Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh, Micheal, No

Micheal Schumacher will line up in 2010 behind the wheel of a Mercedes F1 car. When he does so, he will re-open the story that is his Formula One career. And he takes a terrific risk in doing so.

Schumacher is remembered as unquestionably the greatest modern era driver. Better than Prost, better than Senna. Better than Mansell. And of all the champions since, perhaps only Fernando Alonso deserves to be mentioned in the same paragraph as those four.

Schumacher's final drive in Brazil 2006 underscored both his drive and the quality of his car -- coming into the race with still a mathematical chance of winning the drivers' title, and after being forced to the back of the pack with an early puncture, he cut his deficit to the leader from 90 seconds down to 60 over the race distance. This showed that had he been anywhere near the front of the pack, he could have won. Which might not have granted him the drivers' title, but it would have reminded everyone of how dominating he could be.

I was relieved when Schumacher bowed out of attempting to replace Massa in 2009. The risk to his reputation was too high.

And I think it is still too high. If Schumacher is shown up by these youngsters, and I think that he just might, it will devalue what is unquestionably the greatest record of the modern era.

I also think that Ferrari will be angry as Schumacher will now be pictured next to the Mercedes Benz symbol instead of Ferrari's prancing horse. All those years of being associated with Schumacher will probably just evaporate.

Still, Schumacher is as Schumacher does. If he's bored and wants to play at racing cars again, who really is going to stop him?