Michael Schumacher: Defending the indefensible

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untitled2.bmpAfter re-writing history in a sport as old as Formula 1; Michael Schumacher has become the eye of adulation and derision the world over.  The media are quick to castigate the 7-time world champ for any move construed to be below a multiple champion.  Any mistake is trumped as justification for disliking him since Jerez ’97.  Any dominance is met with consternation and gnashing of teeth as the worry of decreasing viewership is ultimately considered.

In a sport that is arguably one of the most difficult to win; Ferrari and Michael Schumacher have obliterated all comers and all critics.  Yet in this world of relativism; no one likes a dominant team/driver.  Sure, they like a winner but winning should be spread around to accommodate everyone’s hero; not just one superlative person in a Nomex suit or one brand of carbon fiber rocket.

Michael has become indefensible in his position as “arguably” the greatest driver in modern Formula 1 history.  Today’s Turkish Grand Prix proves once again that Michael is not beyond scrutiny for being an aggressive champion as well as losing four seconds by running wide at Turn 8.  In short, his detractors proffer the notion that he is human and makes mistakes, cheats and lies.  His “poor” performance in Hungary is testament to his waning skills and indicative of his manipulation of the sport since 1994.  They go as far as to describe a terse drivers meeting regarding Hungary in which you would have envisioned Michael being ran out of the meeting clinging to his life.  While in the same breath they are outraged at his mistake during a race costing Ferrari a win.  This is not the driving skill of a 7-time world champ—they claim. 

Is he human or not?  I winced as critics waxed poetic of behavior unbecoming a champion as Michael went wide at Turn 8 trying to catch up to Fernando.  It seems to this writer, I use that term lightly, that there is really no defense for Michael Schumacher.  He makes a mistake and it is not living up to his 7-time world champ capabilities or he is “losing it”.  If he dominates the race or championship, well then he is clearly too aggressive, a cheater, liar and manipulator of the sport.  One may argue nuance to his antics or style but either you recognize the sheer brilliance of a man who has re-written the sport or you don’t.  We could weave stacks of paper discussing nuances, advantages, questionable maneuvers or regulations and superior cars.  These are all defeater beliefs.  Reasons to proffer the vitriol many have for this singular person.

In short, he is human.  As a human he makes mistakes and carries the same emotions we all do.  He has made split decisions that could be second guessed.  He has said things that could be considered over the line or arrogant.  He has failed more visibly and publicly than any of us could dare imagine.  I recall Jerez ’97, Monaco ’06, Spa ’98 and even Adelaide ’94.  In between all of those events; I also recall sheer genius at work.  Total commitment and a true leader who leads through servitude.  A model of efficiency and, oh yeah, SEVEN world titles.  That’s the enigma I have watched since the first race in a Jordan.  That is the human I have grown to respect above all other drivers in the history of Formula 1 if for any other reason than it is a rare occasion that we should be witness to such performance, such brilliance wrapped in a enormously charitable person. 

 

 

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