Shortly after returning to the sport in 2010, Michael Schumacher asked us to judge him on the performances during his second season, and not his first.
This was to allow him time to familiarise himself with the modern day car, adjust to the advanced technologies, understand the tyres, and get back into the hectic lifestyle that a Formula One driver has to endure.
When he was announced as one of Mercedes’ drivers last season, he said he was `excited` and felt he could `challenge` for the championship at some stage during his second spell in Formula One.
Eighteen months later and he has already admitted that things haven’t worked out the way he had hoped. He was well beaten by Nico Rosberg in the championship standings last season, and it was only until the final four or five rounds that we began to see a spark in Schumacher that we hadn’t seen throughout the year.
Despite rumours that his seat was up for grabs Michael kept his place on the grid for 2011, but didn’t have the best of starts as he retired in Australia, and struggled for pace in Qualifying before the European season kicked in.
Picture from Marcel. T.
Turkey and Monaco were not especially good races for the seven times World Champion, and having already retired in Melbourne his `judgment` season seemed to be going the same way as the first. Badly.
However the F1 circus then moved to Montreal in Canada, the Gilles Villeneuve circuit. This was an event Michael had won seven times previously and said right from the off that he was ready and up for the fight once more.
Qualifying saw him line up in a credible 8th place (albeit still two places behind team-mate Rosberg), but judging by his solid starts had every chance of claiming good points to kick start his year.
In a race which I believe to be one of the best in years, Michael Schumacher was one of the best drivers throughout the course of the afternoon. He judged the conditions beautifully and put some good moves on top drivers, including Mark Webber who ultimately denied him what would have been a famous podium finish just laps from the end.
Granted, the weather conditions played a part and no doubt the skies were responsible for the overall complexity of the event. However this shouldn’t shield what was a thoroughly entertaining motor race, and Schumacher revelled in the rain which in the past has brought him continuous success.
His first race win at Belgium in 1992 came in similar conditions, and future wins at Spain in 1996 and subsequently at Spa once more has proved that he is one of the very best when it comes to driving in slippy and treacherous circumstances.
Seemingly though he doesn’t have the raw pace required in the dry, but at times Michael has been the creator of his own downfall. At the British and European races he lost his front wing which cost him vital time, and at Silverstone in particular it cost him big points and a strong finish ahead of Rosberg.
Eddie Jordan has been very out spoken regarding his driving which at times has been justified, but at Silverstone I thought it was a cheap shot considering the track conditions were far from perfect, and at a corner (Brooklands) which had proved tricky for other drivers I felt the incident with Kobayashi didn’t warrant a stop/go penalty.
Amazingly though the German admitted full responsibility for the incident, and refused to blame the stewards (of which Nigel Mansell, who is not a Schumacher fan, was sitting alongside) for his result. He lost more time than he normally would have done with a drive through penalty, but it actually proves a quicker route which meant an alternative punishment had to be awarded for the weekend.
Read part II Friday