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The Return of Schumi the Wrecker: Michael Schumacher Has Had Enough

Craig ChristopherAnalyst IJune 14, 2010

MONTREAL - JUNE 13:  Michael Schumacher of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 13, 2010 in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

There’s no such thing as a dull Canadian Grand Prix, and 2010 was no exception to that rule.

It was a cracking race from start to finish and had everything that F1 fans love about the sport. There was overtaking, strategy, tyre problems, and lots and lots of aggression.

Best of all, we got to see the return of an old friend—Schumi the wrecker.

Michael Schumacher once had the hard earned reputation as the most difficult man to overtake in Formula One. He could sense doubt in other drivers and any hint of hesitation was met with a door being slammed unceremoniously and the possible loss of a nose cone.

Since his comeback, however, Schumacher has lost his aura. The younger drivers openly challenge the old man, pulling off audacious and often disrespectful moves. They care little for the legend—most of them having been in short pants when Schumi T-boned Damon Hill to secure the championship in 1994 or when he speared his car into Jacques Villeneuve in the 1997 championship decider.

But it seems that all of the frustrations of his comeback season finally got to the German champion at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and he decided that enough was enough. First to feel his frustration was Robert Kubica on one of Schumacher’s out laps, both ended up cutting the chicane as Schumacher refused to yield to the faster Pole.

On the last lap Schumacher was challenged by Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi going into the first corner, but again Schumacher refused to yield to an obviously faster car, and the two made contact in a shower of shattered carbon fibre. Schumacher’s car suffered sufficient damage to allow Adrian Sutil to also squeeze past.

The incident of note, however, occurred between Schumacher and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa with a handful of laps remaining in the race. Schumacher had moved to cover the inside line for the final chicane but then moved across at the last minute, breaking the Brazilian’s front wing and forcing him off the road.

Although the stewards took a long look at the incident, Schumacher was cleared of wrongdoing, while Massa was given a 20-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane when he came in to replace the damaged wing.

Mercedes fans will not have missed the irony of this following Schumacher’s disproportionate penalty at Monaco; they will just be disappointed that it wasn’t Alonso on the receiving end.

Not that we should get the impression that Schumacher was alone in keeping the stewards interested. Kubica received a reprimand for an eye-popping entry into the pit lane which may have caused Sutil to request a fresh pair of underpants.

Jaime Alguersuari was also reprimanded for taking the nose of Rubens Barrichello’s Williams. Massa and Sutil were also involved in a first lap incident that saw the pair collide three times before the end of the second corner. That either finished the race was a miracle, but no bigger miracle than both avoiding the stewards' wrath for what looked like a nasty bit of aggro.

Add to that a jump start to Vitaly Petrov and some speeding in the pit lane, and it resulted in a very busy afternoon for the stewards. Despite all of the excitement, however, we saw a return to the laissez-faire approach that we saw from the stewards before Monaco.

If anything, the stewards were even more relaxed than in those early races, choosing to completely ignore Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso going side-by-side down pit lane. Admittedly, there were none of the shenanigans that we saw between Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton in Shanghai, but there is no question that McLaren were guilty of an unsafe release, at the very least.

In the post-race interviews, Hamilton claimed to be unaware that Alonso was there and yet had the presence of mind not to go into the outside lane, choosing instead to stay to the inside. The incident made no difference in the result of the race—Alonso led after the two left the pits and Hamilton ended up winning—but the rules are there for a reason and they need to be enforced.

The other thing of note was, for the first time this year, we got to see the real benefit of the F-duct. With Canada’s long straights and slow corners, McLaren were able to carry more wing than any of their competitors, giving them better grip in the corners and protecting the suddenly fragile Bridgestone tyres, while maintaining their speed on the straights.

Canada 2010 is a turning point for the season. The stranglehold that Red Bull has had on the championship has been loosened with McLaren handing out a lesson in how to capitalise on a situation when it goes your way.

So what was looking like a Red Bull benefit has now turned into a fascinating battle between them and McLaren. Only time will tell how it turns out, but after this weekend it looks like it might be fun.

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