Michael Schumacher: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of His 2010 Season

Matt HillContributor IIIDecember 5, 2010

YEONGAM GUN, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 22:  Michael Schumacher of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during practice for the Korean Formula One Grand Prix at the Korea International Circuit on October 22, 2010 in Yeongam-gun, South Korea.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Michael Schumacher is one of the greatest drivers of all time.

Some would say he is the greatest of all time. Personally I have him third in my all time list but he is still a Formula 1 legend. His "retirement" in 2006 was met by huge plaudits when anyone talked about his legendary career. His 91 victories, his 68 pole position, his 76 fastest laps, seven world championships all of which earned him the respect of the Formula 1 world.

He is a flawed genius, of course. Such incidents at the 1994 Australian Grand Prix, the 1997 European Grand Prix, the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix, the 2002 United States Grand Prix and the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix, saw events transpire that I am sure Michael is not proud of.

The 1994 season was indeed full of controversy for Michael. Allegations of illegal fuel, running the car too low, use of illegal electronic driver aids and taking Damon Hill out at the very end of the season left the title win very much tainted.

In Britain we have something of a love/hate relationship with the great German. Some people simply cannot forgive him for his behaviour at the 1994 Australian Grand Prix when he stopped Damon Hill from winning the drivers title in a controversial manner. But, I think even though there were a lot of people who didn't like the person Schumacher was, they respected his ability. People like myself who are genuine Schumacher fans aren't overly common in Britain.

But despite all of this, when Schumacher was announced as Massa's replacement after his horrific accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009 there was real excitement about seeing him back. Then when it was announced Schumacher wouldn't be able to come back, there was a real sense of disappointment.

When the news broke he would be part of the 2010 season as a full time driver for Mercedes, the excitement returned. Would the seven time world champion return and dominate the sport like he had in the early part of the decade? Would he struggle? and if so would he go back to retirement? There was hundreds of questions before a wheel was even turned.

The 2010 season was, overall, a bitter disappointment for Michael. For the first time since his debut in 1991 he failed to secure a pole position, podium, fastest lap or a race victory. He was dominated by Nico Rosberg, scoring about half the points of his team mate and could only achieve ninth overall in the drivers standings. The season also had a particularly ugly moment but also provided us Schumacher fans reasons to cheer.

So this is the main points of Schumacher's season: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good

The Spanish Grand Prix was a quality performance, as he out-qualified his teammate for the first team in the season. The updates put on the car by Mercedes really helped Schumacher's confidence and allowed him to show some of his talent. After qualifying in sixth, he drove a fine race and ended taking a deserved fourth position.

The Turkish Grand Prix saw one of Schumacher's really strong performances. Qualifying in fifth position and out qualifying his team mate was a good start. He then proceeded to beat his team mate in the race and when the Red Bull took each other out he proceeded to take fourth position holding off both Rosberg and Kubica.

The Japanese Grand Prix saw something of a return to form for Schumacher. It was the first time in the season that the majority of else thought "the old Schumacher" was back. He avoided the first lap incidents and after his pit stop he really put his team mate Rosberg under pressure. Earlier in the season, Rosberg would of left him trailing but Schumacher kept up and put him under pressure.

The Korean Grand Prix in those dreadfully wet conditions we saw something that reminded of us his old "Rainmaster" nick name. He overtook Jenson Button in the Mclaren (Button did have brake issues though) and overtook many people's driver of the year Robert Kubica.

Schumacher seemed very comfortable in the Mercedes and it seemed that at last Schumacher wasn't struggling with the Mercedes understeer issues.

The Brazilian Grand Prix saw Schumacher trounce his team mate in qualifying and then put together a solid race drive. It could and should of been a lot better but a mistake in strategy left Schumacher stuck behind Sutil's slower Force India.

It also showed Schumacher's rather more generous side when he let Rosberg through near the end, who he felt had a faster car at the time to see if he could challenge the Mclarens. After years of being accused of not being generous or helpful to team mates that was a nice thing to see.

Sadly in terms of high points we end here, which tells you something about his season.

The Bad

Schumacher's first poor race was the Austrailian Grand Prix. In qualifying, he was just behind Nico Rosberg in a respectable seventh position. In the race though, things went very badly. By no fault of his own he ended up losing his front wing as he got caught up in the Button/Alonso incident.

When came back out after replacing his front wing we saw him struggle to pass the backmarkers and finally ended up behind Jaime Alguersuari and then spent twenty laps stuck behind the young Spaniard. All of his shadowing and moving around behind Jaime had no effect on the Spanish driver and people were without doubt scratching their heads.

How come a seven time world champion gets stuck behind a Spanish youngster?

Eventually he made his way past the Toro Rosso and then got past De La Rosa as well turn to earn the final champion point in tenth position. But Schumacher's performance left his fans feeling very underwhelmed.

Montreal saw Schumacher produce not only a poor performance but also one where he was far too aggressive when defending. He qualified a dismal 13th and was struggling to get the balance of his Mercedes. But in the race we did see the bad side of Schumacher with several separate incidents that were dubious to say the least.

The first was with Kubica when Schumacher refused to yield making heading into turn 4 which resulted in Kubica having to cut across the grass. This resulted in damage to the underside of the Renault but Kubica still had a strong race.

He then was involved with Massa as the Brazilian looked for a way through, Heading into the final chicane Schumacher blocked Massa very aggressively which resulted in Massa losing his front wing and having to pit for a replacement.

Schumacher was then passed on the last lap by both Force India cars as their was simply no more grip left in Schumacher's tyres. He ended out of the points in 11th and Martin Brundle summed it up simply, calling it the "worst weekend of Schumacher's career"

The only reason Canada doesn't make the final list was the tyre problem gave him a small, if pathetic excuse

Valencia saw Schumacher have another terrible weekend. Struggling with the car all weekend and a lacklustre performance saw Michael qualify 15th and was unable to improve his position during the race finishing in 15th.

Valencia was so disappointing because Michael looked totally powerless. He looked like someone who couldn't push the car to, and beyond it's limits.

Singapore was equally as bad for Michael. Completely unable to get his own set-up correct he decided to copy Rosberg's just to try and get some performance out of his car. It worked a bit in qualifying with Michael earning ninth but in the race he was stuck in the midfield and 13th was the bets he could manage as well as a crash with Kobayashi (it was Kobayashi's fault)

Those were the worst races of Schumacher's season but there were a lot of performances that were not anything special

The Ugly

The first race that immediately comes to mind is in Hungary. At Hungary, he produced the most disgraceful piece of driving, in my opinion, of his career. He had produced a poor weekend already, qualifying in 14th and he was miles off the pace of his teammate.

During the race he was steady, taking advantage as others broke down and was in the final points paying position entering the latter stages of the race. This is where the horrific moment occurred. Barrichello was hunting him down in the quicker Williams and was putting Schumacher under massive pressure.

Barrichello drew up along side Michael down the start/finish straight. Schumacher went to block him but it was too late as Barrichello was already along side. The act of Schumacher's attempted block saw Barrichello come within millimetres of smashing into pit wall. It was completely out of line from Schumacher.

What made it even worse if that is possible, was the lack of point to the move. Barrichello was quicker than Michael and it was only a matter of time before he got passed. Also, Barrichello had already won the battle, Rubens was along side and had the better line into turn 1. The battle was over.

Then final thing that made it worse was the fact that it meant nothing to the season. Schumacher wasn't fighting for the title. The other controversial moments that Schumacher had he was in the middle of a championship challenge and he was doing everything to win the title. This time there was nothing really to gain.

He would ,and rightly, of been black flagged had the race had longer to go. Since they couldn't black flag him in time, a 10 place grid penalty was given for Spa. Considering how much Michael loves Spa it felt even more appropriate.

The other really ugly moment for Michael was at Monaco. I was unsure where to put this moment as the rule itself was so ridiculously stupid. The Alonso overtake on the final lap. Should he of passed? According to the radio message Michael got, absolutely. He was told he was allowed to pass and he did. But the intended meaning of the rule meant he shouldn't of.

I was loathed to put the Monaco moment in the ugly section because it wasn't Michael's fault. A lot of pundits thought it was a great move as they interpreted the rule like Mercedes did. The penalty should of been simply to put him back behind Alonso.

The penalty awarded was very harsh. Some conspiracy theorists said Damon Hill, who was the guest steward, was getting his own back for 1994, which for me is total nonsense. It wasn't an ugly moment because of what Schumacher did, but more the stupidity of the rule.

Well there we go a look back on Michael's comeback year.

I hold hopes that next year will be better for Schumacher.


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