Schumacher’s ‘Huge Error’

The continuing speculation regarding 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher’s return o the sport has made news once again. It seems that former boss Eddie Jordan has weighed in on what has become a fan-favorite sport of taking shots at the veteran German driver.

“Michael Schumacher’s return was an excellent thing for the discipline, but for him personally, it’s a huge error,” Jordan told Sport Bild.

“To make a comeback at 41 years of age, to pitch yourself against young men 20 years younger than you, is simply against the laws of physics and medicine.”

Jordan added that Schumacher had “nothing to gain. Except for maybe feeling good, but even that, that’s not the case. Do you think that it would please him to be beaten by (Mercedes team-mate) Nico Rosberg?”

Yes, apparently the lack of pace, poor results and being bested by his younger teammate, Nico Rosberg, has signaled the illogical, unfounded and errant thinking of Schumacher’s return. It seems that while Mercedes GP has continually suggested that Schumacher’s return will take time to materialize, F1 pundits in the press have finally found their moment to heap scorn on the man they so loathed for all those years.

What better way to show that Schumacher was an illegitimate champion and suspect character than to skewer his return because he is not on pace with much younger drivers? Wait…is the criticism really that unfounded and dripping with retribution?

The lack of pace is certainly a concern that many can place a leveled, square argument to as Schumacher has always bested his teammates and seemed to adjust, adapt and overcome some of the most difficult cars in his racing history. Why is this Mercedes so out of reach for him?

The inability to show progress is equally tied to the criticism as many were against him from the outset but others were willing to suspend critique until mid-season knowing the challenges he was facing. Well, it’s mid-season and while Schumacher has progressed a little, he is still very much behind the eight-ball and his teammate Rosberg.

Focus on 2011 has been suggested as the reason Schumacher has ceased to progress or find new pace this year. Many have offered the proposition that the elder German has switched his focus on 2011 to craft a team and car specifically designed to exploit his talents as was so prevalent during his reign at Ferrari. That could be but detractors has suggested this isn’t fair for Rosberg as he is having a modicum of success in the 2010 car and should not be forced to ride the balance of the year out in a stagnant car.

This week, Mercedes GP chief Nick Fry has again issued some thoughts regarding Schumacher in defense of the current crop of criticism telling AUTOSPORT:

“I think Michael has just to plug away at it,” Fry told AUTOSPORT. “It is not coming together clearly. We have fits and starts and last weekend had some good points – like the second part of qualifying – but then the final part of qualifying was a bit disappointing.

“During the race there were points where we thought we could put in a better result here, but it didn’t quite work out at the end.

“Clearly everyone expects the best of Michael Schumacher because he is seven-time world champion, but on the other hand you’ve got to say he is still a top ten driver which, on a global scale, is pretty impressive.

“He is still learning and we have still got confidence in him and he has confidence in himself. So I am quite optimistic.”

It must be said that while supportive, these words form a different vibe as the ones in the past. This is almost conciliatory in nature and are more open-ended about Schumacher’s hanging in there.

Fry was fiercely defensive in the past but now seems resigned to the fact that it is indeed a struggle and Schumacher merely finish int eh top ten and that, by Fry’s reckoning, is a real victory. That, you must admit, is a bit of a departure from his previous notions that Schumacher would be fighting at the top this year and we are behind him talk.

Either way you cut it, Schumacher’s return has been less than anyone, including Schumacher, would have wanted–except maybe Rosberg and his father. The result is apparent in the teams lowering of their expectations. There are ample rumors of possible replacements and in the end, Schumacher himself must know if he is capable or not. The question remains, will he “plug away at it” as Fry suggests or will he throw in the towel and concede Jordan’s point?

Are mercedes GP comfortable with a driver just shooting for top ten finishes or will they seek another alternative? Time will tell but as with most everyone else in involved in the F1 world, we all have our opinions. What is yours? Perhaps the most important opinion is Schumacher’s and with the common measurement vehicles used in F1 to determine a drivers future going against him, it is surely time for the German to be candid about what he is hoping for and what the team are focused on.

For my opinion? I think he has the talent and tools to get the job done but the car and team need to be working to his exact needs and style. The team must be focused but perhaps most importantly, Schumacher needs a car that suits his driving style. Current regulations may never allow for that and if that is the case, then Schumacher should pack it up. If the car can be designed to his style, then I believe he should stay. As for Bernie Ecclestone’s opinion?

“If Schumacher doesn’t perform I doubt whether he will want to stay,” said Ecclestone, adding that “he is obviously fit, motivated and talented but the car hasn’t been up to him.”

Although you have to know Ecclestone would miss the marketing juggernaut that is Schumacher should he leave the sport again.

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