life.

33

Hi James,

Have you recently published/written any updated versions of your Schumacher biography: Edge of Greatness to include his comeback?

Perhaps you’re waiting to see whether retirement II is about to be announced!

Thanks!

34

No plans to do that

35

Any plans to do a Raikkonen / Alonso?

36

Good, there’d be nothing much to write about.

37

LOL! Great one!!! 😉 😉

“Schumi II – the Rear-Ending Years” ?

38

I remember after the valencia GP the sky team were talking to pat fry and they asked if he was worried about alonso winning the race.

pat fry replied they (everyone in ferraris pit area) were more worried about weather schumacher would get on the podium.

people like benson who has never been positive in his articles about schumacher is speaking rubbish when he claims ferrari have already said they arent interesting in schumacher.

all the high scoring points places schumacher finished from at the start of the season werent this fault yet mercedes are trying to pass off the blame…

gear box is AUS

grosjean in malaysia

wheel not fitted in china

fuel pump in monaco.

and the rest…

seems like haug and brawn have used schumacher as a scape goat for the teams failures.

i feel sorry for hamilton jumping into bed with this team they have no doubt sold him a fairy tale like they did schumacher 3 years ago

39

These Schumacher fans never stop with their spin and fantasies. Schumacher failed in his comeback. He was lucky to last this long based on his performance. Only some charity work from Bernie will see him find seat as a journeyman and support driver. Sports stars fade and are forgotten by the next generation just like pop stars.

40

F1 means business and I’m sure every team wants to get hold of the future heros in F1, I think that’s why Mercedes signed HAM.

It’s not that important comparatively, that if Schumi is being forced out. I think every one has his own perception on this matter.

What I dislike to see is people tend to give little credit to this ‘old man’. I’m gutted to see those pundits critizing Schumi whenever they can on live commentaries. It’s always easy to critize people, but can they do any better if they are on the same seat?

He might score only half the points as Rosberg did in the last 3 years and ran into the back of other’s car a few times. But it’s clear that he did better and better in terms of qualifying and race pace gradually in the last 3 years and even achieved a provisional pole in Monaco. For those who think Rosberg is underestimated, what can u say when u see a man who is 20 years older still improve in his performance on track in a higher degree than u do?

I seriously hope Schumi can secure a driving seat for one more year elsewhere in a better team. After that, if the car has a little more reliability and less tire wear, then win 1 or 2 races and go back into retirement. then other old guys can’t say any thing.

Afterall, he’s still the icon in F1!! please give a little bit more respect

41

Not all German press is like that, a bit of selective quoting I reckon.

The history as I see it.

I heard that Schumacher wanted a 1+1 contract so he could choose to race the 2014 spec cars. Mercedes wanted a 1 year deal. When they asked him, it was quite unsure if and how Mercedes would continue in F1. There was a risk when Schuamcher signed, he got a cash strapped AMG team in stead of Mercedes. Schumacher was a bit downish in Singapore, so he knew allready he was on the way out. They just couldn’t sack him when he was finishing in front of Rosberg all the time.

It is very odd to have such an unreliable car these days. He really was on the wrong end of the garage with those car failures, especially when in a good scoring position. Hamilton gambles he has the right car? If he gets to be WDC, he has an odd number… and odd numbered Mercedes cars are known to are prone to failures. 😉

What about Ross Brawn? The media is very lenient on him, but he is underwhelming at best. He struck gold in 2009, but he tested the whole of 2008 for that car. Strategy wise, he has some monkey at the pitwall making the wrong calls.

He had to sacrifice Schumacher to save his own butt. If Hamilton fails, RB is out. Brawn is a technical director, not a team owner/manager. His spell at Honda and Mercedes show that. It is not without reason that Ferrari didn’t promote him when Todt quit.

42

spot on

Lauda was hired to supervise a somewhat disappointing Ross Brawn and sack him, if need be

the Mercedes board are clearly not impressed with him and rightly so

it seems to me that F1 is such a closely knit community that nobody who is involved in it has a go at the other; if this was football management, Brawn would have been sacked some time ago, unless he was at Arsenal 🙂

it’s also clear from all the comments by Brawn, Haug, Zetsche over the last months that Schumacher was their option A

they only kicked him out, or rather, refused to play his waiting game, precisely because they were unsure he would commit and once Hamilton was on the market they really had to do something, but Schumi was still “dithering”

maybe Schumi overplayed his hand, thinking Mercedes would wait for his decision, but really there was an interesting interview with Ralf on German TV a few days back, where he said that BOTH Schumacher AND Mercedes got what they wanted; then Ralf smiled and said that we should wait and see what would happen next; sounded like Michael deliberately wanted to leave Mercedes because they could not deliver a car in which he could win races, and maybe that at a team like Sauber, he thinks he can

Alonso said in Singapore that Schmumi would have won THREE races in a Sauber this season

still

another German journalist says that Schumi seemed distracted all weekend in Singapore

so maybe Mercedes did catch him on the wrong foot when they went for Hamilton

the silly comments via radio by Brawn or some engineer just after the accident, and the lack of clarification on Brawn’s part about Schumi’s problems with the brakes ALL weekend, do indicate though , that really it was time to leave for Schumi anyway

let’s just hope he ends up at Sauber and beats Lewis in a Mercedes

43

Yes it is more than suited Mercedes not to clarify any possible brake issues with Schumachers car.

Also did they really want to admit to yet another car failure the week they were going to announce Lewis Hamilton as their 2013 driver, I doubt it.

44

TiimW, Schumi is a team player first and foremost. Yeah he’d take one for the team, you can bet your arse on that.

45

And of course Michael would be more than happy for people to think he is an idiot rather than just the victim of a car failure! I’m sure he would take all the vitriol on the chin to help the team who had just sacked him!

46

Let me get this right your saying that Mercedes didn’t want to take the simple telemetry to the stewards that would prove that schumi broke at the correct point and rather he got a 10 place penalty?

By the way I am a massive Schumi fan but I don’t buy this!

47

Schu has a seat ready at sauber but he wants to drive for Ferrari. Ferrari are tempted but are taking time to decide. Vettel will never go to Ferrari while Alonso is there because Ferrari don’t want him and in any case it would be bad for him because he isn’t half the driver Alonso is on a bad day

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