Michael Schumacher: Protecting The Myth

Antony HerbertAnalyst IIISeptember 29, 2009

SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 27:  Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari drives during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 27, 2009 in Singapore.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Ferrari’s handling of the Massa situation has been somewhat of a failure thus far. With the Brazilian unfortunately forced out of action it was left for Ferrari to find a suitable replacement.

After the surprising announcement of Schumacher’s glorious return was undone by a neck injury sustained on motorbikes Luca Badoer first stepped into the seat. His immediate relegation to the back of the pack however was disastrous.

The underwhelming return for the aging driver resulted in Giancarlo Fisichella fulfilling his boyhood dream of driving for the Tifosi.

Yet this transfer from a vastly improved Force India team left him trailing and unable to perform at a level worthy of his talents.

He may confess that a lack of results will do nothing to make him regret his decision, but it seems a catastrophic choice may have provided the climax to his lengthy career.

The lack of pace seen in both Italian drivers partly needs to be blamed on the in season testing ban. With no ability to gain exposure to the way a car handles, and no opportunity to push the cars to the absolute limit a lack of confidence and competitive action has emerged.  

Fisichella also seems to have visible trouble adapting to the car itself and mainly its accompanying Kers system. Such an understated performance has made Badoer’s tragic resurrection look slightly less hopeless, although still resembling the consequence of a clumsy team decision.

Has it therefore been a blessing in disguise for the world of Formula 1 that the sports most successful driver was forced to decline a return to the track?

As in hindsight had the injury sustained on two wheels saved Michael Schumacher from an embarrassing comeback which would have done much to undo the spectacular dominance and record breaking feats created throughout his illustrious career?

Fisichella was always a weaker driver in comparison to Schumacher, but he had the opportunity this season to find his feet with the new regulations behind a Formula 1 car through Force India.

Badoer also benefited in pre-season testing to gain experience in the original 2009 Ferrari.

Yet Michael Schumacher, talented as he may be, would have surely delved into the realm of the relatively unknown in his comeback. A near perfect form book did not guarantee a successful final display of speed and agility.

Many revelled in the prospect of his return, expecting a proven champion to return to form and put the younger generation to the test. You somehow feel now though that a midfield battle was the best that Schumacher could have hoped for and that a forgettable footnote was all he could add to the years of history he had once created.

So maybe in his inability to return to a sport defined in modern history by his on track heroics he maintained the most important definition of all; that he is the worlds greatest.