Schumacher’s not going anywhere!

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With rumors still swirling of his departure from F1 at the end of this season, 7-time champion Michael Schumacher has told the press that this isn’t the case and it takes time to build a team. This is according to AUTOSPORT on-site in Singapore for this weekend’s grand prix.

“You cannot get rid of me, let’s put it this way,” said the German, “Our goal is naturally to win the championship, better earlier than later,” he added. “But it is a process and we are not magic, so we trying to maximise our opportunity in deciding early to prepare for 2011.

“The process has started naturally whereas the teams that are contending for the championship have to keep doing a programme, we hope that will give us a slight advantage for restarting in 2011.”

Whether you are a Schumacher fan or not, I’ve made some statements over the year about the patience it will take in his process. Those arguments have been refuted with the bullet-proof rebuttal of “yeah, he’s a 7-time champ and known for doing a lot in an inferior car and you’re telling me he can’t handle this Mercedes? Face it, he’s washed up and Rosberg is kicking his arse!”. That’s all well and good and I appreciate that sentiment but pardon my lack of belief.

Schumacher makes a good case about the patience needed at Benetton and Ferrari:

“Naturally if we knew exactly all the situation we would simply stop and change it. It is a process. And if you think in my first activity with Benetton it took me about four years to build up and finally win a championship, in Ferrari it took me five years and I hope we are much more efficient here”.

There is some credence to the fact that as a seasoned professional, he should not take as long as he took at Benetton to get back on pace and that his craft was honed at Ferrari due to all the dominance but as a Ferrari fan, I recall the drought years from 1996-2000. It took some time and one could argue that he should have hit the ground running because he already learned how to develop a car and team in the Benetton days. I don’t think it’s that simple. Renault and Fernando Alonso could attest to that.

I think the Mercedes GP and Schumacher issues will take time to solve. It is a whole team and the car has to develop with the driver. Schumacher’s teammate, Nico Rosberg, is beating him in that same car and while I agree to this obvious fact, Rosberg isn’t winning grands prix either. This tells us the car is not there yet. What about the ability to do more with a lesser car? I think Schumacher still possesses that skill but it is up for argument as Rosberg is doing better in the same recalcitrant car.

Patience will win the day for Mercedes GP but to be honest, will it be winning the day with Rosberg or Schumacher? That’s the bigger question. If Schumacher isn’t as quick as the younger drivers, that will be something he has to reckon with. If I am team boss Ross Brawn, I am pleased to have a 7-time champion helping the team develop a car for Nico Rosberg to challenge for the title with. It is a win-win instead of a “get rid of that old guy” mentality and I think it works well. In the end, I’ll right Schumacher off when Schumacher writes himself off and not before…you never know.

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