I MENTIONED in a comment piece a while ago that I thought Michael Schumacher would win a race last year, and although I never took to Schumacher as either a person or a driver when he was last in F1, there is no denying his class.
Only he, and he alone, could have taken that dog of a Ferrari and turn it into a championship winning car after so many years of dismal failure.
And for that feat alone he should be admired. Also, I have a lot of begrudging respect for someone who has the emotionally detached ability to deliberately punt another driver off the racetrack in order to win. And he got away with it.
His comeback has been fraught and many pundits have been writing him off almost since the first race of last season. I, on the other hand, have looked at the bigger picture. Finishing ninth (including three fourths) in 2010 in the world championship might be seen as a failure by some, I don't think so.
Put it this way - if I was a team owner paying some perceived hotshot millions to race my car, I'd be having a few words to the other 18 drivers who finished the season behind Schumacher.
Especially as the German's almost old enough to be some of the younger ones' father. Imagine that? Being an F1 driver and still being beaten by your dad.
For those who are wringing their hands saying Schumacher's return to the racing is a media stunt and he's not fit enough - who cares. Fangio won his last title at 46, Nigel Mansell won his title at 39 and Alain Prost won his last title at 38. Schumacher is only 40 and appears to be as fit as a butcher's dog.
If at nearly 50 Fangio could muscle an ill-handling car (by today's standards) around the bastard grandfather of all tracks, the Nurburgring, in 1957, Schumacher isn't going to have any problem caressing a paper dart around some of today's modern circuits.
Is Schumacher the greatest driver so far in 60-odd years of F1? Who knows. From my point of view you can't compare Fangio, Hawthorn and Clarke etc with today's drivers - it's pointless. The Schumachers and Sennas of the modern era could no better drive a 1960s car than Fangio etc could drive the video cars of today.
However, I digress. This season Schumacher is again proving some of his detractors wrong. After five rounds he sits ninth on the table and, in his last outing in Spain over the weekend, beat his teammate Nico Roseberg home to take sixth place.
Let's hope that put an end to the media rumours that were fuelled by selective reporting that Schumacher was unhappy with his comeback, especially after the Turkish Grand Prix. He had a bad race so is rightly justified in being pissed off.
In a TV interview he said the "big joy" had gone missing and everyone jumped on the comment. If anyone had taken the time to listen to the whole chat, it was easy to hear that he was talking about the result, not the racing.
I personally like it when an athlete is annoyed that things didn't go according to plan and he proved in Spain he still has what it takes. Not only did he finish in the top 10, he has now qualified in the top 10 twice as well.
Things are looking up.
However, on a media coverage note, you've got to ask yourself why was there so much hot air written and spoken about his glum look after the Turkey race. Who cares if he had a face like a slapped bottom, come on, we all get a bit dark when things don't go according to plan.
I wonder if the continued media speculation, and almost weekly suggestions and hints, that Schumacher is about to throw in the towel, is because the rest of the drivers are as boring as bat guano. I would hazard a guess, almost without a doubt, the other drivers' girlfriends' or wives' shoes have more personality than they do as drivers.
Hence the need to waste time on endless speculation that one of the most gifted and most successful Formula One drivers, ever, on a bad day, wants to chuck the towel. You don't win seven world titles by having a hissy fit and walking away when things don't go your way.
Watch for Schumie to get better this year and put the frighteners up some of the more fancied drivers when he gets his Mercedes working as he wants it.
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