Do you think Michael Schumacher has any regrets about making a comeback? Much has been said, and much of it negative, about Schumi’s return to active racing at the pinnacle of motorsport. Such greats of earlier eras as Sterling Moss, Jackie Stewart and even Niki “the Rat” Lauda have suggested that Schumi’s comeback has been a colossal blunder, and that he’s currently doing nothing but tarnishing his reputation.
It’s true, the seven-time world champ did set the bar fairly high when he announced his return to the fray. He didn’t simply say he was joining Mercedes to help them develop the car; no, he said he was out to win another title.
And why not? This is the stuff that champions are made of. Perhaps he might have finessed the PR angle a bit more, but Schumacher relishes a challenge, and it’s highly unlikely that he would have made his return to F1 if all he’d expected from himself was a mediocre performance.
Clearly, he’s had to reset expectations for this year, both for himself, and for the Merc squad as a whole. Even with the bar set officially lower, there are some who say that if he doesn’t start winning races this year he ought to call it a day and exit his contract early. I think this is pure rubbish. In fact, I would say, if anything, Schumacher’s current struggles, and those of the team as a whole, have probably given him the opportunity to rediscover what he really loves about the sport.
No champ likes to simply make up the numbers, but Schumacher has always been a methodical workhorse who loves the entire process of fielding an F1 car: the testing, the development, plotting out strategies with Ross Brawn, and, of course, the actual race weekends. Winning or not, this is what Schumi was missing during his premature retirement.
He had a taste of being a suburban layabout, and he didn’t care for it much. It wasn’t long before he was out racing superbikes, and nearly breaking his neck. This was a man who clearly wasn’t ready to give up racing.
So I say that fans and critics alike should lay off the Uber-racer, and let him get on with the job. As long as he’s reasonably competitive, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t continue racing until he’s ready for his pension.