Buried deep in the Formula 1 official site’s transcript of today’s press conference with drivers, one of the journalists gets around to asking this:
Michael, with your experience, if you were having a bet where would your money go on the championship, among the five contenders now?
MS: If you want to lose money, you bet on one of those guys because none can be right and can be correct. If you look at this year, I think it has been a very exceptional year: for the reason to have so many drivers still in the championship and for the fact that there have been so many up and down happenings, retirements and so on, that I donâ€™t think you could have expected, so I wouldnâ€™t bet any money on anybody. I cross fingers for one that Iâ€™m good friends with, but thatâ€™s about it.
Drum roll, please. And who is that “one that I’m good friends with”?
MS: Iâ€™m good friends with Sebastian (Vettel), so my fingers are crossed for him.
Quick, fire up the “Michael and Ross’ three-year plan for Mercedes is to get Michael a winning car that then, in year four, can be turned over to Vettel” rumor.
Speaking of that plan, Michael was asked about it, as well:
Itâ€™s a question for Michael. Before, you talked about a longer period project for Mercedes and you mentioned Benetton and Ferrari. In those days, you were in your mid-twenties and then in your mid-thirties. Now you are a little bit older. Is there any risk that time will run out before you find the target and is there any risk that you can work and somebody else can reap the fruits of your work, like Nico (Rosberg) for example?
MS: Thatâ€™s why, right from the beginning, we talked about a three-year situation. I hope that within this time I can collect the fruits of it. Certainly we are on the right path. If I see modifications and mistakes and the learning curve â€“ all what has been done to improve next year makes me very confident and comfortable and again, the target is to reduce what used to take four to five years to reduce it in time, so that I take the benefit from it.
[Media critic note: It’s never good when your question is as long, or longer, than the answer.]
That answer, actually, probably satisfies my lingering… shall we say interest in Schumacher’s comeback. I can accept that it would take him some time to get back, I can accept the car doesn’t fit his style and I know he took some time to gel everything at Ferrari (along with a lot of other people working on that, of course). I still would have liked to see him a little closer to Nico Rosberg, though.