Schumacher right to retire from Formula 1, again
Michael Schumacher at the 2010 Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park
Michael Schumacher made the right call to return to retirement. Not because he hasn’t ‘got it’ anymore, there is no doubting he can still compete at the top. It has nothing to do with him.
Mercedes has fallen backwards in the past races to the point that Toro Rosso, who scored just six points in the first 11 races, now boasts a faster car.
It’s no place for a seven-time champion.
If the Brackley squad continues in the same vein next season with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel, Schumacher will have the final vindication that he was, and until Brazil is wasting, his time turning up to race.
For a team which won the 2009 drivers’ and constructors’ titles, that has won a solitary race since, and been represented on the podium just six times in the last three seasons.
For the money the German mark is pouring into the squad, they are enjoying very little yield, on a level comparable to the disastrous forays of Jaguar and Toyota, and not even on the same level as compatriot BMW, who enjoyed reasonable success during its brief tenure as a works team.
Schumacher has nothing to prove to anybody; if the Mercedes was the fastest car on the grid, he would be winning races, something he came close to earlier in the season, though chronic mechanical failures crueled any opportunity.
Monaco will go down as what might have been; his pole position became sixth on the grid, a significant whack from serial offender Romain Grosjean off the line, and finally a fuel pressure problem denied Schumacher a certain victory.
That weekend, for once, he had a car which was outright quickest, and he was the quickest driver throughout the weekend.
That’s how close he came to silencing the critics who had been lambasting him from the day he announced his comeback.
His podium at Valencia was some recompense, but it has been all downhill from there. Mercedes has displayed no signs of the fairytale transformation Ferrari enjoyed with Schumacher from the late-1990s through to the early noughties.
Otherwise he would have had no hesitation in re-committing for a further two seasons, rather than the one he was leaning towards, sensing his motivation on the wane, undoubtedly in large part due to there being not even a remote possibility of success.
Schumacher has to be lauded for coming back, he has given it his all for the past three seasons, his impact on the organisation will be felt well beyond his departure, but there is only so much underachieving which can be tolerated.
Schumacher gave something back to Formula 1 when he made his return, in doing so, he returned a favour he was never obligated to return, to Mercedes for giving him the chance to break into the sport two decades earlier.
One can only hope that Mercedes reciprocates the favour over the final four races of his magnificent career.