Haug hints at, hopes for Schumacher extension

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In a world where sports stars are peaking at ever-younger ages in almost every discipline, including F1 (Senna, Schumacher, Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel all were youngest-ever champions), could Michael Schumacher buck that trend deep into his forties? A man in the know thinks maybe.

Husky Norbert Haug cuts a (relatively) quiet figure in the English-language press, but over here in Germany he’s Mercedes GP’s Ross Brawn – the team’s voice of officialdom.

He spoke with the Auto Bild Motorsport magazine this week, an article that does not appear to be on the publication’s website – but there’s an excellent German-language write-up in full here, courtesy of the guys at motorsport-total.com

The meatiest of all the morsels pertain to Schumi’s three-year Mercedes GP deal, set to expire at the end of the season. Auto Bild asks Haug if he will extend the deal… (My translations, some of which don’t do Haug’s concise eloquence justice.)

That’s not something we can comment on yet. But I think that Michael no longer wants to switch to another team.

—-Meaning?…—-

That it’s now about either Mercedes, or the end. Should Michael sense that things are moving forward, then I think that he still has a great desire to carry on.

Haug actually uses the German “Lust,” a more broadly used term than in its English form but with connotations that are obvious – and I think fitting.

While nobody wins seven F1 titles without at least a mild passion for driving, Michael Schumacher just seems elated to be in F1 right now. Ever since his 2010 return, I’d say. So happy to be back in the fold, still on pace, and mixing it with drivers half his 43 years of age. It bears repeating that F1’s latest youngest-ever champ Sebastian Vettel had not yet turned four when Schumi debuted in that beautiful Jordan at Spa in 1991. (Free Gachot.)

Haug also notes Schumacher’s imposing physical fitness saying he trains like mad and calling him “an absolutely full-blooded athlete.” So no problems there either.

But back to Michael’s newfound (or, at least in my eyes, redoubled) “lust” for F1 life. Nico Rosberg, who says he could “very well imagine” Schumi staying, also perceives it in his teammate.

I’d say it would be brilliant if he stays. He’s driving at an extremely high level at the moment. And so long as the fun-factor is there…

His enjoyment of motorsport is very great, and the icing on the cake would be success. But this year we hit the road for every single race with the feeling that we can get pole position and win. That by itself boosts the fun-factor.

The all-Mercedes love-fest continues with Nico saying his decision to extend through 2015 was “spot on” (literally, “gold correct”) and asking why on earth he wouldn’t consider “a lifetime in silver.”

I am in a super position to help out in leading this team towards a world championship. There’s been a huge and appreciable push forwards. Ross Brawn’s no beginner. He’s managed it before and will crack it again.

Right back atcha, Nico, darling…

Ok, I exaggerate. Here’s husky Norbert’s real response, beginning to allude to the impressive “back-story” he, Nico, poppa Keke and Mercedes have:

I see no reason why Nico shouldn’t stay such a long time. I have known Keke as a friend for a long time and have therefore also followed Nico’s career. Any Hollywood director would probably encounter some serious credibility concerns if he submitted such a crazy script to be filmed.

Why, you ask? Well after F1 and then a brief hiatus in management, Keke went to DTM in Germany in 1992 – winning a race on his third outing against all the odds aged 44 (ringing any bells here?) for Mercedes team boss, Norbert Haug.

Even Nico remembers:

That went through my head when we were stood together at the DTM curtainraiser in Hockenheim this past Saturday: Norbert, Dad and I. In 1992 I was in the Mercedes DTM pit, my dad’s car next to me, Norbert next to it. 20 years later I win for Mercedes in the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix. That’s pretty cool.

One thing I would categorically say about the current and perhaps medium-long-term Mercedes GP lineup is that all of them – even the curiously but perhaps necessarily absent voice of Michael – have the PR game down to the finest of arts.

And speaking of that absent voice – I wouldn’t be surprised at all to hear much, much more from him. Schumacher already holds the record for longest period of time between first and last F1 races. It hit the two-decade mark on August 25 last year, we may be counting in 2013 and beyond.

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