Ever since it became evident that the Michael Schumacher of 2010-2011 does not have the winning ways of the pre-retirement Schumi, I have assumed that the determined German must be secretly suffering inside. Now it seems he's admitted that he's disappointed in the way his return to Formula One is going.
"The big joy is not there right now," Schumacher said to BBC Sport.
The talented driver with many racing records under his belt must have grown accustomed to great joy on many occasions. I couldn't imagine that he'd not be suffering silently under the burdens of loss and frustration he's experienced since his return to F1. He also suffered some failures in motorcycle racing during his hiatus.
Prior to his 2006 retirement, Michael Schumacher racked up 91 Grand Prix victories and seven World Drivers' Championships. Now driving for Mercedes—with his former Ferrari associate-in-success Ross Brawn as team boss—Schumi is more or less in the dumper.
His teammate—25-year-old Nico Rosberg (son of former F1 great Keke Rosberg)—has bested Michael in almost three-quarters of the races they've started together. Into the bargain, Rosberg has qualified better than Schumacher on 19 of the 23 races as teammates. Most recently in the Turkish Grand Prix, Rosberg qualified third, a full second ahead of Schumi's 8th grid slot, . At the end of the race in Istanbul, Rosberg stands 10th in the championship with 20 points, while Michael stands 11th with just 6 points.
Even Schumacher admits to culpability in a collision with Vitaly Petrov's just after the start in Turkey.
Petrov clearly had the position, and this observer believes that Schumacher was filled with frustration at his apparent inability to be competitive—especially in the face of his young teammate's pace in the twin car. Petrov ran over the Mercedes' front wing and carried on while Michael fled to the pits for a new nose for his car. He returned for tires, and again, and again, as if hoping he could improve his performance by changing things where the rubber meets the road.
After the race in Istanbul, Schumacher said, "I need to analyse it. It was a bit strange that suddenly we got together and I lost my front wing. The race was a given from there—lots of fighting, lots of action, but for nothing.
"From where we came [on the grid], going forward is better than still having to defend backwards and mostly I was able to go forward."
Former team owner Eddie Jordan believes Michael Schumacher should re-evaluate his future, while F1 commentator, David Coulthard—former driver at Williams, McLaren, and Red Bull, in competition with the 7 time champion for 12 years—said:
"I don't think we should write Michael off by any stretch of the imagination—there's a lot of talent there—but he must be asking himself questions.
I think the key thing is he's not enjoying it, and to be perfectly open and honest with you, there was an element of that for me at the beginning of 2008.
I wasn't as competitive as I felt I should be, I wasn't enjoying the races as much as I used to and then that's the moment.
It slowly builds until you look in the mirror and realise that feeling you've been having for a few weeks or months is the internal message. You can't hold back the clock."