Heading into the European Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher has hit back at the chorus of critics who lambasted his performance in Canada, and he says getting used to the slick tires has been his main trouble.
Among the most vocal critics were David Coulthard, Martin Brundle and Eddie Irvine.
Autosport has the quotes. Here you go:
“I don’t take them seriously because there are different elements to Formula 1, and one part is show business.
“So I cannot take it seriously as a realistic criticism, so I put it down to show business, and to moan about me sometimes creates some attention – which maybe is to be purposely achieved.
“I’d rather not have it, or have to hear about it or have to answer your question, but that’s what it comes down to for me.”
I think Michael’s about half right. Yes, he makes for good press and lots of attention. But at the same time, his Canada drive was pretty bad as F1 drives go. And the guys who called him out do have pretty strong credibility (as opposed to, say, me!).
That said, Schumacher admits he hasn’t set the world back on fire this year:
“Yes, you make mistakes and you could have improved certain things, with hindsight. But all in all, I don’t think there are many guys around the world who, at 41, come back after a three-year break and compete at this high a level.
“I’ve not lost my knowledge of driving. I know what I’m doing, and I think I do it to the best I can. When I won 91 grands prix and seven championships, I was thinking then about how I can improve, as I’m doing now.”
So what’s the problem? Michael says it is the slick tires:
“The main issue is to get on top of this tyre situation and to understand them,” he said. “For whatever reason we’ve not been able to do it in qualifying and it is something we’re trying to understand to make sure we can be at our maximum in terms of performance.
“It is certainly the case they are different from what I am used to in my experience. But everybody else seems to be suffering. I hear all the way down the pit lane people are having problems, about what to do in certain moments.
“So that’s been the biggest surprise for us, and we particularly suffered in this area in Canada. It’s been the biggest issue for us this year.”
It sounds like Schumacher is being unusually responsive here. I think that’s the way to handle this, rather than totally blowing the criticism off. It isn’t going to go away if he ignores it. Best to answer straight on, give some reasonable reasons — he probably doesn’t want to say, “Yeah, I’m kinda bad now, aren’t I?” — and move on.
Finishing on the podium would do a lot to shut folks up, too.