Nearly everyone in the Formula 1 community has ventured an opinion on Michael Schumacher’s comeback effort in 2010, and former F1 driver (and Schumi team mate) Martin Brundle is no exception. Speaking at the Autosport International Show recently, Brundle said, “I have no problem with him coming back. He was bouncing down the track after falling off his Superbike for the 12th time. What is the point of killing himself on a Superbike? You might as well go back.”
Brundle, how is now lead F1 commentator for the BBC, also took issue with those who have criticized Schumacher for coming back to the sport after a three-year absence. “I respect him for coming back,” Brundle said. “He had the opportunity and that is what he wanted to do at the end of the day. It cannot be right or wrong – and people are too judgmental on that.”
Brundle also echoed four-time champ Alain Prost in saying that Schumi’s mistake wasn’t in making a comeback; rather, it was in how he set public expectations for his performance. Said Brundle, “The mistake I think Michael made was before the start of the season when he said, ‘I only do winning world championships, that is why I am here’. He set the bar too high for himself. He ought to have said, ‘these are young chargers, I will do my best, we’ll see how far I get and I will support Nico and the team [to] try and go win some races’. I think then he could have come at it from a different direction.”
Recent remarks from Mercedes honcho Ross Brawn have hinted that the Merc squad is, in fact, thinking of reframing Schumi’s effort, emphasizing his contribution to the development of the car and the team over his sheer competitive skills.
Jody Scheckter, 1979 F1 champ (the last title-winner for Ferrari prior to Schumi), who was also present at the event, chimed in to give a realistic appraisal of Schumacher’s motivation for coming back: “From his point of view it is a good decision. Before that he was on the pit wall trying to look busy and, you know, if you don’t find something to do after racing F1, never mind where he was in F1, it is very tough.”
Sir Jackie Stewart said much the same thing (actually, as is typical of Stewart, he said it a number of times, to whomever would listen), when he offered the opinion that Schumacher had retired too soon, well before he’d gotten racing out of his system. Some have said that Schumacher was nudged out of the team to make way for Kimi Raikkonen (who, ironically, was pushed out of the Ferrari nest to make way for current de facto lead driver Fernando Alonso). Schumacher, however, has said that he could have stayed on with the Scuderia, if he’s wanted; that, in fact, it would have been Felipe Massa who would’ve been given his walking papers, not the German.
Conversely, some of Schumacher’s critics have suggested that Schumi was intimidated by the prospect of teaming with the Kimster, who, at one time, was considered to be the fastest driver in open-wheeled motor sport (hard to believe, isn’t it?). Schumi has rubbished that idea, and we’ll have to take his word for that, as only Schumacher and his analyst would know for certain.
In my opinion, Schumacher was suffering from burn out, and also didn’t want to see his chum Massa bounced from the team. If Schumacher was brave enough to return from the sport after a three-year layoff, and face down young guns such as Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg, not to mention Massa, then it’s hard to imagine that he would have been worried at the prospect of sharing a garage with the likes of Kimi Raikkonen.
In any event, take a peek at the video below. Both Brundle and Scheckter have some interesting comments to make.