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Schumacher's struggles come into focus

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Jonathan Legard | 16:10 UK time, Friday, 23 July 2010

By guaranteeing that he will be driving in Formula 1 in 2011, Michael Schumacher has at least silenced the growing speculation that his comeback would be a one-year wonder.

But the doubters and the critics remain to be convinced that he will ever recapture the brilliance that set him apart from his rivals and took him to a record haul of seven world titles.

Even a number of current drivers appear to be unimpressed by what they have seen of him over the first half of the season.

Lewis Hamilton, for example, yesterday described the Mercedes pairing of Schumacher and Nico Rosberg as "two solid drivers".

When asked whether he thought Schumacher had made it difficult for him to overtake in the rain in this year's Chinese Grand Prix, he just smiled broadly, paused then said: "If you think that, that's your opinion."

Jenson Button admitted that he "didn't expect him to be struggling at this stage".

Speaking privately, another championship contender who raced against him before he retired in 2006 firmly believes that the German will never be the supreme force he formerly was.

Not surprisingly, it being the German Grand Prix, this weekend has a very strong Schumacher focus.

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It's the first time since his return to F1 that he is racing in front of grandstands which became a Rhineland forest of flags and banners in his honour during his championship years.

But what's given the attention such momentum is the level of Schumacher's performance in 2010. He's beaten his team-mate just twice in 10 races, and been out-qualified eight times. Hardly champion form.

And Schumacher knows that. Some 109 points off Hamilton's championship lead, he's understandably ruled himself out of championship contention this year.

Yet he remains adamant that his unwavering aim to win an eighth world title next season is entirely plausible.

On one level, that attitude is entirely expected. This is, after all, Michael Schumacher we're talking about - one of the greatest drivers the world has ever seen, a man who never knew when he was beaten, and who was able to rise above uncompetitive machinery or treacherous conditions, or a combination of both, and still come out on top.

But on another level is Schumacher kidding himself, and only adding to the expectation which he has frequently described as being "unrealistic"?

Can he ever hit the high notes like he did before he retired - or is he just going to have to accept an unaccustomed place within the pack, albeit F1's most competitive pack in almost two decades?

It's hard to think of a classic Schumacher move this season, isn't it?

That pass on Fernando Alonso at the final corner in Monaco owed more to opportunism than outrageous talent, and, of course, was later penalised.

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He's admitted that he's not at the level he wants, still unable to get the maximum out of the new narrower front tyres.

The 2010 cars don't suit his more aggressive style of driving, where he prefers to turn in to a corner with massive front grip. Currently he's not finding the downforce he needs. He's losing out particularly in the slower corners, which require precision and technique under these new conditions.

"He's having to get used to feeling a tyre, controlling a tyre and finding the best way to get lap times from a tyre," Ross Brawn, his Mercedes team principal, has told BBC Sport in an interview to be broadcast on BBC One this weekend.

"He's finding it pretty challenging and we're not getting the results we expect."

Another team source has told me that Schumacher can't overload the tyres like he used to. It means he ends up fighting the car and over-driving to make up time which he can see he's losing to his team-mate.

That causes errors like the one which wrecked his final qualifying lap at Silverstone, where until the third part of the session he'd been the quicker Mercedes driver.

He was around three tenths of a second off Rosberg in the first race, and despite improvements at Spain, when a longer wheelbase car was introduced, and at Turkey, the gap has not closed.

Similarly, by trying to ride the kerbs like he used to, Schumacher has damaged the chassis. He's now on his third of the season.

Lack of testing has clearly handicapped him. "It's been a big challenge for him," according to Brawn, who supervised so many of the endless miles Schumacher put in around Ferrari's Fiorano test track, working his way through problems.

"I know when a lot of Michelin teams went on the Bridgestones (tyres in 2007), it took them six months to get competitive again - and some drivers suffered more than others in that phase," said Brawn.

More time in the car would be one part of the solution but the regulations don't presently allow for that.

Nor can Schumacher easily make up for the three seasons he was out of the cockpit.

Rubens Barrichello, only three years younger and a former team-mate, says he's driving better than ever but he's been involved in all the crucial phases of an F1 car's evolution in that time and as a result, he's been able to adapt to the frequent changes.

Schumacher, by contrast, stopped, and switched off that part of his life, and you can't just flick it back on.

But there is another view - expressed to me this week by two rival engineers, one of whom worked alongside Schumacher at Ferrari - that will raise howls of protest among the huge Schumacher fan club.

Their theory is that the seven-time champion's reactions have suffered in his time away from the sport. They believe he's finding it tougher to keep the balance of the car because he's not able to react quickly enough.

Both sources have completed sports science studies which showed how a sportsman's reflexes deteriorated from his late thirties onwards.

Schumacher's enthusiasm, commitment, knowledge and determination remain as sharp as ever but the whole racing package is not at its previous peak.

Damon Hill told us before Silverstone that nobody should write off Michael Schumacher, given his past achievements.

But under current conditions, it's hard to see him leading the way in the manner that he, and we, became accustomed to.

Now, it may be that Mercedes will produce a more competitive car for 2011 and Pirelli, which takes over from Bridgestone, will produce tyres that he can understand better.

If that's the case, then what a prospect - Schumacher in the mix alongside Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, Button, Webber and company.

On the other hand, it could be that F1 has seen the best of him - just like Lance Armstrong on his final Tour de France; seven times a winner but not once on his comeback.

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  • 1. At 5:19pm on 23 Jul 2010, cordas wrote:

    Having watched each race this season it seems to me that Schumi has suffered from a number of those bad luck incidents that can spoil races, a car that was designed in its initial concepts around Button who has a very different style, a very different car and set of tyres than what he was previously used to and constant media pressure and speculation that can't be helping. That said he is still a touch off the pace and has never really shown the spark and tempered ferocity that made him so successful and loved/hated by F1 fans.

    Personally I just wish the media would unwind a notch and cut out the gibberish commentary that shows a skin deep understanding of the sport, he is still a competitive driver and with a slight change in luck would have been competing for podiums already this season. Like Damon Hill I think its too early to be writing off his come back.

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  • 2. At 5:25pm on 23 Jul 2010, SupaSix-1 wrote:

    Its funny isnt it Johnathan that the press are always bashing Michael very unfairly and then yourselves constantly comparing him to Nico when you all have suddenly gone quiet about comparing Jenson to Lewis since Lewis has been dominating. The difference between team mates in Mercedes and the team mates in McLaren are'nt much different so why isnt there equal comparrisons? I mean the current stat between the 2 McLaren drivers is now 7-3 to Lewis (8-2 to Lewis if judging individual performances per GPs - In Spain Lewis was 2nd 2 laps before the end..so he outperformed jenson there too, inc in qualifying).

    As for Michael,
    Surely as professionals...you can understand that a man of 41, whos come out of a 3 year retirement into cars which have radically changed since his 'bowing out' and also considering the ban in testing...that it will take alot of time for him to get comfortable? You yourself said it: "Schumacher, by contrast, stopped, and switched off that part of his life, and you can't just flick it back on". I cant help but to see many conflicting statements in your blog.

    Not only damon, but a lot of other professionals say the same....Dont write Michael off.

    Let him be and just be glad to have a legend back in the sport. The media just want to bully him out as these are the games they play.


    Why have the bbc team gone so suddenly quiet on comparing the 2 McLaren drivers?
    Forget about points difference....looking at each performance this season already...Lewis has totally blistered jenson. But it seems like the close relationship the beeb team have with jenson is a big positive for jenson as it helps to detour any negative press by just ignoring it suddenly. I mean surely you guys can see that jenson is just not on the same level as Lewis?

    No doubt this post will be deleted. It would be nice to get a response as it will show that the beeb is open, fair & welcomes construtive critisisms as well.

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  • 3. At 5:28pm on 23 Jul 2010, JoC wrote:

    Schumacher's a bit like Rocky Balboa the way he keeps coming back for more and more punishment, whilst the younger hungrier guys who have that 'eye of the tiger' delight in picking him off one by one boosting their own profiles. Don't count out the old fighter's experience in helping build a car which could mount a serious challenge next time around as there's nothing as ferocious as a wounded big cat boxed into a corner. It would make Bernie Ecclestone a great movie script to sell F1 too!

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  • 4. At 5:38pm on 23 Jul 2010, MacauBlue wrote:

    Since Schumacher established himself over Martin Brundle all those years ago at Benetton, he's had a team built around him and a car designed for his particular (and unusual) driving style.

    That continued at Ferrari, where he also never allowed any opposition from any team-mates. When Rory Byrne's cars weren't quite on the pace, the genius of Ross Brawn on the pitwall brought results that other teams wouldn't have manageed… it was quite a special combination of talents.

    Add to that, the fact that Ferrari were able to veto ingenious design ideas from rival teams – Renault's mass damper and McLaren's second brake pedal being just two – not to mention an exclusive Bridgestone deal for a couple of years (where they even got Michelin to modify its tyres mid-season) and the legendary perceived special treatment from the FIA.

    After Senna's death, it was an era bereft of sublime talent in the right place at the right time – only Mika Hakkinen could challenge him regularly, when McLaren weren't shooting themselves in the foot. Then Alonso arrived and started beating Schumacher regularly.

    Bottom line is that Schumacher's greatness, although genuine, has been magnified artificially over the years. Now he no longer has those 'advantages' over the rest (except for experience) he is findng it difficult adapting to a car and tyres not built around him. We're also in the midst of a new generation of super-talents and, worryingly, Schumacher is being beaten comprehensively by a team-mate who has yet to prove he's one of them.

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  • 5. At 5:39pm on 23 Jul 2010, BR1 wrote:

    Schumacher is a legend 7 times world champion people criticise what's going this season, the proof of pudding is in the eating, it was only two seasons when Brawn G.P. were under the limelight as a new team. Yet even though it's Micheal Schumacher people are always so quick to judge my suggestion is when someone has become a seven times world champion only then and I really do mean only then are they able to criticise the most talented driver in a racing car I'm British and I know the home of motorsport is here but come on guys, he's older and wiser and once bitten twice as shy. I know when to accept defeat about a motor racing legend.

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  • 6. At 5:39pm on 23 Jul 2010, Nickynak wrote:

    Legard mentions Schumi's pass on Alonso, slow reactions there of course. Alonso was driving a Renault for two years and nobody said he had declined as a racer because he wasn't winning every race. If the car isn't good enough, then there is nothing a driver can do. Also Schumi was racing, albeit not in F1, during his retirement, and he is only 41, not Legards age, whatever that is (quite old from the look of him).

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  • 7. At 5:58pm on 23 Jul 2010, TheBBCFan wrote:

    Lets be honest he is driving on reputation rather than his talent at the moment. The Mercedes team seem to have ruined his best chances of finishes at Canada and Valencia when they brought him in for an early pit stop at the wrong time. He was unlucky with that, but even so he has been sluggish.

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  • 8. At 6:07pm on 23 Jul 2010, LuCiFeR SD wrote:

    Is it any wonder that Michael Schumacher is struggling to perform with the media continually belittling him?

    There is a psychological game going on with certain racing drivers and the media who are taking advantage of the man while he is down!

    I for one believe that Michael will suddenly find his feet and hit the ground running... All it will take is one small bit of luck and the right conditions. And when then happens, mark my words, he won't stop till he has that 8th championship title.

    Then Mr Legard, you and the other people who seem to enjoy kicking a man while he is down, will be eating your words, and I will provide you all with a bottle of ketchup to help take the bitter taste away from them.

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  • 9. At 6:25pm on 23 Jul 2010, sportmadgav wrote:

    Great blog Jonathan.

    If there are even questions over his reactions it's a foregone conclusion....he's not up to it. When an average (in terms of F1 starters) driver like Rosberg out-qualifies and out-races Schumi you know that something is not right. All the will in the world will not even bring him a race victory never mind a championship.

    But don't give up, ur a media darling now, always a good story with failure or success.

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  • 10. At 6:39pm on 23 Jul 2010, RedFive wrote:

    Michael Schumacher's copy of the "Racing Driver's Book of Excuses" must be in an extremely poor state of repair. Not only do he & the Team refer to it on a regular basis, but it seems that his apologists aren't averse to having a quick flick through whenever the need arises (which in 2010 is often).
    The inescapable fact id that in equal machinery to his teammate, he's getting comprehensively outperformed.

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  • 11. At 6:39pm on 23 Jul 2010, brendan25 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 12. At 6:40pm on 23 Jul 2010, sportmadgav wrote:

    PS. will someone tell the FIA that their regulations are making the cars very ugly. If I can make a golf analogy, 2 years ago they were Phil Mickelson, now they're Jim Furyk!!!

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  • 13. At 6:44pm on 23 Jul 2010, brendan25 wrote:

    get off schumis back give him the chance he deserves

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  • 14. At 7:06pm on 23 Jul 2010, Del Axford wrote:

    I dont like the guy. However, i do not take any joy in seeing how useless he looks when compared to the mighty ...errrrr... Nico Rosberg ?

    The guy was never particularly good to watch IMO there was always a whiff of something iffy about some of his drives. That start at Magny Cours for instance. When he shot between Hill and Mansell to take the lead into the long right hander. Looked well dodgy to me. Anyway, leaving all the LUCK (shall we call it) aside, An awful lot of his races were won by 30 seconds or more. Did people really find that exciting ?
    The A1 ring fiasco ?


    What has schumachers failure got to do with comparing Lewis and Jenson ??
    Nothing. Nothing at all.
    I think a certain schumacher fan is trying to deflect attention here.

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  • 15. At 7:52pm on 23 Jul 2010, emadf1 wrote:

    One key issue is the rigorous drills and non-stop practice as the blog refers to Michael’s in-season testing during his years with Ferrari. As this is no longer available to him he is instead acquiring the driving package in its entirety at the actual GP weekends which means performance results will come later rather than sooner. It took him a while before imposing his driving authority at Ferrari. But once he does and this obviously will be tangibly felt towards the end of this season, then and only then we could and probably will see the old Schumacher.

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  • 16. At 7:55pm on 23 Jul 2010, Paul wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 17. At 8:02pm on 23 Jul 2010, MegaLuls wrote:

    Bit of a nothing story this. Despite his past triumphs, Schumacher is essentially a rookie. There is only so much you can take from his previous F1 experiences given that the regulations have changed so much. Therefore, I expect stories on how Senna, De La Rosa, Hulkenberg et al are also struggling.

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  • 18. At 8:14pm on 23 Jul 2010, BillFenner1967 wrote:

    I hardly think even Schumacher can "guarantee" that he'll be driving in 2011. If he doesn't, I doubt it'll be some big announcement but rather news will leak during the winter break and when the 2011 car is launched, Nick Heidfield will be standing there next to Rosberg. And then Schumacher will be comfortable in his mansion watching on the tele. Again.

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  • 19. At 8:21pm on 23 Jul 2010, Thedude wrote:

    Schu fans are deluded.

    He acheived brilliantly in the past when he designed the tyres and FIA rules and reg's etc but there is simply no way that this 'old man' can live with the new reg's and also the new breed of younger drivers.

    F1 is miles more competitive now, sorry but he has (and will continue) to tarnish his legacy.

    Personally that makes me happy and that magical thing called karma has come back to haunt him.


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  • 20. At 8:21pm on 23 Jul 2010, canary-neil wrote:

    I suppose after all those years of giving the media nothing to report upon other than continual success, it was inevitable that they would relish the opportunity to slate him at every opportunity. And this has been the case this year.

    Don't forget that Schumacher has lost only one thing this year. Luck. The one thing that any racing driver needs an element of.

    Harshly penalised in Monaco for a brilliant move on Alonso. But whilst Canada was described by Martin Brundle as the 'worst race of his career', it conveniently missed the fact that had been running as high as third in the race before pit stops. Likewise Valencia, Schumacher was fourth when he was called into the pits and then (wrongly?) held at the end of the pit lane during the safety car period. Had he been allowed to rejoin, a podium was a realistic possibilty. After all, don't forget what Kobayashi achieved in the Sauber in the same race. Australia was another case. Hit at the first corner and driving a damaged car for the rest of the race.

    But forget the media for a moment and look at this in greater detail. Silver livery aside, this is effectively the Brawn BGP 002, a car that was designed and built around Jenson Button. Schumacher was never to have driven this car and don't forget, he only signed for the team at Christmas.

    Even in modern times, that is absurdly late for a deal to be concluded and meant that Schumacher's influence in this car was always going to be minimal. The lack of testing also meant that if the car was a pup, and it is, there would be no way back this season. The best that the team could hope for was a couple of wins at the end of the season like McLaren did in 2009.

    Look further back at the team. For Mercedes, read Honda and BAR. 2004 aside, when did BAR ever produce a truly competitive car capable of competing at the front. Even after the 2004 heroics (second in the Constructors Championship), BAR fell badly behind in 2005.

    Honda ownership in 2006 brought a lucky win for Button when the championship contenders did everything possible to trip over their own feet in Hungary, but that was it, falling to new depths in 2007 and 2008. This was when they spent a whole year developing the all-conquering Brawn BGP 001. But in 2010, they have fallen back again. All this proves is that this team is not capable of year-on-year success.

    However, they will certainly be pumping all their efforts into the 2011 car. Which brings us to the drivers. Irrespective of results so far this year, who is it that the team will look to for direction? A driver who has won everything there is to win or a driver who has only had a small number of podium finishes and still NO WINS in five sewasons in the sport.

    We keep thinking back to Ferrari days, but remember the shambles that Ferrari was in 1996? After a year moulding the team, 1997 was a near-miss in championship terms, but the team never looked back.

    If Mercedes build a car to Schumacher's requirements and driving style, the future looks quite rosy and I wouldn't be surprised if they win an awful lot in 2011. Time will tell of course, but a good driver will always be a good driver. He just needs the tools to do the job.

    Going back to the media, I am absolutely disgusted by the media reaction to Schumacher, BBC included. You expect rubbish to be written in the papers, but some of the comments mad by the BBC team leave me astounded.

    Eddie Jordan's continual sniping is pointless and he seems to say what he thinks people want to hear, whilst Ted Kravitz can hardly hide his delight when Schumacher does run into trouble.

    I have to congratulate David Coulthard for actually being the fairest of the 'experts' in this whole discussion. After the history between Schumacher and Coulthard, you would think that he would like to settle a few onld scores, but has explained and reasoned admirably in Schumacher's defence. Well done, DC.

    I have to wonder, if it had been a British driver comping back after so long out, would the criticism have been so damning. I think not.

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  • 21. At 8:27pm on 23 Jul 2010, laustin88 wrote:

    This is the same unsubstantiated rubbish the BBC have been spouting all season. Get ready to eat your words in 2011. When can we have James Allen back?

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  • 22. At 8:41pm on 23 Jul 2010, helen cheshire wrote:

    Only 1 thing to say: Why did Brawn sign him? NOT his choice I'm sure. But when you sell out in this sport?????????????

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  • 23. At 9:02pm on 23 Jul 2010, Spain1996 wrote:

    'That pass on Fernando Alonso at the final corner in Monaco owed more to opportunism than outrageous talent, and, of course, was later penalised.'

    In my opinion that is an absolutely outrageous comment. The fact of the matter was that there were green flag conditions, and everybody else was racing too (why else would the lead car have stamped on the throttle?); if it had not been conveniently impossible for the FIA to investigate the incident I'm sure the penalty would have been taken away. Michael was the only one looking to grab the opportunity, something which contributed to his former greatness, and to make a move in formula 1 knowing you have only 1 corner (and it's at Monaco of all places) is a great achievement.

    It also seems hugely biased to me that any wheel banging he gets up to (eg Canada) is slated by the BBC, while when he is on the receiving end (eg the last race) it is a great move showing determination and exactly what we want to see in formula 1.

    Michael has demonstrated several times this year that he has lost none of his passion or aggression. His starts have been brilliant at every race, he has shown a great willingness to go toe to toe with all comers, and his reaction after getting out of the car at Monaco shows how he still relishes the fight.

    One final thought - maybe Michael doesn't actually care what people are writing about him? Every time he has been interviewed this year he has been grinning - even after tough races. He's loving just being in formula 1 again, he's nothing like slow enough to merit being sacked, the team are behind him - can't people just think that's fair enough?

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  • 24. At 9:10pm on 23 Jul 2010, sportmadgav wrote:

    Re #20 Canary Neil

    What utter twaddle, "a good driver will always be a good driver",...... what´s Stirling Moss doing these days? You've missed the whole point of the blog with that comment.

    And if it was a "British Driver" he would be getting doubly slated by the "fair and correct" British tabloids.

    Ps Blog comments should be restricted to 200 words. If you can't say what you want to in 200 words, better you don't say anything.

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  • 25. At 9:26pm on 23 Jul 2010, MacauBlue wrote:

    There are some very defensive comments for someone who is generally performing pretty poorly, especially after what seemed decent pace in pre-season testing and where he boasted "You haven't seen my qualifying pace yet".

    Erm… well, we're still waiting! If we were three or four races into the season and Schumacher had convincingly beaten Rosberg a couple of times I could imagine the furore from his fans… but half the season's gone already and as I suggested in an earlier post, he's getting trounced by a team-mate who hasn't even won a race in his career. Even if Schuey hadn't had the bad luck, as some have been suggested, the balance of power would still be in Rosberg's favour.

    Maybe the current Mercedes isn't designed around Schumacher, and neither was it designed around Nico – but great drivers are able to deal with things like that. Maybe Schuey will astound everyone in 2011 in a car designed completely around him… but I seriously doubt it.

    Schumacher may have won seven titles but he was already getting beaten on a regular basis by Alonso and Raikkonen by the time he retired. There were many factors in his 'glorious' past that just do not apply today, not least that currently there are half a dozen seriously talented young guys out there who will kill for a championship. That was never the case when Schumacher was dominant. Do you think they are just going to rollover for the Mighty Schu?

    Unless next year's Mercedes is a vastly superior machine I cannot see a snowball on a bonfire's chance of Schumacher winning another race, let alone a championship… and if Merc were to produce such a car, my money would be on Rosberg.

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  • 26. At 10:24pm on 23 Jul 2010, cordas wrote:

    If a little bit of luck had gone Schumacher's way rather than against him then its possible he could have had a podium or 2 this season.

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  • 27. At 10:52pm on 23 Jul 2010, John H wrote:

    It's simple. He cannot drive without TC and he is too old to learn.

    All this "it will take me 1 year to get into it" is absolutely rubbish. It didn't take Hamilton 1 year in 2007 to be on the pace, and he had never driven an F1 car, let alone won 7 world championships in one.

    Schumacher should not even be hired in 2011 IMHO.

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  • 28. At 00:17am on 24 Jul 2010, Ian A wrote:

    While Schumi's record is undoubtedly the best there is, he is now getting on a bit. Rosberg has beaten every teamate he has had, in much the same way that Button did, and he went many years/seasons without a win!
    The Merc is the fourth fastest car and, as has been pointed out, was designed with another 'lead' driver in mind. Rosberg has adapted to it. Button has adapted to the Mclaren and Kovy to the Lotus (albeit a bit behind the pack) while shumi has not. Barricello is the driver that proves the rule, in that he has managed to adapt despite the age, while Fisi last season couldn't get a grip on the Ferrari. It does seem that age has a bearing. Or maybe Rosberg is better than some here give him credit for!

    As for Hamilton v Button, I guess we'll have to wait until further into the season, or maybe even the end of it, before we get a definitive answer!

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  • 29. At 01:20am on 24 Jul 2010, ManOfScience wrote:

    MacauBlue:

    Schumacher may or may not win consistently (or ever) in his comeback. However your attempts to tar his glory years are pathetic and plainly mean-spirited, in addition to being nonsensical. Consider the following:

    1) His career coincided with Hakkinen. If you think Hakkinen, whom experts rate as among the great ones, is somehow inferior to the current crop, please elucidate why.

    2) His career overlapped Raikkonen's by several years. Raikkonen won only after Schumacher left, and don't forget, beat Hamilton and Alonso in the process.

    3) He spanked current contenders Webber and Button, who admittedly were in inferior machinery. But that is a two-edged argument. After all, Schumacher in the early Ferrari years won with pretty inferior machinery competing against Hakkinen.

    4) In 2006, at age 36, he lost the championship to Alonso at the last race, with a Ferrari that was inferior to the Renault of that year's vintage. (Oh you have to consider the fact that the Ferrari of 2005 on Bridgestone tires was an absolute dog, if you are going to argue car superiority in some of the earlier years)

    You could argue he did not race long against Senna, although he was beating Senna in the last few races. But Senna's death is hardly Schumacher's fault, and you could play historical what-if games till you are blue in the face, and establish not a gnat's navel amount of anything.

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  • 30. At 01:37am on 24 Jul 2010, canary-neil wrote:

    Re post #24 sportmadgav

    You are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine.

    "What is Stirling Moss doing now?". What an infantile comment to make. It has nothing to do with who is and isn't racing nowadays.

    Were Fangio, Mansell, Stewart, Hakkinen and Moss, come to that, suddenly bad racing drivers after they left the sport? Of course not. Schumacher has decided to take on the young guns and should be applauded for that.

    By the way, the last example of somebody returning to the sport after a while out was Mansell in '94/'95. When he left McLaren after two races, there was not the character assassination in the tabloids that Schumacher is getting now.

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  • 31. At 02:04am on 24 Jul 2010, LevelHeaded_1 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 32. At 02:04am on 24 Jul 2010, deepwater330 wrote:

    JL reveals how two engineers have concluded the truth of the situation claiming, in support of their view that MS is past it that, "Both sources have completed sports science studies which showed how a sportsman's reflexes deteriorated from his late thirties onwards,"

    Sport's science eh? Isn't that the same as comparing the study of human physiology and medicine to that of media studies versus English language, literature and theatre? In other words a study, comparatively, of shallow academic value? In fact, if their conclusion is as rigid as described it sounds more as if they've made a study of, "reaching sweeping conclusions".

    Doubtless the reflex responses of MS have deteriorated compared to his younger days but the starting point of this comparison is a key factor. Coupled with decent response times, which, let’s face it, most F1 drivers have, a very major contributor to Schumacher's success has been his ability to multi task under stress at a consistently high intellectual level. This crucial factor emerged from a specific study of these attributes in MS carried out a few years ago (and indeed aired on the BBC).

    Our sports scientists ought to look it up sometime!

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  • 33. At 02:05am on 24 Jul 2010, stumm wrote:

    First we got told that he needed more time to adjust to the new regs and to wait until China, China passed by and then we got told the car didn't suit his driving style and to wait for the updates, then the updates came and we were told he's struggling with the tyres. Even Ross Brawn has finally given up on the Schumacher excuses.

    The old Schumacher would be on the limit within 10-20 laps no matter what the regs/tyres. Any great driver who still has the ability/talent can adapt his style to suit any car.

    Schumacher achieved his successes in an era when the competition was weak and TC was paramount. He is now just an average F1 driver driving in the shadows of a glorius past.



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  • 34. At 08:37am on 24 Jul 2010, cordas wrote:

    Who told us we needed to wait till China? Schumi himself said that he would need half a season, most of the old drivers who commented said he will need at least half a season. For me using a bit of rational thought and common sense thought he would need at least half a season....

    Yes he has had a few duff races this season, but then so has Alonso. Schumi has made a few mistakes that have ruined his races, but then so has Alonso, Schumi has been badly affected by stewards decisions that were 'controversial', but then so has Alonso.... I have yet to hear anyone saying that Alonso is too old, hasn't got it, should stop disgracing his legacy.....

    I just feel that anyone who appreciates the sport without wearing blinkers or who has more than a superficial knowledge of the sport and actually judges the sport by on track performance rather than just points finishes can see that Schumi has been unlucky in more than a few races, has had some good and some bad moments. What he hasn't had yet is the kind of good luck that allows him to drive beyond his car's capabilities and revel in glory, now that might be because he 'has lost it' but really I still think its too early to tell.

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  • 35. At 08:38am on 24 Jul 2010, DJDehal wrote:

    I wonder if anyone has actually considered that he may well be just trying to compete as much as he can currently, without compromising his car and having to forfeit a race. He is normally a very aggressive driver who takes plenty of risks, but if he did that this season, he may well have lost valuable time on track to familiarize himself with both his car, the tracks and the technology (particularly the lack of driver aids). I do believe this is what he is doing. It's pure genius, given he's been away for 3yrs, plus this year's car is well behind the likes of McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault, Force-India and even Williams.

    He is a shadow of his "former self" and in no shape to compete this season. Who would honestly risk it being in his situation. You complain about his performances but he is still in the top 10 in the standings, above his former team-mate (Barichello) who arguably has a slightly better car. Surely thats satisfactory for now. Wait til next season to see if he can or cannot produce the goods or not.

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  • 36. At 09:16am on 24 Jul 2010, Mrs Treacher wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 37. At 09:23am on 24 Jul 2010, thecough181 wrote:

    41 years old and took a three-year hiatus from the sport. How journalists keep stretching this story is beyond me. Was anyone actually surprised that he's not quite as competitive as before? One or two better results (Turkey and Spain) suggest that the talent is there still but without the physical ability to back it up. Whilst I'm sure the ultra competitive Schumacher might be disappointed his points tally (7 more than Rubens) is fantastic considering the challenges he's faced trying to get back into the car.

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  • 38. At 09:46am on 24 Jul 2010, Rich wrote:

    Well it is nice to have an objective view on things instead of ill considered off the cuff criticism from your fellow BBC pundits. Who have been extremely short sighted on this issue and just taken things at face value and made a judgement on that basis without assessing things. Bad show. I expect a much better standard of analysis to be honest.

    No disrespect to barrichello but the fact that he was ahead of Schumacher at silverstone and faster than him in arguably a slower car indicates something is seriously wrong with schumacher and it is not just rosberg out performing him. barrichello "struggled like a pig" in 2006 with his move to Honda from Ferrari and the transition to very different Michelin tyres. It took him the whole year to get over the problem.

    Nobody criticized barrichello as much as they do schumacher now, instead they listened to what barrichello had to say about his problems, people understood and left it at that. They did not criticize him every race for being off the pace compared to his team mate. The criticism schumacher gets is relentless and unforgiving for having the same problem but with no testing to resolve it. Yes there is high expectation of Schumacher from fans and pundits alike but sadly this has influenced certain professional people to make overly harsh comments and opinions.it is very disappointing,

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  • 39. At 10:01am on 24 Jul 2010, MacauBlue wrote:

    ManOfScience

    I don't need to tar Schuey's glory years, there were, shall we say things that 'fell into place' conveniently which allowed him and Ferrari to dominate… and in my first post I listed SOME of them. They're not figments of my imagination.

    1) If I misled you into thinking that I don't rate Hakkinen, I apologise. Actually I rated him higher than Schuey but things didn't go his way often enough. I was merely illustrating the fact that he was the only genuine contender, whereas today there are many. I think today's crop of top drivers will be equal to any 'golden' era in F1… but that's my opinion.

    2) I mention in a later post (25) that Raikkonen beat Schumacher several times and could have done more if his Mercedes didn't keep blowing up… so Alonso became the main man, so to speak.

    3) I did say that Schumacher has genuine greatness… and I alluded to many wins in an inferior car due to the massive help of Ross Brawn's 'genius'. As for spanking Button and Webber, as you say, they were in inferior machinery and out of the current crop of great drivers I wouldn't put either at the very top of the list.

    4)Well, Alonso should have walked that championship but if memory serves me well there was controversy that year as Ferrari did everything in their power to de-stabalise Renault with the F damper scenario which clearly handicapped the car in the second-half of the season. Also, Alonso was penalised for 'holding up' Ferrari's Massa in qualifying at Monza… still to date one of the most ridiculous penalties seen in F1. Add to that Alonso's mechanical failures and it looked a lot closer than it should have been.

    About Senna's death, I was merely pointing out that he was the only 'great' on the grid at the time when Schumacher was first capable of winning the championship. Hakkinen went on to become one but I've explained that above.

    F1 is a complicated business with a lot more 'hidden' than many fans realise. Schumacher is undoubtedly a great – he won seven championships, which cannot be ignored… but he had an awful lot of 'help'.

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  • 40. At 10:42am on 24 Jul 2010, Leif wrote:

    I notice at Damone Hill and David Culthard using there opportunities til at head banging Michel Schumacher. its easier to do it on this side what you where not able to do on the racing track, am I right or wrong David and Damon????????

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  • 41. At 11:50am on 24 Jul 2010, LevelHeaded_1 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 42. At 12:01pm on 24 Jul 2010, cordas wrote:

    @40, really? I would say that Schumi has received the most support in the press from Hill and Coultard... They have been the ones defending him against the short sighted 'headline grabbing' attacks that have repeatedly reared their ugly and inconsequential heads.

    Oh don't bring up the Moncao incident to try and label Hill as attacking Schumi from his position as steward... the problem was the rules were badly drafted regarding bringing in the safety car on the last lap, and further confounded by the rigidity and irrationality of the penalty system when it comes to poor regulations. Drivers getting punished because of bad regs is a problem of the regs not the stewards who have to follow said badly drafted regs.

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  • 43. At 4:30pm on 24 Jul 2010, cordas wrote:

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  • 44. At 5:51pm on 24 Jul 2010, EthanX wrote:

    The way I see it as a Schumacher fan , he will never be the driver he was when he was younger or at his absolute peak ... He's abit older now so that levels out the playing field for his competetion ... The old Schumacher , or should I say younger Schumacher, never got beatten by his teamate .... Even when he came back after his 99 accident after missing most of the season, his qualifying times and race pace destroyed Irvine's and left the McLarens in the dust in Malaysia ....

    The old Schumacher won with lesser quicker cars - Now he REALLY needs the best car to win ...

    If Schumacher had a red-bull this season , he'd probably be leading the championship.. And there would be no doubts about his previous achievements ... That's like taking a 41 year old Michael Jordan and making him play with guys half his age.. and saying : ''You see, Jordan was never really that good '' .... would that make any sence ??

    And to end - where is the scientific data out there that proves that this current crop of new drivers are somehowe better or faster than previous generations ? WHERE IS THIS DATA TO PROVE DRIVERS OF TODAY ARE BETTER THAN BEFORE ? There is none !

    The two fastest drivers that F1 has ever seen are : Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher - I would also put Mika Hakkinen in there aswell ...

    So pretend we could take the top drivers Schumacher faced in his heyday and put them teamates against the top drivers of Today :

    Hamilton VS Hakkinen
    Alonso VS Hill
    Vettel VS Villeneuve
    Webber VS Raikkonen
    Button VS Brundle
    Kubica VS Montoya

    Now , your telling me these new drivers would wipe the floor VS the Old guys ? I don't think so ... Only the British would say that Hamilton would be faster than Hakkinnen ! Heck to even say Alonso is the current best driver on the grid is pretty delusional knowing that Trulli was most of the time quicker than him when they were paired up at Renault ...




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  • 45. At 6:25pm on 24 Jul 2010, monstermax22 wrote:

    Legard can be a bit silly at times. On the one hand, he slates Schumacher for lacking champion form, whilst acknowledging that he has had several years out and is struggling to adapt to the new narrower front tyres. Well, surely he's answered his own question!! The principal reason Schumacher's form is in the spot light, some bad luck and car issues to one side, is that certain aspects of the media are putting it there. Also, one or two ex-drivers, who really should know better and could, concievably envy the guy's achievements and that they themselves will never the chance of comeback - becuase they frankly weren't good enoug then - can't resist a bit of Schumacher-bashing, so its seems anyway. I am certain they will eat their words before the season is out.

    As far as I'm concerned, this guy has nothing whatsoever to prove, his racecraft is as it ever was (just watch him), but he will need time. Sure, he may not be as out and out quick as he once was - they all tend to slow down a bit - but if the car is right, he will fly and its clear that at the present time, the car is not right quite right. Its hardly as though Rosberg is tearing up the tarmac with the same car and that is someone who, to my mind, is every bit a big prospect as Vettell and Kubica.

    Also, don't forget he's returned to a greater number of high quality oponents than was ever the case in his previous career. Post Senna, he was only ever really bothered by two - Hakkinnen and more recently, Alonso. Give him some time, he's surely earned that much.

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  • 46. At 6:39pm on 24 Jul 2010, Srobify wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 47. At 7:58pm on 24 Jul 2010, captainj84 wrote:

    the car is the problem not michael, the team were complacent after last season victory, now they have had a kick up the backside and are focussing on 2011 now, so dont expect anything special from michael this season. i strongly think michael will be challenging for the championship next season. he has been unlucky in a few races which is a shame because it would be great to see him on the podium. lets be honest if he was in the brawngp car he would have won the championship in far better style than jenson, just my opinion! a final point, the press are saying he is past his best etc etc, in ten races he has had 4 top ten finshes thats 40%!!!! now what does that say about the 14 men behind him? btw don't think i'm a deluded shumi fan, i disliked him for years now i'm impartial towards him, WEBBER for the championship!!!!

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  • 48. At 8:53pm on 24 Jul 2010, dougd22 wrote:

    Truth of the matter is; the press and fans are fickle creatures who have very short-term memories when it comes to sport. Jenson Button is now a British icon and regarded as one of the best drivers on the grid. I don't recall people seeing him in that way when he was getting blitzed on a weekly basis by Villneuve and Fisi. The same thing could be said of Mark Webber. Why are they now so well-rated? Quite clearly, its because they have the equipment and Schumacher doesn't. Who knows, that might change next year.

    Schumacher's 'struggle' this year has been over-emphasised by the media looking for an easy story. People decide to ignore the fact that he's just come back after three years into a sport that's much changed and a car that's barely good enough for the third row. Let's not forget either that Rosberg's been in F1 about the same length of time Schumacher was away.

    Mercedes will be a team to watch next year. There is no better driver out there in terms of developing a car that Schumacher and Ross Brown is a fantastic team leader. Mercedes will be pouring lots of money and expertise into this team in a bid to relive past glories so don't be surprised if Rosberg and Schumacher become serious title contenders.

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  • 49. At 9:15pm on 24 Jul 2010, maria cardoso wrote:

    Like one of the other comentators said not too long ago .. GET OFF SCHUMACHER'S BACK ! It is quite possible that Schumi has lost his reflexes, it is quite possible that he no longer is the force he used to be in 2006 etc etc. But the point is -- you havent given us much time to find out, now have you? Everyone on the grid has grown with the car and the new tyres ... whilst Schumi was taking a long 3,5 year holiday! I have no doubt that if testing was permitted, Schumi would be out there putting in long hours on the track making sure he learnt FAST. So, how about dedicating your beautiful prose to the other drivers who, every now and then, dont do so well themselves ... there are a few of them in the top 6, with top cars - not the 3 legged donkey Michael is doing his best to dominate and improve. And do you honestly believe that Nico is doing THAT much better ? I dont think so.

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  • 50. At 07:41am on 25 Jul 2010, cordas wrote:

    48. At 8:53pm on 24 Jul 2010, dougd22 wrote:

    Jenson Button is now a British icon and regarded as one of the best drivers on the grid. I don't recall people seeing him in that way when he was getting blitzed on a weekly basis by Villneuve

    ----

    Errr.... Really? The results seem to tell a slightly different story. When Jenson signed for BAR Jac went and shot his mouth off about how poor a driver Jenson was and how he was going to thrash him, Jenson only made one statement in return and that was he was going to do his fighting on the track... and went on to demolish Jac so bad... it was widely believed at the time this was a major factor in why Jac quit before the end of that season after being humiliated by Jenson.... a driver who Jac didn't rate at all.

    Comparing Jenson to Fisi is a bit hard since they were driving for Beneton at the time and like every Flavio team they could only provide one reliable/ competitive car and the other was a dog only on track to make up the numbers.... which is the car Jenson was driving.

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  • 51. At 09:45am on 25 Jul 2010, ian2424 wrote:

    OK, so you want to give Schumacher a hard time. Would you give Coulthard as much stick were he to make a comeback? No, 'cos he's not German!
    Wait and see, and then prepare to apologise... we haven't seen Schumi's "A" game yet this season, apart from when he was robbed at Monaco!
    Incidently, IMO Martin Brundle and DC are excellently informed and very experienced in F1 and make unbiased and common sense comments... shame about the others!

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  • 52. At 10:20am on 25 Jul 2010, TennisEquality wrote:

    "Both sources have completed sports science studies which showed how a sportsman's reflexes deteriorated from his late thirties onwards."

    So the men who compete in the Red Bull air races should be crashing every week then Jonathan? After all they are considerably older than Schumacher and I would hazard a guess that they pull more g's too... Are you sure your "sources" completed their studies, or did you just say that to try and some weight to your own opinion? Dear me, the BBC Sport bloggers are getting VERY lazy :(

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  • 53. At 10:36am on 25 Jul 2010, cordas wrote:

    51. At 09:45am on 25 Jul 2010, ian2424 wrote:

    OK, so you want to give Schumacher a hard time. Would you give Coulthard as much stick were he to make a comeback?

    ROFLMAO, which is what I expect would happen should DC attempt a F1 come back... seriously do you think Eddie et al would do anything but laugh and take the Michael? I don't think the reason that they are attacking Schumi has anything to do with his nationality, but more out of a desperate desire to jump on the hype bandwagon....

    Just one question will you apologise and say that they were right IF Schumi doesn't win anything? Or will you just make excuses that he didn't have the right car?

    Personally I do think Schumi is still a great driver, and I do expect to see him climbing the podium again, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him fighting for and maybe clinching that 8th world title, if he keeps his drive past the end of this season.

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  • 54. At 11:43am on 25 Jul 2010, Srobify wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 55. At 5:07pm on 25 Jul 2010, schumi4eva wrote:

    Why don't people just lay off Michael for a change and applaud him for having the balls to come back? It just goes to show that he can't sit at home and twiddle his fingers in retirement....he's a racer and he's come back to what he clearly loves doing. Ok he's not doing so well at the moment. But is that any surprise when the package he's been given isn't entirely up to scratch? Compared to Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari they're simply uncompetitive. It seems that Mercedes have given up on improvements for this years car and are looking to 2011. How is that Michael's fault that he's trying to flog a dead horse? Ross Brawn is a master in the paddock and I think he would give the very best to Michael if he could to help him be right up there with the others. As for qualifying and coming second to Nico, I'm sure that has much to do with him not being used to the mercedes management of his side of the garage. He's used to having a team built around him, for him...plus no testing? pah! I think as person he's changed...you can see that in the interviews he gives. He's definately softened. Personally I've never had a problem with his attitude - arrogance is what gave him 7 world championships after all lol Leave him alone...he's a legend!!

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  • 56. At 04:04am on 26 Jul 2010, George Manont wrote:

    .



    Oh, Michael,


    He's still as what he was , may be wiser. Just maybe !


    BTW,few things have changed while he was gone ;

    1. Younger drivers drive better
    2. Newer race cars, race better
    3. Jean Todt & Rubens left Ferrari, no more radio on last lap , " Let Michael pass for championship "


    Please recheck the above facts.


    GM.



    .

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  • 57. At 07:46am on 26 Jul 2010, AtFoolChat wrote:

    shumacher fans... your dreams over...WAKE UP and smell the coffee...he's done

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  • 58. At 12:54pm on 27 Jul 2010, Steve wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 59. At 2:18pm on 27 Jul 2010, Steve wrote:

    Is it not about time that Jonathan Legard stops giving information that is not related to the live action which BBC F1 fans switch on to watch,, I love the sport as I am sure most who watch do, but to endure his personal opinions and reels of historic data makes viewing somewhat sleepy, is his job not to tell us the info that we can't see while the race is on and keep us posted regarding the live data that he has before him? Martin Brundel has a fare wider range of experience to recall from yet he is to the point hitting the facts as they are presented.

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  • 60. At 4:15pm on 31 Jul 2010, dry wrote:

    PLEASE LEAVE POOR MICHEAL ALONE AFTER ALL HE IS 41 AND THE GUYS HES RACING ARE HALF HIS AGE COME ON GIVE THE GUY A BREAK

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  • 61. At 3:28pm on 01 Aug 2010, blunnbottle3 wrote:

    I said at the start of the session Schu had nothing to prove, and his reputation would only go down" hill".
    He should be banned before some one gets killed

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  • 62. At 00:19am on 03 Aug 2010, Timmy-worksop wrote:

    I don't think that schumi has lost his edge at all, he is still getting up to his old tricks like 1994 with Damon hill, then 1997 with Jacques Villeneuve & now Rubens. Same old stuff just a different day. He should have his F1 licence removed.

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