Michael Schumacher has never suffered from a shortage of critics, either in his earlier incarnation as seven-time champ and all around wunderkind, or in his latest iteration as a middle-aged comeback kid trying to recover the form of his youth.
Certain paddock wags nowadays continue to urge Schumi to throw in the towel before he thoroughly tarnishes his reputation. Sterling Moss and Jackie Stewart are two luminaries who have volubly offered to take up contributions for a Schumacher Re-retirement Fund.
Personally, I’ve never understood the logic of this. How can you tarnish a career that has already been memorialized in the record books? It’s not as if every eighth place finish that Schumi racks up this year will subtract from the total number of points her earned when he was younger.
And so where is the tarnish? Does Schumacher really need to prove that he’s the same driver he was 20 years ago? I think the answer is clearly no, regardless of what Sterling “Never-Got-to-Be World-Champ” Moss has to say about it.
Clearly, Schumacher has as much competitive drive as ever, and certainly he would love to be winning; but, that said, I think it’s also obvious that he didn’t return to racing merely to add to his stats totals. He made a comeback because he missed racing.
Schumacher recently answered some of this critics by telling Bunte that he fully intended to see out his contract, which expires at the end of next year. And then what? There has bee gossip that Merc might want to extend the deal. It now seems that this is half true.
Recognizing and admitting that time has begun to catch up with him, Schumi said, “Forty-two [years old] is not the same as 25.” It’s evident that he finally sees a goodbye to his active driving years on the horizon. But to this, he added, “I will fulfill my three year contract with Mercedes and afterwards work as a representative of the brand.”
Obviously a long-term game plan has been in the works all along. Schumi will once again be a roving ambassador for a car manufacturer, although this time, instead of touting the spaghetti red of Maranello, he’ll be showcasing the gleaming Silver Arrows of Stuttgart.
Who can blame him for wanting to squeeze as much racing out of his career as possible before he returns to the grueling (ahem) world of car marketing.