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Schumacher: The comeback - The sequel? // A positive spin on the return of the seven times world champion

Published by Journeyer

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For the second time this year, rumors are spreading that Michael Schumacher is coming back to race in Formula One. But this time, he wouldn't be racing for Ferrari. Instead, he'd be racing for Mercedes, the company that kickstarted his top-level motor racing career.

And just like last time, the prospect of a Schumacher comeback has fans salivating in anticipation. While some media channels have reported that this will probably happen (therefore hyping it up even more), the truly major sources (Joe Saward, James Allen, and AUTOSPORT) have been either quiet or dismissive of the rumors.

And yet, the fans continue to eat it up. Some ask why no denials have been forthcoming, when in fact, Ross Brawn himself had already stated that Michael wasn't interested in a full-time comeback (not at the time of the interview, anyway). There have been all sorts of statements explaining why Michael is more likely than not to come back - no smoke without fire, no denials from Norbert Haug or Nick Fry, Michael hasn't officially signed his Ferrari contract yet - just to name a few.

No-one on the current grid seems to have succeeded Schumacher in capturing the casual fans' imagination

Before I go to my personal opinion on how this will end up, let me share with you this observation: it seems to me that Formula One does not yet have its next superstar. Yes, we have Lewis Hamilton on the grid. Yes, Fernando Alonso is about to drive a Ferrari next season. Yet no-one on the current grid seems to have succeeded Schumacher in capturing the casual fans' imagination and getting them hooked on the sport (again). It may be good for the sport that the grid as it was in the 3 post-Schumacher years was closer than ever - and thus the racing was good (for the most part, anyway). But many casual fans didn't follow as closely because their number one driver - the driver who may have created the two most boring seasons ever in 2002 and 2004 - wasn't driving anymore.

All this leads me to think that these people who are tweeting about a Schumacher comeback may be doing so out of hope rather than expectation. Personally, I don't think it will happen due to a number of reasons.

First, there is his neck. This was the biggest reason why his summer fling with Ferrari didn't push through. Before any comeback happens this time, Schumacher's doctors will have to check his neck and give him the fitness seal of approval. But even if his neck does fully heal, will it ever be as strong as it was during his peak? Also, given that we're now in the middle of December, will Michael have enough time to get back to the levels of full racing fitness he was at in 2006?

Second, there is his long-term motivation. I say long-term because while he may want to drive again, he doesn't necessarily want to do it for an entire season. Being interviewed at the Race of Champions in Beijing just last month, one of the reasons he was willing to substitute for the injured Felipe Massa was that it was a "part-time" thing. A Mercedes race seat for an entire season at least would definitely be a full-time deal. Even James Allen, who wrote the Schumi biography "The Edge of Greatness", has mentioned in his blog that he doesn't feel Michael really wants to go back to that level of work. And this is Michael Schumacher we're talking about - if he can't give 110% commitment to it, it's not worth doing.

Third, there is Ferrari - specifically, Luca di Montezemolo himself. LDM would probably be less than keen on letting Michael go off - to a competitor, no less. Allen has also mentioned in his blog that Ferrari would want Michael to be promoting their roadcars, rather than Mercedes roadcars (and that new SLS Gullwing set to go on sale). I would add to this that whoever Schumacher races for last will probably end up having his services (and endorsement) for the rest of his life - and if Ferrari lose him, that would be a huge blow to them. If it is true that there is currently no signed contract between Schumacher and Ferrari, there is probably nothing LDM can really do to stop Michael from leaving. However, Schumacher is also separately under contract to Ferrari fuel partner Shell. With Mercedes running on Mobil 1 products, Schumi would have to get out of his Shell contract as well for him to make the move.

Fourth, there is the competition. Many fans wonder how Schumacher would fare if he raced head-to-head against Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel. But even if Michael comes back, how fair a comparison would it be? Even if Michael fares well in his comeback, it would be hard for us to say that he's just peaking right now. In comparison, Hamilton, Vettel, and Alonso (who beat Schumacher in 2006) will all have gotten better in the last three years. As Nick pointed out in the comments, if Schumacher couldn't beat Alonso to the title in 2006, what chance does he have now?

Michael may have been retired a while, but I wouldn't put him in the same pay bracket as Jenson

Is the money on offer a factor? Perhaps, perhaps not. It depends on how badly Schumacher wants to race again. That said, the speculation is that Michael will get the same base salary offer that Jenson Button got. Michael may have been retired a while, but I wouldn't put him in the same pay bracket as Jenson, if only because of his marketing value (which is a lot, to say the least). One wonders if Michael would feel the same way.

For those reasons, I don't think Michael Schumacher will race for Mercedes GP in 2010, or in Formula One anytime in the future, for that matter. But the other question is, do I want to see him come back and race again?

As a Schumacher fan, I would have to say... no. It's probably not the response you'd expect from a typical Schumi fan, but let me explain why. For me, he has nothing else to prove. Why go back and take the risk of being beaten week in and week out by a Nico Rosberg, never mind a Lewis Hamilton? Also, Michael went out on a high - remember that awesome recovery drive in Brazil, pulling off a gutsy pass on Kimi Räikkönen in the process? Overtaking the guy who was about to replace him - in that fashion - was memorable on many levels, and it was the perfect way to sign off on what had been a brilliant F1 career.

Michael's already achieved the whole lot, so any Schumacher comeback would only have one aim: to win the Championship for an 8th time. Can he pull it off? As much as I'd want him to, my heart of hearts tells me that he is still human, and that magic touch with the steering wheel will fade with age. Does Michael believe otherwise? Only Michael would know the answer to that question. Would I support Schumacher if he raced again? Absolutely. But would it be the correct decision for Michael to race again? On balance, I would say no.

So if I don't think he'll race for Mercedes, what's next for Michael Schumacher? There's plenty of possibilities. He could stay with Ferrari as their ambassador. He could still move to Mercedes in a consultant role and become Ross' confidant and advisor, as well as their ambassador. But I think his next office will not be in Maranello or in Brackley - it will be in Paris, either as a Formula One Ambassador, or more probably, as the new Formula One Commissioner. Everyone seems to have forgotten that Jean Todt has an open offer to Michael to work with him in the FIA - and I think he will take it.

Fearless forecast? Absolutely. Correct forecast? That remains to be seen.




  • journeyer, you are my favourite schumacher fan.

    rated 5 out 5. a great article, sir.

  • journeyer, you are my favourite schumacher fan.

    you're not just saying that because i don't want him to come back? :P

    rated 5 out 5. a great article, sir.

    thank you, Mr C. a great honor for that to come from you. :)

  • you're not just saying that because i don't want him to come back? :P

    nope. i really don't mind if schumi comes back in a silver car, with alonso in a red car. this summer, the idea that alonso would have to sit out of the european gp, while michael settled himself into a ferrari, didn't seem right (to put it mildly). i'd rather he didn't come back, clearly, but this way is preferable to anything else.

    you're my favourite schumi fan because this is the most balanced piece of writing by any fan, i've seen written yet. and it didn't annoy me, whereas most of his fans do :)

  • you're my favourite schumi fan because this is the most balanced piece of writing by any fan, i've seen written yet. and it didn't annoy me, whereas most of his fans do :)

    awww. not you're just making me blush. :P :D

  • nope. i really don't mind if schumi comes back in a silver car, with alonso in a red car. this summer, the idea that alonso would have to sit out of the european gp, while michael settled himself into a ferrari, didn't seem right (to put it mildly). i'd rather he didn't come back, clearly, but this way is preferable to anything else.

    If Michael does come back in a Mercedes, I would find the Ferrari-Mercedes rivalry (Ferrari circa 2010 vs Ferrari circa 2000) much more intriguing and compelling to watch than the Ferrari-McLaren rivalry (with its predictable Britain vs Germany storyline).

  • If Michael does come back in a Mercedes, I would find the Ferrari-Mercedes rivalry (Ferrari circa 2010 vs Ferrari circa 2000) much more intriguing and compelling to watch than the Ferrari-McLaren rivalry (with its predictable Britain vs Germany storyline).

    McLaren-Mercedes rivalry, rather. ;)

  • Stand up and take a bow, Journeyer, for that article was truly 5 Pints of Awesome!

  • Stand up and take a bow, Journeyer, for that article was truly 5 Pints of Awesome!

    *takes a bow*

    Thank you for the kind words, Gavin. :)

  • afternoon sipodpeople.

    did you enjoyed the party yesterday?

  • afternoon sipodpeople.

    did you enjoyed the party yesterday?

    wrong post :P

  • BTW, excellent post journeyer!

  • BTW, excellent post journeyer!

    Gracias, Senor Guille. :D

  • well, Autosport published something today - www.autosport.com…port.php/id/80554

  • well, Autosport published something today - http://www.aut...s/report.php/id/80554

    Indeed. Acknowledging the speculation, but not much more than that.

  • ... and so did james Allen :-)

    www.jamesallenonf…-moment-of-truth/

  • ... And on that side, there are some details here which don’t quite add up. Ferrari recently agreed a three year deal with Schumacher, although this has yet to be signed, we are told. But I know for a fact that there are separate contracts in place with Ferrari sponsors, which would clash with a Mercedes deal. As late as the end of last week those sponsors had not been approached about releasing Schumacher from his obligations.

    This is perhaps the purpose and timing of the Bild story, to present a fait accompli to Schumacher’s existing employers. It’s the ‘moment of truth’ and it looks like both Schumacher and Mercedes are up for it. So now it’s a question of whether his employers are up for letting him go quietly.

    excerpt from James Allen's post, in line with your article :-)

  • well, Autosport published something today - http://www.aut...s/report.php/id/80554

    That article is a bit GMM for me...

  • excerpt from James Allen's post, in line with your article :-)

    Perfect. :D I said it before he did! ;)

  • excerpt from James Allen's post, in line with your article :-)

    Perfect. :D I said it before he did! ;)

    legend :)

  • That article is a bit GMM for me...

    That article is a bit GMM for me...

    that will be that reference to Bild :-) . here is how Allen explains that:

    There are two possible sources of this story – for as long as I can remember Bild has been Willi Weber’s favourite method of leaking stories. Weber is Schumacher’s manager. But Mercedes’ boss Norbert Haug has also been known to let things out through that route.

    I do hope that this all will end soon by someone other than Schumi getting the driver ...

  • CNN World Sport reported on the story and said that confirmation of the deal would be given this coming week.

    So in the next 5 days there should be a definite answer.

  • Well-written, Journeyer and I agree with you to some extent - if he leaves Ferrari it will be for 2010 and will be to go to the FIA. I think that's likely but equally I think it is quite likely he'll remain with Ferrari as a brand ambassador for years to come. These seem to be the only two options.

    The third option is retirement and I don't think he's the sort to retire.

  • Could not agree more Journeyer. It would be a daft decision to come back full time, a special guest appearance here and there would be okay. but then you'd have to ask why? I just hope it isnt heidgfeld who gets the gig. he needs to go to DTM or something. Something about him irks me. He is a rubbish driver who gets lucky.

  • and that was the sound of rich having a heart attack

  • and that was the sound of rich having a heart attack

    :D

  • What sound was that?

  • What sound was that?

    No idea! But Rich is a Heidfeld fan. ;)

  • Adie's also written about the comeback rumors here: f1tailpipe.com/20…es-it-make-sense/

    And we seem to have come to the same conclusion...

  • Poor Rich then. He needs to face the truth someday. If all F1 fans and people "in the know" are asking why would the schu comeback, then surely he needs to question this himself. If he does rejoin, (which we doubt) i really hope he can give us all a logical reason for his return. personally i never liked him, but its hard to doubt his talent, and man management skills.

  • Just thinking of reasons why either the Mercedes or Schumacher camp wont dipell the rumours. For Mercedes, (a new team) the press covereage is huge and great for them in attracting sponsors. Anyway you look at it, their name is now entrenched in potential backers minds. For Schumacher, after reading the James Allen article, it is clearly a bargaining chip for his extension contract at Ferrari. The truth behind Michaels motivation will be revealed in due course

  • Just thinking of reasons why either the Mercedes or Schumacher camp wont dipell the rumours. For Mercedes, (a new team) the press covereage is huge and great for them in attracting sponsors. Anyway you look at it, their name is now entrenched in potential backers minds. For Schumacher, after reading the James Allen article, it is clearly a bargaining chip for his extension contract at Ferrari. The truth behind Michaels motivation will be revealed in due course

    I hope you are correct. My only concern with that line of thinking is that we thought the same way during the Button-to-McLaren move - we all thought it was a piece of theatre to help their respective positions. As it turned out, it was a lot more serious than we thought.

  • I always suspected the button move. Even before i'd heard. Dont ask me why, it was just a gut feeling. it seemed like a good fit. Now that its happened, it doesnt seem that good a fit.

    one of the great battles next year i think.

  • I am in Germany this week, and the news on here is suggesting that he is on the way to Mercedes, and there is no doubt about it! As you can imagine this is making the front pages of the papers and all the radio news.

    On a non f1 note it has been snowing here and is the most Christmassy place I have ever been!

  • Journeyer,

    Great article. I agree Michael has more to lose than gain by returning, so why bother? It would also be an indictment of the sport if we need ex-champions to come back to liven up the show - F1 should be able to move onward and upward without the need to re-live past glories. But then, we are seeing the return of Lotus .... inevitably these returns to the past are a bit like the re-invention of the Beetle and the Mini - not quite as good as we remember them.

    Oh, one small point, I hate the phrasing "Why go back and take the risk of being beaten week in and week out by a Nico Rosberg, never mind a Lewis Hamilton?"

    It's used a lot in sports writing/commentary and it annoys me no end. There is only one Nico Rosbeg and only one Lewis Hamilton.

  • It's used a lot in sports writing/commentary and it annoys me no end. There is only one Nico Rosbeg and only one Lewis Hamilton.

    I think it's used to denote "someone like" rather than the specific individual.

  • On a different note; if Mercedes can't get Schumi, what are the odds that rather than Heidfeld to take the seat, they employ their DTM driver, Gary Paffet or Di Resta? They appear to have a good track record and both currently work for Mercedes.

  • On a different note; if Mercedes can't get Schumi, what are the odds that rather than Heidfeld to take the seat, they employ their DTM driver, Gary Paffet or Di Resta? They appear to have a good track record and both currently work for Mercedes.

    di Resta is already Force India's third isn't he? Paffett I'm not sure, but a safer bet would be Heidfeld I reckon.

  • On a different note; if Mercedes can't get Schumi, what are the odds that rather than Heidfeld to take the seat, they employ their DTM driver, Gary Paffet or Di Resta? They appear to have a good track record and both currently work for Mercedes.

    Motor Sport in their latest podcast are convinced Ant Davidson will get the drive. If they had any sense they would put di Resta in the car but I am not confident they have

  • di Resta is already Force India's third isn't he?

    Nothing has been announced officially yet. I assume he is tryig to get a race seat and if that doesn't happen then he becomes the FIF1 test driver

  • Nothing has been announced officially yet. I assume he is tryig to get a race seat and if that doesn't happen then he becomes the FIF1 test driver

    I've been making up stuff again haven't I ;)?

  • I've been making up stuff again haven't I ;)?

    There has been so much news that some of it becomes blurred

  • As it's relevant, I'm reposting this from the Daily:

    More news on Schumi from JA's blog: JA is starting to think it's going to happen. Schumi didn't attend the yearly Ferrari Christmas Lunch (which was today, if I'm not mistaken), while LDM spoke of Kimi, Felipe, and Fernando, but not Schumi.

    I have a bad feeling about this - the "ending in tears" type.

  • and that was the sound of rich having a heart attack

    I have resigned myself that Nick might not get the Merc drive. He has turned down other firm offers in the hope of getting it.

    Mercedes hiring MS as a driver makes sense only in so far as he being a good development driver.

    If MS does get the Merc drive I actually feel more sorry for Nico as he will be treated as the second driver and this could end his career. MS does not share his setup information with his team mate so he could actually get the better of Nico through experience rather than driving ability.

    I honestly think all the other drivers suggested in the comments have no chance - it will be either MS, Nick or Robert (assuming he is a free agent). The team need an experienced driver to stand any chance of keeping their constructor's title. What ever is said Nick is the driver who has overtaken Alonso for race position more than any other driver - he is way better than say Mark Webber when they were team mates - he is not that bad and as I have often said over the last three years he is the fifth highest scoring driver. Points win championships.

  • I honestly think all the other drivers suggested in the comments have no chance - it will be either MS, Nick or Robert (assuming he is a free agent). The team need an experienced driver to stand any chance of keeping their constructor's title. What ever is said Nick is the driver who has overtaken Alonso for race position more than any other driver - he is way better than say Mark Webber when they were team mates - he is not that bad and as I have often said over the last three years he is the fifth highest scoring driver. Points win championships.

    Points are no good for the championship if you're not winning, sadly.

    That said, Nick has good shots at seats at Renault and Sauber. But ultimately, I guess Nick is at a point in his career where he has to go all-in to get a front-running drive, otherwise, there's no point driving round in circles in the midfield.

  • Points are no good for the championship if you're not winning, sadly.

    uh? this is not quite logical - but with the change in points structure winning will become more important. Nick is hardly a midfield player - fifth best scoring out of 20 plus drivers over the last three years puts him in the top quarter.

  • uh? this is not quite logical.

    It's true. Just ask Kimi Raikkonen (2003). He was uber-consistent that year, but only won once all season. He lost to Schumi by two points.

    Points will get you through your off-days during a season, but you still need to win.

  • Points will get you through your off-days during a season, but you still need to win.

    but you have to have a car that can win races - sadly BMW Sauber only won one race where Lewis took out Kimi and Massa was having to drive from the back .

  • Nick is hardly a midfield player - fifth best scoring out of 20 plus drivers over the last three years puts him in the top quarter.

    Yes, but has he managed to pull together a title campaign to date? Nope. Even Kubica managed to pull together a title campaign (albeit a long-shot one) once.

  • Anyway, don't wanna get too OT - this is a Schumi thread. :)

  • en.espnf1.com/mer…t/story/5125.html

    Nick Fry admits they're considering him... but he also says that they have alternatives... just in case. And it's that latter clause that makes me wonder...

  • Nick Fry admits they're considering him... but he also says that they have alternatives... just in case. And it's that latter clause that makes me wonder...

    Nick Fry says Schumachr is top of his list. He doesn't say that Schumacher has shown the slightest interest. No-one involved in this whole thing has made a definitive statement. They could all be doing Legard impressions

  • Nick Fry says Schumacher is top of his list. He doesn't say that Schumacher has shown the slightest interest. No-one involved in this whole thing has made a definitive statement. They could all be doing Legard impressions

    Schumi hasn't exactly denied it either, though. He has to be considering it at the very least.

    No one ever says anything definitive until the contract's been signed. And given the amount of due diligence this deal would need, that won't be for a while yet...

  • Nick Fry admits they're considering him... but he also says that they have alternatives... just in case. And it's that latter clause that makes me wonder...

    It is clear that MS is the preferred choice - simply on marketability of the team it makes good sponsorship sense. He is good at set-up and knows how Ross operates. The two unknowns are the situation with his neck and actually whether he is keen to undergo the sacrifices that go with being a super competitive F1 driver. The team know that Nick is desperate so will not accept other offers - so he is a competent fall back solution that won't cost much money. I also think that, if available, Robert would be their second choice - but in terms of driving their is hardly anything to choice between them. Nick will risk not driving next year all the while a Merc drive may be on offer.

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