And then it hit me.
Michael has never raced at the Valencia track. And he was already like a pinball at Canada, a track that he dominated more completely than any other during his career.
So just how will he do on a track that’s 100% unfamiliar to him?
Well, we can let Michael answer that first:
“Valencia is a track which I have never raced on before so it will be another new experience for me but one which I am very much looking forward to. I always have been quite good in adapting quickly to new situations and I strongly expect that to be the case in Valencia. I like going into new experiences like this and having detailed discussions with my engineers about the challenge. We will bring further updates for our car which should help to improve the performance. We have already seen that the car has improved steadily over the last few races and in Canada, the pace was better even if unfortunately that did not show in the results. That’s why I look forward to travelling to Spain a great deal.”
OK, deep exhale.
So Michael’s always “been quite good in adapting quickly to new situations.” Well, maybe in the past. But — not necessarily to start the “should he have comeback” argument — this isn’t the past, and he’s clearly not at the level we remember. Whether that’s due to any drop-off in ability or because of the car or something else, well, it’s difficult for us to do anything but conjecture.
But this certainly adds a bit of flavor to a race weekend that, let’s be honest, has not been the most exciting one since it got added to the calendar.
The question is: Does it make Michael the best choice for “first out?” How well do you think Schumacher will react to this virgin environment?