As an issue of F1 Racing magazine put it “Mercedes’ 3 year gamble… And this is year 3”.
In 2010, the “Silver Arrows” re-joined F1 after a long 55 year wait, and also making a return was the most successful F1 driver ever, Michael Schumacher. It was a gamble. Would the seven time world champion make it to the top? Unfortunately, No. Not yet. In the first two years of his return, his team mate, Nico Rosberg outshone him in nearly every race. However, Mercedes didn’t have a car ready to match the Red Bull’s and Ferrari’s and McLaren’s who led the battle to win races. In 2012 however, Mercedes hard work has paid off and they have developed into one of the fastest teams on the grid.
The Red Baron, now turned The Silver Baron would now be under even more pressure. With a potentially race winning car at his disposal, could he finally claim a win, or even a podium?
In the season opening Grand Prix, The Australian Grand Prix, Schumacher qualified fourth, ahead of his team mate. He was doing quite well in the Grand Prix, indeed running 3rd, before a gearbox failure forced him to retire the car.
In Malaysia, he qualified 3rd before a feisty Romain Grosjean spun him at the start of the Grand Prix, sending him to the back of the field. He had a good recovery but could only make it up to 10th to grab the final point on offer.
In China, Schumacher’s team mate, Nico Rosberg took his first ever pole position with his team mate alongside him on the front row. Both Mercedes’ were doing quite well, Rosberg 1st and Schumacher 2nd and both pulling away from the pack until a pit stop error on lap 8 sent Schumacher out of the race with a loose wheel nut.
At the next race in Bahrain, Schumacher was caught out by the fast developing track in Q1 and qualified 18th. After a penalty for changing his gearbox, he started in 22nd. However, he proved his skill and after storming through the grid, he finished in 10th place, in a repeat of the stunning performance he had in Malaysia.
In Spain, Schumacher had just pitted and on fresh tires when Bruno Senna, who was running on badly worn Pirelli’s caught him out in the braking zone and they both crashed out of the race. Schumacher was deemed responsible for the collision and given and 5 place grid penalty for the next race in Monaco.
In Monaco, Schumacher put in a stunning lap to grab his first pole position of his return. However, after his penalty from Spain was put in place, he started in 6th place. At the start of the Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean careered into his path, damaging his car and causing him to retire later in the race.
The point I’m trying to make is that Schumacher isn’t driving particularly badly, but he has been extremely unlucky. In Australia, China and Monaco, his retirements weren’t his fault, but a gearbox failure, pit error and damage respectively. Similarly, He cannot be blamed for his bad performance in Malaysia, but rather Romain Grosjean who spun him out. In Bahrain, he didn’t have a bad car but suffered rotten luck and was caught out by a fast developing track.
The only bad performance you can blame on him was the Spanish Grand Prix. In this case, it was an error of judgement, similar to Mark Webber’s terrifying flip in Valencia. Bruno Senna was on badly worn tyres and had just collided with Romain Grosjean while Grosjean tried to go around him. Senna was trying to not put up too much of a fight and was letting the frontrunners through without too much of a fight, but Schumacher misjudged Senna’s braking distance and hit the back of his Williams.
So overall, Schumacher hasn’t been bad. He has been strong when the car was strong and suffered when the car wasn’t. The main factor of poor Schumi’s bad results is awful luck. Hopefully though, he can pull through and win a race before the season ends, like his team mate did in China. And judging by his team mates pace, this shouldn’t be an impossible goal.