Time To Take The Back Seat
When Michael Schumacher returned to F1 with Mercedes the predictions of how he would fare were many and diverse.
Some thought he was too old and would fail, while others were of the opinion that the old master would show the newer kids on the block a thing or two.
Nobody, least of all this writer, predicted that Schumacher would be fired and replaced with Lewis Hamilton.
And yet that remarkable turn of events has come to pass.
Mercedes have become disillusioned with Schumacher. The old god they worshiped proved not to have divine race-winning powers, and so they have turned to a new idol.
Hamilton has become disillusioned with McLaren's ability to consistently put a race-winning car around him. His loyalty to his benefactors no doubt weakened by the prospect of improved earnings, he has jumped ship.
For Schumacher, left to chew on the bitter ashes of humiliation, this must be a painful experience. Will he even bother to finish the 2012 F1 season? It would be more than understandable if he just walked away now. Or drove away, but not in a Mercedes.
And the big winners in all of this?
Definitely Sergio Perez, an obviously gifted driver, because he has got the move to a top team he needed.
And possibly Felipe Massa is a winner, because the Mexican sword hanging over his head has been removed.
Time will tell if Lewis Hamilton has made a shrewd move, or if he has only gold-plated his inevitable passage to the F1 exit door. Indeed, there is no guarantee that Mercedes will even be in F1 in a few years, for it is not their business.
For Lewis Hamilton's fans, those who have given him their unqualified support through some dark times, the news of his move to Mercedes will not be greeted with delight.
It will inevitably damage if not destroy their belief in him, and if their interest declines the sport may come to regret the strain of their F1 disillusion.