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Michael Schumacher finally finds his form

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Andrew Benson | 16:44 UK time, Monday, 20 June 2011

In all the excitement following Jenson Button's stunning fightback from last place to victory in the Canadian Grand Prix, one man has been overlooked.

Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher put in by far his most convincing performance since he came out of retirement at the beginning of last year, narrowly missing out on a podium position.

The German legend's race in Montreal was a far cry from some of his lacklustre showings in the last 15 months. Competitively fast and assured in his handling of rivals on the track, he looked like he belonged at the front of a grand prix. And it has been a long time since anyone could confidently say that.

Could this be the beginnings of some consistent form from Schumacher, even a sign that he may yet recover the former greatness that won him a record seven world titles and 91 victories in his first career in Formula 1?

His team principal Ross Brawn, the man who masterminded all of Schumacher's world championships, knows him better than most. He told BBC Sport in an exclusive interview that he had "always had the confidence" Schumacher would make a success of his comeback.

"I wouldn't say (it's) a breakthrough because that's too strong a word," Brawn said, "but there have always been some niggling reasons why Michael's not had the best opportunities to demonstrate what he can do.

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"He's had the odd 'mare of a race, which every racing driver does, but of course when he has one it tends to get focused on.

"But there have been lots of races where his times in the races have been pretty comparable with Nico (Rosberg, his team-mate) but they've not reflected in final results."

Brawn describes Schumacher's drive in Montreal as "some vintage Michael, particularly some of his racecraft and overtaking manoeuvres during the race". And that was indeed one of the most striking aspects of his performance.

At times during his comeback, Schumacher has looked at sea alongside his younger rivals - the most recent example being an embarrassing performance in Turkey.

But in Canada he was fair and robust - positioning his car perfectly in defence, feisty but precise and calculating in attack - and was heavily involved in the sort of strategic decisions with which he and Brawn used to make their rivals look flat-footed.

"If I had to comment," says Brawn, "I think that side of him is better than it used to be because I suppose maybe having to fight your way through or battling in the pack there is more opportunity to demonstrate those skills. But his manoeuvres at the starts of races or the occasions when he demonstrates his race-craft on the track have been quite entertaining this year."

The key call in Canada - in which Schumacher was instrumental - was being the first car to switch to intermediate tyres from full wets after the restart which followed the two-hour race stoppage. That enabled him to be second to championship leader Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull as the field prepared for the final re-start.

A podium would have been a fitting reward, but he lost out to Button and Red Bull's Mark Webber thanks partially to the DRS overtaking device arguably making passing a little too easy in Canada and his second place became a close fourth at the flag. So it is little wonder Schumacher was, as Brawn puts it, "very, very frustrated".

Brawn, though, does not see this as the watershed moment in Schumacher's comeback one might imagine it could be.

"He's a very experienced, confident guy anyway," Brawn says, "so I don't think it will make a dramatic difference to his confidence or his belief in his ability to do it.

"It's a useful boost but I don't think he's a guy who needed something to flip him from one side to another. I don't think he was in a bad position and needed a good result to put him in a good position. He's always been in a pretty good position.

"The main thing is we need to give him a better car. There was a period in the race when the car was probably as good as anyone's and he was the quickest car. If we give him the equipment, he's demonstrated he's as quick as anyone."

Ah, but there's the rub. Has he, really?

In Canada, Schumacher qualified within a hair's breadth of Rosberg and was quicker than him through most the race.

Rosberg, though, had his own problems - his wet tyres were over-pressured, causing him to lose grip, and later on his car sustained significant damage to its floor, costing him key aerodynamic downforce, after he was hit from behind by Adrian Sutil's Force India. So, as Brawn says, "it wasn't an easy race (in which) to compare (the drivers)".

The facts are that Schumacher has generally been out-paced by Rosberg in their 26 races as team-mates. The qualifying record this year stands at six-one in favour of Rosberg, although the two are equal on points so far, which is a big change from last year, when Schumacher was out-scored two to one.

And beyond that there is the question of how good Rosberg is. Has he matured into a world-class F1 driver who can be talked of in the same breath as the sport's current big three - Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Vettel? Or is he - as one paddock wag put it recently - "one of the not-quite-good-enough best drivers in the world"?

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Many questions arise out of this. Is Schumacher doing the job of a man who deserves his place in F1? In Canada, the answer was certainly yes. Does he justify being considered in the top 10? Is he as good as he was? If not, will he ever be?

"That's always the interesting debate," Brawn admits, "because Nico is a reference that's in a little bit of a vacuum because he has not come up against the strongest drivers on a regular basis in the past. But he has matured and improved a lot over the last couple of years, so he's a very strong reference.

"You can play that comparison game any way you like.

"Where is Michael compared to where he was? Is the fact that Nico outqualifies him more often than not a demonstration that Michael is a bit slower than he was or that Nico is an exceptionally quick driver?

"Who knows? I don't have any way of calculating that equation. It's a comparison in a vacuum.

"All I do know is if we get the car better we've got two drivers who can produce the results. It's down to us to improve the car and give them that opportunity."

Mercedes bosses have understandably been reluctant so far to engage in this debate so perhaps the fact Brawn is now willing to give it a go tells you all you need to know about the point Schumacher arrived at in Montreal.

When Schumacher returned to F1 in 2010, Mercedes said he had signed a three-year contract but he has struggled so much at times that there has been constant speculation about whether he will see it out.

If he carries on in the vein of Canada, those doubts will all go away. And Brawn says Mercedes - the team and the wider car company - are happy he is able to perform at the level they require him to be.

"There is no question about that," he says. "Every team wants an unfair advantage, where they can have an average car and the driver takes care of the rest.

"Our car might be even worse than we think and we've got the two fastest drivers in F1. Who knows? We won't know.

"All we know is we're not winning races at the moment and we don't need to change the drivers to fix that, all we need to do is have a faster car."

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    One decent performance does not a comeback make. It's easy to say that Schumacher is only as good as his last race, which reflects well on him, but even so he still didn't manage to make the podium. We should just all admit the great man's career is winding down swiftly. He can't suddenly reverse the clock and be amazingly fast again. He was good in these conditions because they called for canniness and not just balls-out pace. On a totally dry track and with a level playing field he and Merc are nowhere. One could aim the same criticism at Button, actually.

  • Comment number 2.

    another good article Andrew ,lot to chew over there.First I dont buy this "better car thing." If you gave most of the new drivers a better car they would probably go up the front and his team mate has been way more consistent with the same machinery ,the acid test.If he was the rainmeister how come Jenson ate him up . No I think he,s still good but no R Byrne car and the extra years are not suprisingly taking their toll

  • Comment number 3.

    Reverend Frog's quote is incredibly ignorant and just stinks of a lack of knowledge.

    Schumacher was stunning in Montreal. Yes he is not as quick as he used to be. No where near as quick in fact. But his level of performance in Montreal was at a level I haven't seen Rosberg perform at in his time at Mercedes so far. It led me to believe that Schumacher at his best is still better than Rosberg at his best. For sure it takes Michael longer and more effort to find that form but it's still of a higher quality than Nico's in all honesty. For the good of F1 let's hope he continues that form.

  • Comment number 4.

    I thought Schumacher's performance in Montreal was darn fine, better than most in his first career in my opinion. Does it justify his return to F1? I don't know. You can say he's had more than enough time to adjust to the car and the new regulations, but I think his performance in the car is similar to Button in recent times. I mean that if the car is just in it's sweet spot then beware others.

    I wasn't his biggest fan in his first career (but I wasn't anti him), and in Montreal I think he deserved 3rd place at least. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain his form. I hope it does. Heck a couple of wins would prove he can still mix it....that would be great

  • Comment number 5.

    I agree with Mcferrari Schumachers performance is the best by Mercedes so far by any car or driver the way he positioned his car against hamilton early on was classic Schumacher buying himself 3 or 4 secs on LH knowing full well LH was gonna take the bait and either take to the grass or have to take the long wide arc at the hairpin, similar canny moves on Nick Heidfeld and Webber too, think the double Massa / Kobayashi was a bit overrated to be honest that was pure opportunism but MSC was there to make it happen. However having said all that the Merc was still 2 secs a lap slower than the fastest lap by Vettel at the end of the race so I conclude with that the Merc is simply too tyre hungry and too slow to give a definitive has MSC still got it or not debate!

  • Comment number 6.

    @3 Agree Schumacher at his best was almost peerless and yes Rosberg has not maximised his big team opportunity yet. His powers to dominate have left him ,but like an old boxer his nous and ringcraft remain. I agree with R Brawn in that Schumacher does nt seem phased by the ups and downs. He,s tasted retirement and realised its forever and decided to wait till F1 leaves him ,rather than his first end.

  • Comment number 7.

    WOW - Nico is trailing Michael in the current stats for this season but still we have the schumacher bashing.

    I have no doubt that all these people who continually berate Michael are the same groups of people who couldnt stand the guy during his domination of the sport.

    No matter how intelligent or unintelligent you are as a person - nobody is dumb enough to think that anyone can be better as they get older. Its a well known fact that you are in your prime when you are in your 20s-30s. FOr these delusional people who expect Michael to comeback and continue from where he left off or to be at least as good as he was are being totally delusional - Instead this level of expectation is OTT and its just a point for them to get a little 'pay-back'.

    Even though Nico has been trailing Michael in the stats this season...has anyone made any headlines about it?? Have they equally reported this current fact compared to continually reporting when Michael was being beaten by his team mate?
    =NO!

    All the schumacher moaners, whingers and haters need to get a grip and just appreciate that we have such a legend still driving in the sport. TO me hes contributed to F1, achieved his fantastic records and has nothing left to prove to me - If he wants to still drive then sobeit - He has by far earned his right to still be in F1.
    Those who are still bitter at Michael inc our past 'not-so-greats' who resent the guy for beating our past hopefulls need to grow up and stop chewing on sour grapes.

    For a 42 year old guy to still have the fitness and race craft to compete with guys half his age is phenomenal - The haters should hang their heads in shame.

    On another quick note:

    Andrew.....please stop with the delusions on Canada. Dont you realise that without the numerous safetycar deployments everytime jenson fell back, your favourite driver jenson wouldntve even have got into the top 5?

    I really hope that the beeb dont dump the F1 coverage - but part of me will be happy as the 'Button-band wagon' will be confined to the lay-by.

  • Comment number 8.

    I totally agree with Above comments.
    Merc had all the records at his times and there is nothing left to prove for him.
    He is the all time legend and to me the best F1 driver in all condition.

  • Comment number 9.

    Schumacher was unbeatable when he was leading races. When races went against him he often backed off and drove at about 75% (which was still much higher than most of his peers' 100%), and I think we can still see some of that. For some reason (although we all know he likes a drop of rain) he went all-out in Canada, and what a magnigicent drive it was. I had real shivers of excitement watching him slug it out with the likes of Hamilton and Webber. Hopefully he'll sustain whatever motivation he found there and carry it through the rest of the season. Too old? No chance. He's still a lot fitter than drivers half his age, and everybody knows what Mansell (never the leanest of figures) achieved aged 39. I reckon there's still more to come from Schumacher.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Michael Schumacher retired in a completely different era and made his comeback in a very different F1. Yes his displays have not been of great quality over the last 15 months, and Rosberg outscored him by twice as many points. However, the fact is that ,despite Rosberg's superior qualifying this year, Schuey is on level points with him. He was the best driver in Montreal, no mistakes in the race, except when he went over the chicane after Webber passed him. The Mercedes car is not the best, but nor was the Ferrari car back in 1996, and what did Schuey do? He turned Ferrari into world-beaters in 4 years. He has already made progress from last year, who knows what he can do in the next few races? Loads of people dislike Schuey due to his racing ethics, but don't forget that great champions such as Senna and Alonso, crossed the line on a few occasions.

  • Comment number 12.

    cont'd from #10 ...Today's lesson: People are "Blind" to ANY WRONG Doing when it suits them or their hero's reputation (ie Button) is at stake, no matter how WRONG he may have been!

    The ONLY neutral and ACCURATE outside observers of the F1 game are BOOKMAKERS, for the odds on Button winning the Championship are way Higher than that of Lewis'! Theres millions of pounds at stake in the betting industry, so what does that tell the uninformed about Button's ability as a competent well rounded driver in relation to Lewis?

    The win itself is good for Mclaren, but the WAY in which Button won was NOTHING to feel proud of. Lets see if he can prove himself a better man in Valencia??

    I rest my case.

    Best wishes
    K

  • Comment number 13.

    The Canadian race was fought in very changeable conditions and the drivers performances hinged on being on the right tyre at the right time.
    I think the fact Schumacher opted for the intermediate tyre so early flattered his performance and probably masked his inability to compete at the front on pure pace.
    I would imagine, over the course of the season, the trend of Schumacher's performance will even out.

  • Comment number 14.

    Anyone that watches ALL the sessions in detail will know Schumacher is perfectly capable in a F1 car, and comparable to any other driver out there at the moment. As for "he is old his reactions must be crap", well he is not really that old, and when reactions and feel really come into play, i.e. on a changeable wet surface, he proved he was as good as any out there and better than quite a few. The Mercedes car is clearly missing quite a chunk of dry pace compared to the top runners, and midfield results can vary more on luck than skill, luck not only in your own car and circumstances, but luck in avoiding being near Di-resta or Kobayashi :) or any other driver pushing their luck. If Schumacher had returned with a Red Bull style car no one would be questioning the master of F1. But just as all drivers and WCs, you are ultimately limited by your car and luck. If you watch all sessions you will understand that some of the gap with Rosberg isn't quite as large as it can appear. With Schumacher quite often faster that Rosberg for most of the weekend, and also demonstrating faster times in Practice 3 than were managed in qualifying due to mechanical issues or cars in the way. Proving he was perfectly capable of driving to Rosbergs quali pace, but was fudged on the actual lap.

    Last year the whole nonsense over, overtaking Alonso during a "green flagged" remainder of the lap, was not fair either. The race did not finish under safety car(which is important for the rules), as the safety car period ended "during" the last lap(announced on earlier laps), not safety car came in as it was the last lap, important difference and it was that difference that meant it did not carry on under SC/yellow flags to the finish line, it was green flagged for racing making any overtake after the SC line fair game...was ridiculous for him to be denied that. So when the leader crossed the finish line there were no yellow flags or SC period to meet the rule of "if the race finishes under safety car conditions, there will be no overtaking to the finish line and the safety car will come in during the last lap".

    Also Barrichelos squeeze towards the pit wall, looked worse than it actually was, the photo from the end of the straight makes it look dreadful until you realise that they are actually beyond the pit wall at that time, and Schumacher in fact DID allow him enough space and DID only make one move across the track. Far better than what Button DID. Yet nothing for Button.

    So remove some of the unfair rulings and bad luck which is a big factor in midfield running(both mechanical and on track), he has done fine. And proven to still have the overtaking racecraft in both attack and defense, still has the "rainmeister", still has all his knowledge of racing setup and car mechanics with him. It is a case of improve the car as Brawn says and it will come to him. As it does with any driver.

  • Comment number 15.

    @#10/#12

    Strange. I thought this article was about Schumacher. You've obviously some axe to grind with Mr Button.

    Anyhoo. I, for one, would have been very happy to see Schumacher take a podium finish at Canada. I feel though that the Mercedes package just isn't up to the job being neither quick enough or shapely enough in the aero department.

    It would be good for Schumacher to see out his 3 year contract with Merc and then possibly hang up his helmet for good. He's nothing to prove as his records and titles speak for themselves. Maybe the odd win or two in the next year and a half would go some way to finally silencing his critics.

  • Comment number 16.

    @10 if u never look at bbc apart from live racing what u doing posting on this blog is it not against your own idiotic views ? whos Niky Lawder? are u hamiltons agent? did u ever watch itv? thank god for bbc i say.
    shumi deserved a podium in canada ? blah blah u get what u deserve and he got 4th
    for the record i think lewis is quicker than jenson but jensons a better all round driver because he uses his brain, lewis needs to learn to go around cars NOT THROUGH THEM !

  • Comment number 17.

    John, you mean you actually read all that? You're a braver man than I. I stopped at the first mention of Hamilton. Which was pretty much straight away :D

  • Comment number 18.

    I think one fact everyone is ignoring is that Mercedes was the only team to set their cars up with the 'wet setup' in qualifying, in the hope that it would rain. It did rain, and obviously Mercedes would have an advantage, not much, but some advantage which would help the drivers for example, go to intermediates earlier. Overall, we still need to wait to see how competitive Schumacher is, but this has created more questions that need answering in future races. One thing that was impressive was his ability to hang on to Mark Webber towards the end of the race, although Webber and Vettel might as well be driving for different teams given the difference in performance.

  • Comment number 19.

    Schumacher gives us some kind of 'vintage' racing. Isn't it amazing that he still competes with the very best racing drivers. He's 42 years old and pushing like hell. Man, what a guy. He's making history and who are we to criticize his abilities. Didn't he prove enough in the past, just enjoy his racing.

  • Comment number 20.

    When the conditions deteriorated Schumacher showed what he can do, while the rest of the grid struggled to stay in the race. Once Merc figure out and improve the car Schuey will be on podium.

  • Comment number 21.

    @CoolKev #10 #12

    Er...this was an article about Schumacher...

  • Comment number 22.

    Personally, i believe that Schumacher has still got what it takes, but that Mercedes was awful as soon as the track dried out. To drive an F1 car in the rain is obviously harder than in the dry, and the sheer pace of Schumacher in the wet compared to Rosberg, and even the rest of the field, in that particular race was staggering. The only problem for Michael is that the car is clearly not amazing in the dry, as we saw when he was overtaken by Webber, the he could not catch up and use the DRS to counter him. Had DRS not been in use, i firmly believe Michael would have held off Webber, and perhaps Button, to take third.

  • Comment number 23.

    Schumacher did good, that was great to see for us over 40s. And Ross Brawn is up there with Adrian Newey, so I'd pay close attention to every word Ross says.

    It would have been great to see Schumi on the podium. Soon hopefully. And actually, plenty has been said about Schumi's first decent drive since his return. the forum's are full of praise and wonder for the rain master. And rightly.

    Is he better than Rosberg this season? He was in Montreal, whatever the reasons. Overall, I'm still a bit suspect. But Mercedes/Brawn/Schumucaher, what a combo!

  • Comment number 24.

    I am not really a Schuey fan, nor am I the opinion he was the greatest F1 driver ever, but I grant him the honors, that someone with his racing-record, must have been a pretty good driver among the very best. Main reason for me not being a believer, is that his motivation to shine and win, pretty much has no limits... (read ethics)

    In Montreal however, we were served a rain race... and despite rain races always being some sort of lottery, he did a pretty good job guiding his Mercedes on P4. Maybe his drive was of the same quality as Buttons drive was, as both men drove a solid race in distinct machinery (one must remember that McLaren, despite their qualifying performance, is currently one of the pace-setters in F1 for the moment, which is more than you can say from the Merc).

    I agree with Brawn and Benson that comparing race drivers is a pretty difficult occupation in F1... seen they rely on different equipment.

    I think Vettel must be a decent driver, as he tends to deliver qualifying and race results... but so far I have not been able to really judge that objectively... as his Red Bull has been pretty dominant and on top of that he has had his share of luck already (I would have like a dry start in Montreal, or have him fend off Ferrari and McLaren in Monaco without changing tyres). Some say, you can compare to Webber, as he is driving him into the background in the same machinery... yet I think this is also a bit clouded and exaggerated. Webber already generously admitted it took him longer to get into grips with the new Pirellis, but I also noticed that fate struck a lot more in Webber's box lately (seen the number of issues that occurred to his car). Quite frankly, Webber has pretty much delivered seen all the bad luck that happened to him. Not to forget that last year showed that Vettel is still a bit Red Bulls favourite (wing, also this years latest diffuser (which he wrecked), etc...) and starting from the top of the grid, still helps a lot in saving tyres till you can use them in due time somewhere in the race... still a considerable advantage while racing with these Pirelli's, which makes a straight comparison to Webber pretty much impossible.

    As I said McLaren is the second team in this championship, and they seem to have a pretty good line-up. Hamilton seems to be pretty good in raw pace and was first in line to challenge Vettel, but his comments on the team and the fact that they don't seem to have a car that is second to none seems to help him overcook his races. Moreover the fact that he is losing ground to Vettel who he deems to be able to beat in equal machinery and seems to be running away with 2 consecutive titels (something which he will not be able to equal only next year). Button seems far less worried about all this, he has always been supportive to the team, seems to give more feedback on the cars behavior, but then seems to be pretty much balance prone, and lacks a bit of raw speed in most races... except those in the wet where his race intelligence, combined with a little luck, brings him last racing sunday win. I can understand that Martin is going through difficult times avoiding favoritism in this team...

    At Ferrari there seems to be a new breeze flowing through. Alonso did not really shine yet, but managed easily to outperform Massa, except last weekend, where Massa looked pretty competitive (although both race-trims were different ALO intermediate and MAS wet). Hope this is not only referring to the low downforce circuit and they get in grips with their performance on the hard tyres... Hard call whether they will keep Massa, although he is not letting them down as he did last season (also a bit their own doing, when you ask someone to let their teammate through...). But I am not sure if I would pick Massa to have a shot at the drivers championship, as there seems to be more potential available that deliver on a bigger number of circuits. I like the way Alonso pures those seconds out of a Ferrari who has been lacking qualifiying pace most of the time... In my opinion he is a truely great driver... perhaps more Senna like than Hamilton... (I doubt you get more racing/engineering feedback from Hamilton than from Alonso, who seems to be able to motivate and carry a team in the right direction).

    Leaving us with Mercedes, which I think still has to catch up with its racing history. It must have been a bit of a disappointment for Michael Schumacher to come to Mercedes (Brawn GP) a year after they delivered a title winning double diffuser. Moreover statistics show that his team mate Nico Rosberg has proven to be a far bigger competitor than he has been used to. Of course age is catching up on him, but he has not made a too bad a figure and last race was pretty decent in the current Mercedes... Yet I don't see them as title contenders this year, and so they will have to make up ground later on... if they don't want to miss their appointment with history (namely that the "silver arrows" fight for the title again).

    By the way, too bad Kubica is a bit out of the running, as Petrov is having decent runs (looking more after his car and thus collecting more points). I am pretty pleased that some of the Rookies are leaving a good impression (Paul Di Resta, Sergio Perez, Pastor Maldonado...)... feels like we are having a good year, and Kamui is getting more point hauls.

    Roll on next Sunday.

  • Comment number 25.

    Schumi will he be around much longer? more to the point guys are we going to lose probably the best coverage ever from our BBC Will they renew the contract with F1
    any thoughts on a joining me in a co-ordinated protest or at least lets start the ball rolling with these blogs?

    Brundle for director general I say!

  • Comment number 26.

    Me not being the biggest Schumacher fan in the world, I was nonetheless pleased to see/read the generally positive comments about his performance in Montreal. It remains to be seen if this momentum can be maintained, but I think F1 can only benefit in the long run if Schumacher does have a bit of a rennaisance.

    P.S. (un)Coolkev - that is most, most non-triumphant. Of course Button planned to cut Hamilton off all along, because there would have been no risk of him [Button] hitting the pitwall himself, would there?

  • Comment number 27.

    It is a truism that wet races allow drivers of ability to show their mettle, and none more so than the regenmeister.

    Unfortunately, the Mercedes car just isn't a match for Red Bull or McLaren, and the overlong Canadian safety car periods (and the red flag episode) ensured that by the end of the race, the track was to all intents and purposes as if it were dry.

  • Comment number 28.

    Well I love Schumi!!!! Nice to see the old fox showing one thing or 2 when conditions on the track is V.difficult for ALL, But that could also be because I am older and was able to follow his progress from the "real" racing days, when more aggressivity was permited on the track! Talking about aggressivity, I did not think Hamilton done anything wrong. Like any sport it is almost impossible to get back on top when you had a break and in your 40s. But respect should be given to him, his car isn't it yet but for me this was the best race so far this year and it is with no coincidence that he was part of it.

  • Comment number 29.

    Hello Andrew,,

    Thanks for the nice articles all the time,
    About Schumacher, the guy is simply a legend and the best of all times ever, some might say Senna,,but when Senna died Shumi was ahead of him in the championship!!! meaning Shumi was beating him...This is not the issue, People are saying Shumi did this and Shumi did that.. well, people the guy is earning 20 millions a year and he doesn't care about any1 of you... he is 42 and doing this!!!! can't you see that he is a legend,, look at Rubens who is younger than Micheal,, can't u see the difference????

    About the last race,, without the DRS and the KERS systems Micheal could have defended his position for 50 more laps.. but this is what the FIA wanted,, to make it more fun... I believe that that these systems have killed the real fun!!! what can a fast driver do if the cars behind him are 15 to 20 miles faster on the straight???? Nothing!!! and he is only allowed to move his car once!!! He is a sitting duck as Brundel says...
    Button and Hamilton,,, Hamilton won the Chinees GP and started to say I am the only one who can stop Vettel I am the faster driver in the world,, I am I am I am,,, when started to make mistakes he blamed everyone on earth but himself!!!! Shumi blocked him in spain,, the toro rosso helped vettel, the Stewards hated him coz he is black and and and ............,,, Dude YOU ARE MAKING MISTAKES!!!!

    Button won the Canadian GP and the next day we read,, I STILL CAN WIN THE TITLE!!!! Buddy,, just wait till you win another GP then start your day dreaming....
    JB and LH are both amazing drivers everyone knows that but they have to be a bit realistic!!!!!
    In comparison..
    Vettel won 5 out of 7 and 2 second places and when he is asked about the title he says IT IS STILL A LONG WAY TO GO!!!! that is how the champions think!!!

  • Comment number 30.

    Schumacher was never that fast to begin with. Frank Williams always maintained Ralf was the fastest brother.

    If you look back at the 94 season, Nigel Mansell came in for the french GP, he was in his forties at the time, and immediately took pole position for the GP. What does that say about the pace of Hill, or the relative strength of the field?? Schumacher qualified 3rd that day, in an illegal Benetton I might add, and was significantly slower than Mansell. No disrespect to Nigel, but he was mid forties and probably the unhealthiest man ever to sit in a GP car.

    I think Rosberg is right up there in terms of pace. He qualified just 8 tenths behind the Red Bull, and I firmly believe that if he was in the Red Bull he would be ahead of Vettel.

  • Comment number 31.

    Dear #7: The "prime" of life is age 35 to 55... just not for race-car drivers...

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    Schumacher is, like the 'top three' a born racing driver. His natural ability, coupled with his desire to win and beat the rest is still obviously a huge motivation. His drive in Canada was very reminiscent of the Schumey of old, however it's probably more down to the conditions and the way the race played out, than some kind of re-emergence of latent skills, reflexed and awareness behind the wheel.
    I personally don't understand what Schumacher has to prove, so it must be his own personal 'monkey' which sits on his back needing some level of absolution.
    As pointed out in the article, having Nico Rosberg as a team-mate is both a good, and bad thing. As a positive, for Schumacher, having a younger German driver to be a mentor to offers that sense of explanation for Mercedes in having him there. Also with Rosberg being recognised as a good (but not exceptional) driver, Schumacher as the kind of performance barometer he can measure himself against.
    As negatives, Rosberg out-qualifying and beating him on points last season was a little embarrassing for a man who is purported to be the finest living F1 driver. This season has seen Rosberg perform worse, with Schumacher matching him on points... But not really showing any 'form'.
    One decent race is not proof of anything. If Schumacher wants to prove his form, he needs consistent top 6 finishes under 'perfect' driving conditions.

  • Comment number 34.

    The oddest thing about this article has nothing to do with Michael. It is the fact that you refer to F1,s big 3 as Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel.
    Let's see, Alonso has 2 WC but each was gained by him having extraordinary good fortune, as in both cases the opposition were caught with their pants down and produced cars that, for the first (and most crucial) part of the season were just awful. Hamilton has, so far won 1 WC and scraped home by the skin of his teeth. It is the same number as his teammate but was far less convincing. Vettel has 1 WC but looks to have the car to earn him 2. However, as Button clearly demonstrated last Sunday, he has a distinct flaw in his driving in that he can be pressured into mistakes.
    I would say listing those 3 as the top drivers, at this moment, is more than a little premature. From the way several others have produced finishes far higher than their car's capability, it's more than likely several of them, given a Red Bull, Ferrari or Mclaren, could equal any of your, supposed, top 3.
    None of them have produced the kind of results or earned the reputation of a Senna or Stewart,or Fangio, or, of course Michael, and that's just naming a few of the 'Greats'

  • Comment number 35.

    It doesn't take a genius to see that Michael's comeback has been disappointing and almost disheartening. I grew up on Schumacher winning titles, going wheel to wheel with the likes of Damon Hill and Mika Hakkinen as well as his controversial antics during his career.
    However, he still remains my favourite driver and probably will do for the rest of my life. I think Canada and other instances like Korea last year showed that he's still got an edge that could really bring him from the ashes, though I appreciate that there have been other races, more infact, where he's showed a kind of desperation to prove his critics wrong.
    I think it's harsh on both Michael and Nico Rosberg that he is so heavily criticised for being outpaced by his younger team-mate. Rosberg showed at Williams that he was a class act by planting it in places it just shouldn't have been, both in qualifying and the races. At Mercedes, he got a couple of podiums last year and I believe that if people were to consider Robert Kubica to be a potential World Champion, Nico should definitely be observed in the same light.

    Back to Michael, I would just like to say that even if he is not as good as he was, racing has become far more enjoyable since he came back, for those who love him as well as those who choose to criticise him. I would love to see him have the last laugh as well.

  • Comment number 36.

    @john

    I think its completely appropriate to bash Button on any thread. There's never a wrong time to bash Button. In fact bashing Button should be mandatory in order to balance the bias shown by the BBC.

    The facts are Button does not have all the attributes needed to develop into a top class driver and whether you accept this or not is irrelevant.

  • Comment number 37.

    I was glad to see Schumacher at the top again and yes it has been a struggle. Most people forget when Michael was racing before there was in season testing in which you can change a lot on your car and develop without restriction which meant when you get to the next race it was not, will see if it works. Because now it is all done on computer simulation wind tunnels makes it harder . Michael likes his car developed around him to his racing style because of this it will take longer . I am picking him to be on podium no later than Spa where his driving style and set up will shine.Age will not restrict but car performance will.

  • Comment number 38.

    One race isn't a comeback, Schumacher has been average, except in Canada where experiance shows.

    I think if he'd come 3rd, he would be thinking he's good enough to stay another year, which he is not.

    Ross Brawn needs to take off his rose tinted specs and get aul Di Resta in the car in 2012

  • Comment number 39.

    @36 Marcus - I'm not sure where you think this BBC bias towards Button is!? As far as I can tell the BBC guys spend a lot of time talking about all of the British drivers, Hamilton, Button and Di Resta. You say "The facts are Button does not have all the attributes needed to develop into a top class driver". This is about somebody who has won the WDC. I think I would listen to former F1 drivers like Brundle or DC than an armchair expert like you.

    Note to BBC: the F1 coverage is excellent! Please keep it up and retain it!

  • Comment number 40.

    Its amazing that people keep saying one race isn't a comeback, yet 2 for another driver can result in him completely losing it apparently.

    Anyways I was highly impressed with Schumachers drive, so much so that for the first time since he left Bennetton I actually found myself cheering him on. His block on Hamilton early on was harsh but fair. Then his battle with Webber was great to watch, forcing Webber into outbraking himself a few times on the back straight.

    I was hoping to see him battle with Vettel at the last restart, kind of Master v Apprentice, unfortunately the Red Bull is still more than a match for the current Mercedes car.

    Maybe its not a comeback, but the prospect of seeing him racing like that more of the time and tussling with the front runners like we (and in most cases they) would like to see is a great prospect.

    As for the comments about Button only winnning the race because of the safety cars. You can only win the race thats in front of you, he still scythed through the field and put Vettel under enough pressure to make a mistake. After all "if" we'd had a traditional start rather than one under the safety car I don't think Vettel would have been leading at the first corner anyway.

    As for listening to Brundle and Coulthard, don't mind listening to Coulthard but Brundle seems to have an axe to grind. Seems to hate the fact that young drivers have opportunities at top teams that he never had. A kind of "Could've been a contender" syndrome

  • Comment number 41.

    Though I agree with a lot of the comments I am reading here. A couple of them kinda make wonder how some people see things.

    Michael Schumacher in the the full wets, while he was being hounded by Button and Hamilton was still all up in Rosbergs gear box. So still under immense pressure from superior cars, he was still at the very minimum racing at Rosberg's pace. Therefore I think it would be safe to assume that if Schumacher was not in defensive mode, he'd be the far quicker driver.

    Though track to track, it is quite hard to compare but I think it would be somewhat safe to assume that the Renaults and the Mercedes are punching around at the same weight. But Schumacher, on the inters over took them both (Petrov into turn 6 and Heidfeld with the DRS.) But what astonished me the most was how Schumacher pulled away from the 2 Renaults.

    In terms of lap times, Schumacher (lap to lap) was a smidge quicker than vettel, in a slower car on the inters, I am not sure how hard Vettel was pushing, but I am sure, for someone who is interested in records, knowing that his Idol set the fastest time, he would want to push and beat it. But never the less, lets say he was the 2nd fastest guy on the inters in a Merc, that is still quite mighty if you ask me.

    Now, what I want to know is how can Schumacher find this pace and Rosberg couldnt. Rosberg from flag to flag was no where near as quick as Schumacher in Canada, yes he got a problem here and there, but Schumacher had the same issues but managed to over take pretty much from the back of the grid after he pit for inters.

    Now, in regards to his overtake of Kob and Mas. yes they made it easy... But he was catching them at the rate of knots. And then pulled away at the same pace.

    But was this a fluke? Agreed, for one reason or another, schumi's pace in qauli has been slower than Nico's. But after starting behind him in all but one race... He has out raced him and finished infront of Nico in more races than he hasn't. So there is no doubt that Schumi is a lot better this year. But Nico, barring his drive where he was in 1st place in China for a few laps, has been pretty poor on race day.

    Thats enough about that!

    Button was good, leave off his. Yes I agree they are blowing his drive out of porportion but for someone who is considered as a conservative driver, he took out both Lewis and Alonso (I DO BELIEVE HE WAS AT FAULT FOR BOTH INCIDENTS!) and then won on the final lap.

    Not bad Telly ay? BBC you cant give up on us now. you have us where you want us.

    Great TV

  • Comment number 42.

    First of all i would just like to say that the BBC coverage and forums are doing a brilliant job, allowing true F1 fans to have their say in a fun and safe enviroment. Lets hope we see it remain on the beeb for many years to come.

    Having read the article and the many responses that have been posted it seems that there is still the same old divide when it comes to Schumacher; The lovers and the haters.

    For the lovers; Its great to see Michael back, he is a living legend and he has certainly earned the right to represent any team on the current grid because a) he has given so much to the sport (good and bad) (b) becuase he is actually a damn site better than the majority of the younger drivers currently out there.

    He may have lost a little pace but has shown more than a glimpse of his true talent in more than one race this year. The amount of tweets and facebook comments that came from my friends(most of which hate Schumacher) during the canadian GP were willing the Silver baron to go on to win it. Its seems perceptions of the man have changed for many people.

    For the haters: In F1 Terms, Michael is ancient. He will never be able to constantly compete against younger and fitter drivers such as Lewis, Seb, Jenson and Alonso. The front end of the field is alot more competitive than was in Michaels first career, showing that Micheals former glory was down do the team his was in and the lack of major opponents lining up along side him every other sunday.

    Micheal is not going to win another world championship and at this rate of car development will not have a good enough car before his contracts runs out.

    What i am struggling to understand is the amounts of attacks which have been directed towards Button in these posts? Do we not support our drivers, especially ones that have proven their ability and have laid claim to a world title? Button is no Hamilton, we all know his out right pace can be a little (0.1-.0.2 seconds) slower than his immediate rivals but this is not where his best points are proved.

    Button is a technical driver who uses his vast F1 and motorsport experience to make decisions (tyre calls,pit stops) at the right time in order for him to maximise his potential. Its all good and well driving at a million miles an hour and beyond your ability for the first 20 laps of a race but if this results into slamming it into a wall or into your team mate (seb/lewis) is doesnt really help! To finish first first you have to finish!

    Button has prove

  • Comment number 43.

    Considering Michael's increased level of motivation as well as the support he is constantly receiving both from Ross Brawn and all his fans, I tend to look at his future in an optimistic way.
    The race already started outside the Valencia track, with Schumacher's latest opinion that they hope Mercedes GP will be among the leaders.
    I'm impatient to see what will happen in the battle between Mercedes GP and Lotus Renault.
    Micheal and Nico have both 26 points and 52 for the team.
    Vitaly Petrov have 31, Nick Heidfeld 29 and 60 points totally for the team.
    My personal opinion is that Mercedes GP will will outrun Lotus Renault in Valencia.

  • Comment number 44.

    test y wont my post, post

  • Comment number 45.

    Schumacher is way past it, one swallow does not make a summer. Lets not forget the likes of Alonso and Hamilton didn't finish, he was just the best of the rest. Nobody would bat an eye lid had Rosberg finished 4th, just classed as another solid performance from him.

    Look at Schumacher now, all smiles for the camera minutes before the race start, laughing and joking about. Back in the day Schumacher would be in the zone and nothing would distract him from that. Button is suffering from something similar, pre Canada he seems too relaxed, happy to qualify 4th and 5th on a regular basis. Look at Vettel after Canada, sick as a dog despite finishing 2nd and extending his lead, that's why he's a champion

  • Comment number 46.

    I think it is unfair to compare 'Schumi now' to 'Shumi then'! I believe Shumi can recover fully and take another title because historically, in sports in general, people have taken a little while to re-tune themselves. You don't take 3 years out and come back without losing something when you haven't trained for it. His Montreal display was beautiful and akin to a drive of champions (take note, I was a Shumi hater!!!). Was Shumi right to come back? Of course he was right, it was his decision to make for himself, not the rest of the world. Will it be a waste of time? Well, sitting at the computer talking about it is a waste of time, so who are we to judge! I just want to watch F1 and enjoy the immense performance of driver and machine. Shumi was entertaining in Canada and I've enjoyed watching his comeback for the right reasons. I don't however, much enjoy watching Lewis Hamilton because half the time I'm watching his do something with VERY poor judgement. Which leads me to the chip I have on my shoulder about ALL those who try to intelligently down-play Jenson Button as a racer and driver. Only the acutely ignorant would look at his performance in Montreal (and Monaco) and make a list of reasons why it was still an average drive! There were plenty of 'average' drivers all around Jenson in the same race (don't forget he overtook THE WHOLE FIELD) but they came nowhere near the front of the grid! Oh, not to mention that Jenson had the fastest lap in the race! Show me when Lewis came from the back of the grid to win and I'll show you a montage of Lewis crashes because he goes for every gap....that isn't actually there!!! That is the difference between Lewis and Jenson, Lewis is quickest over a single lap but he does not have the intelligence to know when to go for it and when to hold back and wait for an actual opportunity like Jenson does. Jenson has proven he is one of the best, if not the best overtaker in the business (purely my opinion on the last comment and I am completely welcoming to other opinions on that point but not the silly opinions that he is 'average')

  • Comment number 47.

    I agree with comment 3 reverend frog
    Schumis now ancient hes 42 hes reactions are slower the mercs slow yet he still manages to finish fourth beating the younger guys with faster reactions and fas. And as for coolkev comment number 10 and 12. Aww did poor button knock lewis off the road? Just liks lewis did to massa and maldonado in monaco, what goes around comes around. Simple as. And button was lucky just as he was unlucky in monaco where he should havw won its karma and he made hes own luck as he was quicker than vettel when it counted.

  • Comment number 48.

    @46.

    I don't understand why one always needs to Fly the flag for one driver at the expense of another.

    I was definately one who when Jenson won his WDC who said it was mainly the car but my respect for him has grown since his move to McLaren. He has thrown himself into the Lions den and proved that he was worthy of hi WDC.

    However even he admits himself that Lewis has the edge over him and the reason he moved to McLaren was to have a benchmark so he could push himself further.

    It was a fantastic race from Button but I can't help but think the incident between him and Lewis in Canada was a bit of a rash "he's not passing me in another race" maneouvre that turned into a mistake. Saying that, i'm glad the stewards didn't see it that way because to rob him of that victory would have been very wrong.

    Get the chip off your shoulder, there'll always be people who support different teams or drivers and enjoy the fact there's 2 British WDC's in a British team pushing for the title :-)

  • Comment number 49.

    I am Glad Schuey is back in F1, and he has already proven that he has the ability and still deserves his place on the grid. Lets not forget that the cars were completely different to what he was used to, as were the Tyres when he came back, and there was inevitably going to be a period of adjustment. But in general he has driven well this year and his times in free practice have more than compared to his team mate.

    As for Canada, it was a superb drive and watching him fend off Webber and Jenson reminded me of the Schuey of old. Lets also remember that in the last two races he has, quite frankly, EMBARRASSED Lewis Hamilton, who pretty much declared himself the race winner before the weekends started and definitely had the equipment to win both. A beautiful overtake into the Lowes (It'll always be called that for me) Hairpin and robust yet fair defending in Canada were a joy to watch. Let's not also forget that he was driving beautifully at Monaco (again!) before suffering that airbox fire.

  • Comment number 50.

    I think this season, more so than last season, is showing a very different side to Schumi than we remember from his days dominating the sport. Now we're seeing the racer that enjoys himself and the sport.

    I didn't like his dominance before, but this new side he's showing has changed my perceptions. My heart sank when he failed to get on the podium in Canada (which, since I was excited by Button's performance, just made the race even more interesting).

    On to Button, respect for him should be deepening. All the drivers said that the move by Hamilton was optimistic, all drivers at one point in the race said they couldn't see anything in front of them and all drivers, past and present, seem to agree that Button wouldn't have been able to see anything in his mirrors before Hamilton made his move. Both drivers accepted fault, though neither was to blame. Luckily for fans of Mclaren and F1 in general, the stewards saw it that way too.

    Button did get lucky in Canada. But then, Vettel got lucky in the race previous.. all the drivers have the same opinion on luck, it seems: You make you're own luck. Button did that fantastically. Same as when he won the WDC, he was in the right car, at the right time, and made, mostly, the right calls.

    Afterall, didn't Schumi get lucky; driving to multiple championships with no real contenders?

    No reason to bash drivers for "luck". Or for incidents that weren't actually their fault.

  • Comment number 51.

    Legend, and finally the car seems to be coming to him. I don't think anyone expected Mercedes to be this far off the pace for so long, and that is no reflection on Schumi IMO. Hopefully the team will continue to progress as the season develops.

    #45 - being "best of the rest" is no disgrace whatsoever, particularly when you're pressing the likes of Button and Webber in far superior machinery. If he is "way past it" then (the highly rated) Rosberg should be utterly embarassed. A 7 time world champion and 41 year old looking relaxed, who'd have thought it?!

  • Comment number 52.

    The first response by Reverend Frog said everything that's needed to be said about this hyped revival of Schumacher, a wet race that was affected by safety cars and the longest redflag period is not a good basis for predicting the future of Schumacher's season.

  • Comment number 53.

    @ suchan

    As for winning the WDC, so did Damon Hill, what's your point?

    In all honesty, I wouldn't value the opinion of unsuccessful drivers, like Coulthard. He was an ' AlsoRan' and rarely, if ever, got the best out of his equipment. I guess we need guys like him in the field though. They act as filler for our races, and of course because they're British, we occasionally want them to win

    Ive already scored Button's racing attributes out of 10 on another thread, but just for you here is an example of one.

    Confidence 2/10
    1. Woeful in the opening laps of the Canadian GP
    2.Made a significant error while being pressurised by Hamilton during the same race which caused their eventual collision and the demise of his team leader.
    3. Poor in qualifying
    4. When asked by his pit wall late in the Canadian GP for a judgement on the condition of the circuit, he replied " its just about right" Even though the circuit was bone dry in places. :'

    You see, he lacks the confidence, and that is just 1 of a great many attributes which go into making a great f1 driver

  • Comment number 54.

    Marcus, we rarely (though we did get the almost immediate reaction from Button after the collision with Hamilton) get the radio feed as it happens, we usually get it a few laps later. We don't know when he actually said "It's just about right".

  • Comment number 55.

    im the first to admit that the lewis/jenson was not jensons fault as he anticipated lewis move to the left he didnt react afterwards but what does anger people is the fact that buttons move on alonso...
    we all agree that this move was quite optimistic from the englishman ... i would say it was a hamiltons like mistake and should have been penalised... it would have been if it was hamilton...

    to be clear jensons win will always be tarnished by that and no matter how hard you try he wont be given the credit you would hope he receive...

    i think this incident tells a lot about f1 as i think alonso wont want to go give the victory to vettel so he didnt push for a penalty

    in f1 there are no more clear regulations it depends on the driver and this is the biggest problem

    regarding button... well i think it also prove that ferrari and alonso dont fear him as im sure if it had been lewis they would have pushed to strip him off the victory... even if it meant giving the victory to vettel

    sorry but dont get ahead of yourselves with button he will have to win properly to get the credit from the neutral followers...

  • Comment number 56.

    @53

    i think unless your a member of the McLaren team or speak with him on the radio on a regular basis im guessing your not really the best person to offer your opinion on how to Interpret what a driving says during a race?

    I take you are one who favours Lewis slightly more than Jenson, which you are obviously are entitled too. Everyone has the right to voice their opinion but it is usually better if it is back up with some facts rather than enforcing your opinion based upon ones mindset. For example;

    "Made a significant error while being pressurised by Hamilton during the same race which caused their eventual collision and the demise of his team leader."

    If we are to look at the incident you will see that there is huge amounts of spray coming off the back of Buttons car, and as you will see in earlier posts both current drivers and past drivers have said that Button would have not been able to see. He was taking the normal driving line as every other driver had for the previous laps in the race.

    If any thing the mistake lies at Lewis's door knowing that he wouldnt be able to see in his mirrors. A gap was their and lewis is a racer and thats why people love hi, but the difference is there was no "thought" behind the manouvre at least not about its consequences.

    Button isnt a great qualifier by his own admission (neither was schumacher in his own words) and he knows this is something his must improve on to stay close to his rivals. On this point you are correct.

    I think its easy to over look and easy to critacise a driver like Button, but lets not forget he is a world champion. And before you say "its was all the cars doing" how was it he got into that car in the first place? By proving to team bosses, and his peers that he does deserve to drive for a top team. Yes Brawn was a new team, but one that was born form the spending powers of Honda, what ever badge was on the car that year it would have been a title contendar.

    And lets not also forget that to say Button is rubbish is undermining the decsisions of some of the greatest minds in F1 i.i Ron Dennis and Martin Whitmarsh. Oh and Ferrari are apparently after him..... they dont tend to pick bad drivers ;)

  • Comment number 57.

    tiphayne1: Again, no it wasn't Button's fault alone. Button was on the racing line in the corner, Alonso was in front but off the racing line. Maybe he didn't see Button, but all he did was try to put his car back on the racing line, and that led to a collision. No-one in particular at fault (let's face it, most drivers in Button's position at that point would have backed off, despite being on the racing line), which is not the same as saying neither driver was faultless.

  • Comment number 58.

    sibbwolf : no no it was jensons fault sorry rewatch the incident alonso was in the racing line he was following the car in front...

    jenson hit alonso back wheel and he cant pass alonso there as the next turn was to the left alonso had the preferential position...

  • Comment number 59.

    haha so whenever button is involved in a crash its a racing incident please be serious for once ...

  • Comment number 60.

    This ‘who is the best driver’ debate will obviously run on and on, with people putting forward the case for their favourite being the best. But it’s extremely difficult to get a full feel for which driver is performing to the greatest extent of their ability. The car vs driver issue always gets in the way. Of course, comparing teammates always gives you some idea, and in that respect Schumacher has slowly raised his game and now appears to have the edge on Rosberg, however it was only a few races ago that the opposite seemed the case. These two Germans certainly seem to be developing a nice rivalry, and it’s likely that that’s spurring them both onto better things, with the balance see-sawing between the two. Of course, with a car which isn’t the class of the field, success will always be hard to find. But then, how do you assess the potential of a race car? Maybe the Mercedes is the fastest car on the grid but neither driver is managing to drive to its limit, or maybe its ‘true’ position would be battling with the Torro Rossos, but the quality of the drivers is promoting it up the grid. We’ll obviously never know.

    Comparing Schumacher’s performances now with those which defined his ‘first’ career, is also a difficult thing to do. Of course, we can look at performance relative to teammate, and say that while at Ferrari he was never consistently outpaced. But then we know of the contractual obligations which often kept Barrichello artificially in the number 2 spot, and even if that weren’t the case, we would still have no idea how his Ferrari teammate compares to Rosberg. It could be that Rosberg is an incredible talent and Schumacher is now having to drive better than he ever did at Ferrari in order to beat him. Or the opposite is true.

  • Comment number 61.

    One thing that is very hard to dispute, is that the landscape has changed entirely since the days of Schumacher’s reign at the top of the grid. He was one element in a ‘perfect storm’ of conditions which made success such a regular event for Ferrari. He was a great driver, no doubt, but a great driver in a great car, supported by a great team. A team with greater resources than any other on the grid, able to develop more aggressively, test more intensively, and refine their package to a degree seemingly out of reach even for the likes of McLaren. Formula 1 is now a very different, much more level, playing field. With restrictions on teams which prevent the ferocious development races seen in the nineties and early noughties, the cars are now much more evenly matched. And with teams less able to get a mechanical advantage when creating their cars, there’s more of a focus on the science of creating their drivers. Raw talent is no longer the single defining criteria. Fitness is higher than ever before, mental agility tested to MENSA-esque standards, talents taken and refined from the youngest possible age in driver development programmes charged with the explicit goal of creating the next Senna or Schumacher. It is doubtless a controversial statement, but when you consider the demands made on drivers, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that the current generation of drivers is stronger than at any point in history. No longer do we have one or two standout talents, followed by a field of also-rans. We have a grid full of drivers who, if given the right equipment, would be able to win a race and put in a consistent, hard performance. The real difference between drivers these days is not necessarily how fast they are, but how consistently they can find that tiny extra element which may give them a tenth or so over their teammate – a mere blink of an eye’s worth of performance, but such is the immense depth of talent on the grid, this is all that any driver can really claim over his teammate.

    So what is my point? That Schumacher’s ability at any point in his career is no longer relevant to his current performances. He can only be judged by his performance at this moment, because at no point in history has a driver had to work as hard to make any kind of impression in the white-hot crucible of Formula 1.

  • Comment number 62.

    Personally, I was delighted to see MSC up there racing at the front of the field. I'm not a particular fan of his but it's good to see different drivers up there and competing.

    I don't care about the armchair critics' opinions, if they can do so much better then why aren't they on the front row of the grid!!

    I just know that towards the end of Montreal I was on the edge of my seat and haven't enjoyed a Grand Prix this much since Mansell and Senna were wheel to wheel for the World Championship.

    Cracking stuff guyz tytytyty

  • Comment number 63.

    tiphayne1:

    Quite a few racing incidents, and no, not just because it was Button. Even Alonso said it was a racing incident, or did you miss that?

    Also, read my posts. You might be surprised by the fact I didn't say Button was entirely faultless.

  • Comment number 64.

    I don't belive ANY fair judgement can be made until Mercedes produce a faster and more competative car, then we will know for sure what ability for pace Michael can produce.

  • Comment number 65.

    @61 mazdachris.
    I'm not totally sure what point you are trying to make but if you are trying to say formula one today is tougher than ever because it has the strongest driver lineup then this is total nonsense. Go and look at formula one in the late eighties and early to mid nineties the cars in that era behaved in the dry as the cars of today behave int he wet. Todays formula one compared to those days is like Scalextric the cars are stuck to the road and so stable round the track. Last few years I've seen F1 drivers make their debut in F1 during a race weekend without ever having drove an F1 car that would have been un heard of 20 years back. F1 driving is a lot easier today than it was in the era of seena and prost and co.

    As far as your views on Schumacher, yes he was in a perfect storm as you would say in a big team etc etc. However again check the histroy. When Schumacher arrived Ferrari had not won the drivers championship for something like 17 or 18 years, hardly a team at the top of their game now were they. He along with the other people created this perfect storm. It was not easy for the first 2 years Williams were miles ahead and then the next 2 it was Mccalaren, however on each of those years apart from 1996 Schumacher pushed them all the way and would have won the title in 1999 had he not broke his leg and missed half of the season.

    For me those were his greatest years because he pushed Williams and Mclaren in car that was so far inferior to the Williams of 1997, and the Mclaren of 1998, 1999.

    Once he and the team got the car in perfect shape he then blew every one else away.

  • Comment number 66.

    @ maverick

    "If we are to look at the incident you will see that there is huge amounts of spray coming off the back of Buttons car, and as you will see in earlier posts both current drivers and past drivers have said that Button would have not been able to see. He was taking the normal driving line as every other driver had for the previous laps in the race."

    This brings me onto his Vision attribute, which i scored him 4/10

    1. Unable to see Hamilton in his mirrors, despite making an error on the previous corner.
    2. Pulls into the wrong pit garage. Later said he was looking "down" at the time? What at? The colour of his overalls?? Hamiltons telemetry??
    3. Apparently unable to spot any gaps when behind other cars, even when he's significantly faster. Monaco highlights this.

    Examining these reasons:

    1.Since he is aware of Hamilton's close proximity before the error, he should not have changed lines on the straight after the error. In other words, if you cannot see due to significant spray, and if you've just made a driving mistake coming off the last bend while being pressurised, then the common sense thing to do is not change lines. Granted, Im unsure if I should file this under his intelligence attribute

    Error and spray aside, Button's line was different on that lap, to any other lap he took in the GP. If you take his line and superimposed it over all previous, and subsequent lines for that section of the track, bar overtakes and other variables, you will notice it was remarkably different. Even Martin Brundles initial reaction (without thought) said it all ' Button moved over on him'.

    2. When he was looking down into his cockpit, was he just checking which colour overalls he had on?? Again this error could be filed under his intelligence attribute

    3. He sat behind Alonso and Vettel for lap after lap. When asked later just what the hell he thought he was doing, he replied "biding my time" Says it all

  • Comment number 67.

    Marcus...

    "Since he is aware of Hamilton's close proximity before the error, he should not have changed lines on the straight after the error."

    He didn't change line. He stayed on the racing line.

  • Comment number 68.

    @65 saf312
    I don't think you can compare the cars of yesteryear with the machines being driven today. They're completely different animals. Today's F1 cars are indeed stuck to the ground, thanks to the highest levels of downforce at any point in history, but they also have much much higher cornering speeds, generating huge lateral G forces which require enormous physical fitness to drive.

    And don't forget that this generation of cars don't have the benefit of traction control, active suspension systems, launch systems, or any of the other bits of electrickery which appeared in the 80s and early 90s.

    Drivers are also far more busy behind the wheel. Drivers of the 80s had a steering wheel, a gear shifter, and maybe a brake bias adjuster. These days the steering wheels are covered in switches allowing the driver to contrantly adjust elements of the car's mechanical setup, and that's without also considering things like DRS.

    Of course, you could easily argue that driving an older F1 car is a purer experience, with much more focus on driver input, but I'd counter that by saying that today's cars are far more mentally and physically demanding. But it's all speculation isn't it, since neither you nor I have ever driven an F1 car of any generation (I'm making assumptions here, and apologies if you are an ex-F1 driver, in which case I'll obviously bow to your experience ;-))

    The point though, is that there is far less of a difference between the level of performance that drivers are able to extract from their cars. You say it's because cars are easier to drive, I say it's because drivers are generally more skilled now than they used to be. Whatevet the reason though, the point still stands that the best a driver can really hope to do, is outperform their teammate by a small margin, and of course hope that they just happen to be in the best car at the time. There's nobody out there who is massively outperforming (or underperming) the ability of their cars, because the limit is so finely balanced for all of them.

  • Comment number 69.

    10.At 18:34 20th Jun 2011, CoolKev

    This has nothing to do with hamilton. So go do one.

  • Comment number 70.

    One race wonder.

    Won't make it to the top 10 shoot out at Valencia.

  • Comment number 71.

    Quite a few racing incidents, and no, not just because it was Button. Even Alonso said it was a racing incident, or did you miss that?
    ___________________________________________

    uh ??!! no i didnt miss that... it even made me grin

  • Comment number 72.

    @68
    No I defo aint no F1 driver just observation, I understand your point about drivers being a lot busier in the cockpit nowadays but it just seems like these cars are a lot easier to control you hardly ever see a driver fighting his car to the finish.

  • Comment number 73.

    I think this will be the closest Schumacher will get to be on a podium. He has never been that strong at Silverstone and with changes to exhaust diffusion I suspect Ferrari and McClaren will be closer to Red Bull, with Mercedes not getting any disadvantage as they didn't exploit that technicality like the top 3 teams. Business as usual at the Spanish, sorry European, Grand Prix. Oh and please no more 4 hour 5 minute races thanks, this isn't Le Mans!

  • Comment number 74.

    @sibbwolf

    I meant, Button's defence is that he couldn't see anything because of the heavy spray, so after his mistake he was on the right of the track (or our left) he should've stayed right and not drifted over to the pit wall. By drifting over like that (assuming it was just a drift and not some deliberate movement) he put other drivers lives at risk, anyone could've been on his left hand side.

  • Comment number 75.

    @ Marcus

    I think we all know Button has made a few errors in his time, the "pit stop" incident and his was response to what happened was comic geniuos ;) I think we can say that every driver whether a its a world champoin or a rookie in their first year has made mistakes. Both Alsono and Montoya both managed to spin cars in the dry on a formation lap, Vettel driving into the back of Webber under a safety car, Hamilton making stupid remarks about drivers and misinforming stewards to obtain further race points.
    These are all example of extremley talented inviduals making mistakes both on and off the track due the pressure cooker that is F1.

    We need to examine Buttons tactics of "sitting behind others" in Monaco rather than implying that he was just being lazy.
    He had a set of tyres in a better condition than his competitors: rather than make a brash move on a circuit that had seen so many others end up in the wall he was making calm and calculated descisions as to when to make his move, or if he should at all.

    Although everyone is in a sport to win it takes a more mature driver to look at "the bigger picture" and decide that maybe taking the points will have to do. Points win prizes DNF's do not.

    No one can look into the future and see what is coming, so the fact the Safety car came out (which then led to the normal Monaco parade) can not be attributed to his lack of over taking.

  • Comment number 76.

    Andrew, its a fair article, but I would question whether the issue is deserving of a 'Schumacher finally finds his form' blog.

    Putting this as the title alone, and basing the article on one performance, was bound to attract plenty of Schumacher haters, but then maybe that was your intention? This wouldn't totally surprise me as I think the BBC's coverage of Schumacher has been pretty negative since his comeback.

    Anyway, on a personal level I hope Schumacher pulls through and keeps up his performances. I thought he drove pretty well in Spain too and he's generally started well. I would love to see him competing at the front of the grid again.

  • Comment number 77.

    Re 30

    Ralf, the faster brother? You must be kidding! Besides, Ralf has never had the utter determination that Michael had to succeed.

    Re 35 - Jack Connoly

    A great point, and one I would agree with.

  • Comment number 78.

    Put Michael Schumacher in a Red Bull and he would be at or near the top of the driver standings. The fact is that the Mercedes is not a "good" as the red bull. Simple.

  • Comment number 79.

    Marcus, you're saying he should have just given up, then? He had every right to stay on the racing line, which is what he did.

    Ironically, if he'd stayed right (thus actually making a defensive move, contrary to what some people appear to believe) he'd have been off the racing line and on a much more slippery surface - simply put, he'd have been an even greater danger, and not just to Hamilton, but to all drivers coming onto the straight.

  • Comment number 80.

    When Schumacher was in his prime the difference between pole and 10th was measured in seconds, now the places are measured in a few hundredths or even thousandths of a second. In Canada Micheal was only 2 thousandths off Nico's time but that was enough to be 2 places back! I agree with some F1 pundits in that the difference between being very fast and being a driving superstar is all about your senses, when your on it everything happens as though you are a passenger, your mind starts to draw in the race track and the track is driven like dot to dot drawing - perfect everytime. You cant teach it but some drivers can find this state of mind - Schumacher had it for years and a few good results will see it return fingers crossed.

  • Comment number 81.

    @ sibbwolf

    I dont think staying right qualifies as a defensive move in the wet. Its the correct thing to do, as it allows the faster runners to pass safely through. We all know breaking zones are incredibly long in the wet and if some also-ran is weaving around in front of you, recovering from some driving error, then that is a very dangerous situation to be in. Just be sure to splash some more water on his visor as you pass, to further compound his bad day.

    @ Maverick

    I agree there are times when its best to sit back and wait but i don't think the situation in Monaco qualifies. The truth is Jensen should have taken a risk there and the reason he didn't is because he is a stat whore and is afraid of taking risks for fear of looking bad in comparison to his team mate.

  • Comment number 82.

    77: Cheers mate!

    78: You could say that most drivers would be near the front in a Red Bull as it simply is the best car on the track, and congrats to their engineering team for making it happen. In my opinion, a car that wasn't right at the front didn't bother Schumacher when he was winning titles in Benettons and pre-WDC Ferraris. Of course in the 21st century he took full advantage of his superior Ferrari. Yet we mustn't forget that Schumacher played a major role in bringing Ferrari back to the top, and I'm sure Vettel does the same thing with Red Bull to optimise his performance. To me it's a sign that Schumacher is not as good as he was because in the 1990s, he would be planting that Mercedes on the front row every race. Yet, he's still got time to bring Mercedes up a notch, don't write him off for podiums or maybe even wins at the end of the season/ next season if he continues.

  • Comment number 83.

    Marcus, you're wrong. Still.

    This was a race, not a sprint. If it was a sprint, I'd agree the right thing to do would have been to stay on the right. However, this is a race, and he had the right, and it was the right thing for him to do, to stay on the racing line. He was not blue flagged (it was for position, not lapping).

    Also, he was not weaving. He was following the racing line, not making any moves.

  • Comment number 84.

    @jack

    After Senna's death Schumacher had very little competition. The strength of the field was much weaker back then. Alesi, Berger both in the Autumn of their careers. Hill in the Williams, painfully slow. Schumacher's team mates, hand picked from mediocrity. Hakkinen, arguably the only realistic challenger, hampered by the inadequacies of his car.

    The only thing that could stop Schumacher from winning races was his health and reliability. Don't get me wrong I like Schumacher, but there's no doubt it, he was a big fish in a little pond back then

  • Comment number 85.

    84: A good point, I agree that Schumacher would not have had the success he did if he arrived on the scene five or ten years earlier when there were far more prolific drivers at the front. However, I would like to point out that at the the start of his career he immediately found himself battling with the likes of Senna, beating him in 1992 as well as comprehensively defeating his team-mate, an experienced Ricardo Patrese in 1993. Though you are still right, 'a big fish in a little pond' is perhaps the best way to describe him, if not a little rude!

    On an irrelevant side note, just while I referred to 1992, I feel that Mansell deserved far more titles than the one he achieved. I am interested in any quick responses regarding this.

  • Comment number 86.

    SibbWolf

    I can't be wrong in this case, because Button's defence is that he could not see anything at all in the wet conditions due to the heavy spray. Its wrong for him to stay on that racing line, if that line involves drifting across the track without vision, and at much slower speed relative to the cars behind, which it did. The safest thing to do is stay on the same trajectory as the one from which you came out of the error from, which in this case is to stay on the right hand side of the track.

  • Comment number 87.

    Marcus, that is exactly why you are wrong. This is racing, not a sprint, as I said. The right thing to do, is minimise risk by staying on the racing line unless there's blue flags.

    No blue flags, he stays, CORRECTLY, on the racing line. The onus is on the faster car - which has a flashing right light as a reference point far the car in front - to make an overtaking manoeuvre. Hamilton tried, Button didn't see him, accident happened.

    As for trajectory, since all cars on the racing line "drift" to the left, its safe to say that is the trajectory the turn exits on to.

  • Comment number 88.

    @ Marcus

    I would argue that the pool of drivers is not that much stronger now. Granted Hamilton and Vettel have emerged, but MSC faced Hakkinen, Hill, Alonso and Senna (briefly). Montoya, Coulthard and Villneuve weren't bad either.

    Also, you seem to be forgetting that Ferrari were a mess when he first arrrived, hence the time it took for him to reclaim the world title.

  • Comment number 89.

    Actually, Marcus, to see what I mean about Button even thinking about staying to the right on that straight, I suggest you look at Vettel moving off the racing line much later in the race, and imagine that instead of the run-off area to slide into, it might be the path of another car.

    Button couldn't see anything, there were no blue flags, the safe, smart and only thing for him to do was to stay on the racing line. If he did make an error (after the corner), it was not looking in his mirror often enough to see if Hamilton was indeed trying to make that move.

  • Comment number 90.

    Also, remembr when Massastrayed off the racing lin to lap that Hispania and lost control, smashing hi front wing and ruining the chancefor him to score some serious points.

  • Comment number 91.

    Excuse the typos there.

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    92: Whether he was an attention whore or not, I still think that on the track he was unlucky not to win more titles. He is overlooked far more than he deserved compared to Senna and Prost though I appreciate that they obviously won more titles. Some losses were of his own making (Suzuka 1987) but at times he lost crucia races due to pit-lane errors, mechanical faults or just sheer bad luck (Adelaide 1986). I just feel that his outright racing ability was well up with Senna and Prost, hence why we see so many classic Grand Prix with them all going wheel to wheel with each other.

  • Comment number 94.

    My apogolies to everyone by the way, I seemed to have veered far from the point.

  • Comment number 95.

    I think that took place a while ago! We have all been talking about Button,hamilton,Prost and Senna for about two hours!

    Great chat guys/gals. Enjoyed the debate.

    Marcus i still think you're wrong ;) We'll pick this up another time!

    Cheers

  • Comment number 96.

    @sibbwolf

    It seems your placing all of the responsibility with the driver behind?? Which would be correct if the circuit was dry. However, during the wet I feel the driver in front has to accept a certain level of responsibility for his driving style AND the way he behaves coming out of an error. Safety is paramount, the onus is not totally with the guy behind in these situations. The driver behind has limited reaction time , reduced visibility, and long breaking zones to content with. So i feel the driver in front has to shoulder some of that weight by behaving responsibly and not making any sudden movements across the track.

  • Comment number 97.

    I dont agree that Schumacher was a big pond in little fish. The fact is he raced with the greats like Senna and beat him and this is coming from someone who started watching F1 because of Senna, he raced in an inferior Ferarri for many years and pushed all the way in the title challenges.

    The simple thing is once he was at peak form and the car was perfect he was so dominate that of course the others are going to look weak. So you can either take the view the he was too great and thats why he dominated or you can take the view that suddenly F1 was full of rubbish drivers during the early noughties.

  • Comment number 98.

    @97
    Ah come on now, Schumacher raced against Senna while Senna was struggling with terrible cars which were way off the pace. Senna in the Williams was awful, unable to generate any kind of good result. Maybe it's bad taste to say it, but this ill-fated stint at Williams perhaps highlights the fact that no matter how good a driver, if he has a poor car then there's simply nothing he can do with it. Sure, Schumacher moved to Ferrari while they were in the doldrums, but he had to endure a couple of seasons of poor results before the combination of Brawn, Schumacher, Byrne, and Todt managed to create a car capable of winning the championship. He certainly didn't just jump in a middle-of-the-road Ferrari and suddenly start winning championships.

    So with Senna dead, Prost retired, who were the drivers challenging Schumacher? Villeneuve, Coulthard, Montoya, Hakkinen, Raikkonen. How many of those would we really count as brilliant drivers? Sure, all good on their day, but really in the same league? The first driver I think that Schumacher ever went up against who really had the ability to consistently find the extra bit of performance that marks the difference between the good and the brilliant, would be Alonso. And sadly Ferrari never really gave Schumacher enough of a car under him to be able to properly take the fight to Renault at the time.

    Sure, it's easy to think back about the greats of the sport, and imagine that they were somehow driving round in machines that were basically rattly old tin cans with three wobbly wheels, somehow managing to beat the rest of the field on talent alone against all the odds, but that's just not how Formula 1 works. You can be an incredible driver, but unless you've got a car underneath you, you'll never be able to show it.

  • Comment number 99.

    Marcus, I don't know what planet you are on if you expect someone with track position to move off the racing line to allow another driver past at any time, but especially in those conditions. Look what happened to Massa and Vettel. Spoken like a true armchair expert, you have become wrapped up in fuzzy logic.

    It's not dangerous because Hamilton can see it all happening right in front of him, and should know that Button will drift that way, as any other driver would. Button's mistake allowed Hamilton to close up on him, getting past is by no means a foregone conclusion just because he made an error. He still needs to earn it.

    I actually hope Button did mean it, and he'd have every right to. It's about time Button stopped accomodating Hamilton in these type of situations, Button has prevented a coming together a few times now by pulling out. Lewis seems to think if he just puts his car "out there" the other driver will get out of his way. Crazy and dangerous.

  • Comment number 100.

    @97
    I agree with preaty much everything you have said, for me what made Schumacher great was the years when he first joined Ferrari, it was a dog of a car but he was winning races in a car that did not deserve it. Senna used to do the same.

    Regarding your comments about Montoya, Hakkinonen, Villeneuve, Coulthard, we could say the same about Vettle, Webber would we regard them as amazing drivers if they were not in Red Bulls, last year every one was hammering vettle for crashing all the time.

    Button we all now regard as top driver but would we have said that had the Brawn of 2009 not been so dominate at the start of the season or had Barrechello not made so many mistakes combined with had so much bad luck.
    d.

 

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