It must bring great relief to Norbert Haug and Ross Brawn that the man to whom they are reportedly paying more than £20 million (US $30 million) per year (according to the UK Daily Mail)—and who has yet to set foot on the podium in the 45 races since his return—is keeping the faith with the goose that lays the golden egg.
It’s a statement borne either of extreme arrogance or a self-confidence that those of us who lead normal lives can never hope to understand
Schumacher’s record is unsurpassed.
Statistically, he is the greatest driver ever to park his backside in a Formula 1 car (yes, there are drivers with better conversion rates, but everywhere else he’s clearly out in front), but his star has faded.
This year, he has suffered from reliability issues and, as a result, has only managed to complete two of the seven races this season, and finished 10th in those.
Schumacher points out that F1 cars are essentially prototypes and reliability issues are the norm. However, that clearly hasn’t been the case since the FIA have made their rule changes limiting the number of engines and gearboxes available for the season.
That being said, it’s difficult to explain how he could be held responsible for loss of fuel pressure, a faulty DRS, a loose wheel nut or dodgy gearbox.
Despite that, Schumacher simply hasn’t been really competitive since his return. There have been glimpses of the Schumi of old, perhaps unfortunately it has been most notable when he ran Barrichello up against the wall in Hungary or the very wide Mercedes he drove around Monza.
While he did secure pole position in Monaco, he was penalised for his collision in Spain, where he collected Bruno Senna. Even his one highlight was tinged with disappointment.
Sadly, the blindingly fast Michael Schumacher hasn’t returned.
The man who took the Mercedes predecessor to a world championship in 2009, Jenson Button, came to Schumacher’s defence.
F1Times.com quotes Button as saying, "Sometimes it takes time to feel comfortable with a car and comfortable with the people you're working with."
That excuse might have worked for the first half of 2010, but Schumacher has had more than two years since his comeback, and more races in that period than Alberto Ascari, Nino Farina and Lorenzo Bandini had in their entire careers.
Team principal Brawn has hinted that it’s up to Schumacher as to whether he continues his career past the end of his contract, which expires at the end of the season.
Brawn has gone further to say that although Schumacher’s renewal will be based on performance, they’re happy with how he’s going.
F1Times.com quotes Brawn,
After his accident in Barcelona, Michael was very unhappy, but after qualifying in Monaco he was very happy. I think basically the positive feelings outweigh the negative this season. With the pole position, Michael showed what he is still capable of, so there is no reason for us to not want to continue with him.
You’d have to suspect that Schumacher’s continued position at Mercedes has more to with marketing and relying on his record than any real expectation of him winning a race.
If that’s what they’re looking for, then good luck to them, but it’s hard to imagine that Ferrari’s Luca di Montezemolo or Red Bull’s Dietrich Mateschitz would put up with it.
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