When a young Michael Schumacher burst onto the F1 scene in 1991, he faced the daunting task of taking on legendary Aryton Senna. But after the retirements of Prost and Mansell, followed by Senna’s tragic death, there was only the easily dispatched — albeit two-time World Champion — Mika Häkkinen.
Schumacher’s record-setting career always suffered from the perhaps fatal flaw that he had no serious competition for years. If as I think the sign of a true champion driver is winning in an inferior car that should not be winning, like Senna in 1993, then Michael hasn’t shown that exceptional talent in years. The young man could take a Benetton stuck in 5th gear to the flag in P2, while today’s Schumacher cannot get into the points, inflated as they are, on a track like Circuit Gilles Villeneuve at which he has often seen great success.
The transition back to F1 for the seven-time World Champion has not been easy. Mercedes GP has yet to deliver a quick chassis. Michael has been struggling in qualifying and with tires. But he’s also doing silly, rule-flouting things and making lots of contact. A lot like the young Michael trying to take out Jacques Villeneuve at Jerez in 1997. if t was just annoying then, it’s a bit sad now.
Schumacher for the first time in 2010 is facing his inner demons. The dark fear that maybe he wasn’t as good as the records and dominating 2000-2004 championship seasons would prove. He’s only one of four world champions on the grid now. He’s not driving like one.
Here’s what Martin Brundle said:
“It was a shocking performance from Michael Schumacher today,” Brundle commented on the BBC’s post-race F1 Forum. “He lacked judgement today and that’s the worst Grand Prix I’ve ever seen him drive in his career, absolutely.
“Frankly, if he was a new boy, we’d have been saying, ‘You know what? He’s not ready for Formula 1, he’s not good enough for Formula 1’…because it was really clumsy, unacceptable moves – what’s the point in risking your car?”
Don’t misunderstood, I’d love to see Michael’s triumphant podium leap, his infectious victory smile. I just think we may have to look to DVDs and YouTube to see that driver again.