He’s won 91 races, won an outstanding seven world championships, secured a whopping 68 pole positions, led an unimaginable 5096 laps, inspired an entire country to race and starred in ‘Cars’. He’s Michael Schumacher and he’s about to retire from the sport that has held him dear for 21 years. And yet, half the people don’t seem to care.
Its true, his comeback hasn’t been fantastic. Leaving the sport in 2006, He was waved off by the paddock but returned in 2010 to reunite the Schumacher/Brawn arrangement that dominated the sport for five years. But all did not go well and as of Qualifying after the 2012 Indian Grand Prix, He has never won a race, only had one podium (3rd in Valencia) and one pole position (in Monaco) which was cruelly stripped from him after he was penalised five grid places following his crash with Bruno Senna in Catalunya a week earlier. Coming from a home of Schumacher fans, It breaks my heart to see him come under so much criticism from International Media and mockery from fans after his disastrous return. This year alone he has retired from SEVEN Grand Prix – BUT it can be argued that only two were his fault, with mechanical failures being to blame for the other five.
After the Monaco Grand Prix, Newspaper ‘Bild’ published an article showing how he should actually be leading the championship by that stage. The analysis said that Schumacher lost 15 points in Australia with gearbox trouble and 11 points in Malaysia after Romain Grosjean t-boned him in the wet conditions. In China he lost 18 points due to a loose wheel, while battling team-mate Nico Rosberg for the lead of the race. He lost 7 points in Bahrain due to a DRS rear wing problem, and 4 points in Spain in the crash with Bruno Senna.
In Monaco, his pole was stripped from him before yet another fuel pressure problem struck in the race. That might have cost him the win and 25 points, Bild claimed.
It’s agonising to see all these mechanical failures on Schumacher’s side of the garage, while Nico Rosberg has had plain sailing. At the Canadian Grand Prix, Schumacher’s DRS failed, which isn’t uncommon. It was uncommon though, that his wing got stuck OPEN! The wing is usually designed not to do this, and the strength of the Mercedes pit crew failed to close it, forcing him to again retire.
Looking at some of the races where he has been fast, its clear that he definitely has raw pace. During Qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, he set an amazing lap. If you can, look it up and watch it; It’s a pure masterclass in driving.
In Valencia, He started way back in 12th but after a fantastic charge through the field, he finished in 3rd place. This doesn’t sound too hard, but going from 12th to 3rd in Valencia is nearly as hard as doing so in Monaco.
The 2011 Belgian Grand Prix marked Schumi’s 20th year in Formula One. A loose wheel nut sent him out of Qualifying in the opening minutes with a big shunt into the barriers at turn 6. He, without getting to set a time, qualified down in 24th. But, He had the perfect race and finished in a spectacular 5th.
And not just does he have raw pace, but he has massive support in areas. Rita Xiume’s article for the Italian Grand Prix describes Michael Schumacher’s cult following in Italy and how he is possibly even more popular than the local Ferrari.
I was of course saddened at the news that Schumi is to retire at the end of the season. I’ve watched F1 since 2010 and so next year will be the first time that I watch an F1 race without Michael Schumacher competing. Yet, I’m glad that I had three years of watching and supporting Schumacher race. Whether or not you are a Schumacher fan, I think you should acknowledge the end of an era. Our great sport’s most successful driver and most well-known star is finally leaving the sport.
Michael Schumacher, I applaud you.