December 23rd, 2009
12:57 PM ET

Schumacher is back ... but title-talk is festive fantasy

Anyone who thinks Michael Schumacher is going to win the drivers’ title next year in Formula One is either German and blinded by patriotism or have allowed the festive spirit to cloud their judgment.

Could the Schumacher return fail to meet the high expectations of fans?
Could the Schumacher return fail to meet the high expectations of fans?

He’ll be aged 41 when he hits the grid for Mercedes at Bahrain in mid-March and most of those drivers around him will be nearly half his age.

It’s a massive factor, even if you have the experience of winning seven drivers’ titles and have your old boss, Ross Brawn, back at your side.

New rules come into play; no scheduled pit stops next year means that the physical demands on the drivers has been cranked up a few notches. Only the youngest and fittest will survive and Schumacher will be neither.

Let’s not leave out the fact that Ferrari and McLaren will be back to their best after throwing away the last third of last season to develop their 2010 cars. They won’t get caught asleep by Brawn like they did this year.

And both the Italian and British teams boast three former world champions between them who desperately won’t want Schumacher to steal their glory.

Throw in a few more technical rule changes coming Formula One’s way next year and testing for all teams can’t start until February 1 and Schumy has a mountain to climb.

He won’t have the technical advances over other teams like he did at Ferrari as well as the bigger budget or the bigger team.

The greatest thing for Formula One through his new deal is that it offers the best build-up to the start of a season in recent memory. Even throughout the year there will be some great battles involving the former champ.

Picture this: It’s Silverstone and McLaren’s all English driver set-up takes on Germany’s Mercedes team with Rosberg and Schumacher in the cockpit. A mouth-watering battle; let’s just hope it doesn’t rain or Schumy’s got it in the bag.

His decision comes at a time when the sport desperately needs a boost after the ugliest and most controversial season in 2009 in living memory.

Car makers have dropped out and so too many sponsors. Schumacher will bring attention to the sport on track for all the right reasons and current sponsors of the sport will be jumping for joy. Potential sponsors might now decide to put pent to paper.

There are many reasons to welcome Schumacher's return but there's more chance of bumping into Rudolph the red nose reindeer than another title going the way of the legendary German.

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soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Peter

    I am German, and have always been a Schumacher fan.

    The challenge he put up on himself is HUGE, and I know most of the other drivers are half his age, but ................... never underestimate Schumi.

    It will put the extra touch into the F1 and even with me being a German, I always wanted the best driver to win and always hope that nobody gets hurt in the progress.

    Merry Christmas all

    December 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  2. Miguel CAMACHO

    Well, opinion is just that. Nevertheless, saying that the best pilot ever in F1 joining the world champion team, with one of the top pilots joining from Williams and the technical know-how and funding from the makers of the best engine on the grid is NOT a title contending combination is clearly an underestimation.

    ex-Brawn has not been standing still since they won their 2009 championship, and now have the technical input from Mercedes, along with a significantly improved budget and a driver combination which is obviously stronger than the one they had this year. Obviously McLaren and Ferrari and Red Bull are not frittering their time before the season testing begins, but writing off Mercedes and Schumacher just on the grounds of age is , at best, risky.

    December 23, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  3. Mike B.

    I have been a F1 fan since before the glorious days of Ayrton Senna and I have followed Schumacher from beginning to end. That he would actually return is a dream come through (not only for the guys at the various race tracks, trying to make ends meet). The momentum is enormous....Just think about all the young pilots who have said how much they would have loved to race against the guy. Now, they have to actually prove their youth, talent and (sometimes) big mouths. We have Ross Brawn, Adrian Newey and the certified best engine in the field (2009). Add that Schumi is going back to his roots and the guys who unconditionally supported a young tallented driver. It is not like Schumi is returning to the track as a favour to a small team and money is not an aspect. He got nearly as much as an advisor to Ferrari, has enough anyways and although he will likely make a lot more on merchandise and sponsorships, the true reason (I believe) is that he sees the perfect package: People he knows and like (including Norbert Haug) a competitive vehicle and the eager to show everybody that he still got what it takes to win. In the end, he may not win the championship, but I am certain that he will win more than one race. I was going to watch the races anyways and the return of Schumi is bound to make that a real treat.

    December 23, 2009 at 7:37 pm | Reply
  4. Georges

    The greatest F1 driver of all time is now 3 years older than last time he was behind the wheels. Is that enough reason to write him off completely?

    You can argue that this makes his task harder but not impossible. F1 is a very technical sport and Shumi has proved many times that he, along with Ross Brawn, are masters in this game.
    As for the new rules, their effect will be felt by all drivers.

    All i am saying is give him a chance even of he was 41. His comeback can only be good for the sport and for us spectators

    December 23, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Reply
  5. Andrew

    Experience also goes a long way, and Schumi's got experience.

    December 23, 2009 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  6. Nick

    This is a good thing for schumacher, the fans, and F1. The only problem is the FIA as a whole. If they keep regulating "race" cars we will soon be seeing prius hybrid F1 cars and VW beetle diesels rallying. Motorsport isnt the problem...its the governing body...
    Please bring back group B and 10 cylinders...
    -A true race fan-

    December 23, 2009 at 8:23 pm | Reply
  7. Amourgam

    If you look into the recent 25 year history of F1 carefully and objectively, and in particular at the performance of the "great drivers", you will note that there are two broad classes of drivers: those who drive fast with no real regard or deep understanding of the technical aspects of their machines, (cars), and those who are very acutely aware of their machines and how, techinically, to set up and get the most out of them. Ayrton Senna was one of those who drove fast and very skillfully and Alain Prost was one who truly understood his machine and was able to feedback enormously to his engineers to enable them to design, produce and set-up fast and reliable machines. (That was why Prost was nicknamed "The Professor").

    Michael Schumacher is unique because he is actually as good one way as he is the other way. If you like, he is a hybrid Senna and Prost, every single bit as good, if not better, in either discipline as Senna and Prost ever were. That, in my opinion, is why he was world champion seven times and just missed being so another two times.

    That is why I think that Mercedes want him so badly and why I think that his age will not be a factor against him as long as he is reasonably fit. (Although he might suffer a little at the very hot circuits).

    As Peter and Camacho have posted, and especially if one takes into account the technical nature of F1, it would be a huge, huge mistake to underestimate Schumacher. And ... I am not German!

    December 23, 2009 at 8:23 pm | Reply
  8. Michael

    Well, then say hi to Rudolph, I guess.....

    December 23, 2009 at 9:56 pm | Reply
  9. JC

    Schumacher not only knows how to win but also how not to lose , which might just be the case while everyone else battles it out?

    December 23, 2009 at 10:03 pm | Reply
  10. jacefarm

    Schumi and Brawn will stomp the competition, and Nico will be propelled into the next chapter of his career. No one is finer than Schumacher.

    December 23, 2009 at 11:38 pm | Reply
  11. Rafael KM (Brazil)

    well, he know how is the spirit of a champion and that counts

    December 23, 2009 at 11:43 pm | Reply
  12. P. Neumann

    It's more patriotic to call an all English versus all German race at Silverstone "A mouth-watering battle" than to hope Schumi will win the title! Either way, it will be fantastic to see a man who was able to push a F1 car, consistenly to its limits, beyond the capacity of other fellow drivers (except perhaps for Senna) and won 7 world championships to be back in the grid next year.

    I remember that Martin Brundle became a commentator following his F1 retirement, on one interview with Schumi, he asked him how he was abke to break so late into the turns? It was an indicator that his own fellow race drivers drivers could not figure out how Schumi had the edge in every millisecond and every corner.

    Not just at Silverstone, but in any track in 2010, to see the likes of Button, Hamilton and Alonso up against Schumi once again, will set the stage for many mouth watering battles! Lets hope that Schumi does not start winning every race once he gets his car just right, that can be very boring as we saw for so many years. His age handycap should level the race field.

    December 24, 2009 at 12:21 am | Reply
  13. mark - NZ

    dont forget if Armstrong can win it again after he decided to call it quits... do not under estimate the ability of winning 7 driver's title... this guy can do it and the young ones will have the run for their money....

    The only thing that will make a difference is the car he will be driving...

    December 24, 2009 at 12:29 am | Reply
  14. Daniel

    I am German too, and I have never been a Schumacher fan.

    He is by no means the best driver of all times – his teams, Benetton-Renault and Ferrari, simply had technical advantages over their competitors in the 90's. It's disappointing to see how people are blinded by success stories and create an idealized picture of someone who didn't care much about playing fair (remember the final race against Damon Hill in 1994, and 3 years later against Villeneuve) and has never been a good role model (he moved to a foreign country to avoid paying taxes in Germany, where he was brought up and trained ). His philosophy has always been to "win at all costs" – probably, now he will have to learn to loose and realize that people didn't admire him because of his performance and character but because of his success.

    December 24, 2009 at 12:33 am | Reply
  15. Steven

    Justin, CNN sports now entering tabloid mode...!?!

    December 24, 2009 at 8:09 am | Reply
  16. David Perel

    If Lance Armstrong is fit enough to compete in the TDF at his age then Shumi is more than fit enough to cope with the physical demands of F1.

    F1 is a mental game more than anything else, and Shumi is pretty decent at that. He has Ross Brawn and Mercedes backing him.

    Catch a wake up, he will be in contention😉

    December 24, 2009 at 11:28 am | Reply
  17. Thales Mendes

    Hi formula one lovers,

    I´m from Brazil and I know that everybody saw Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna on formula one.
    I believe that Michael must to teach other pilots because his carrer over. In my opinion Michael was the best of the best pilot in our universe, but his time is past.
    "Michael, keep your retirement forever and be happy!"

    December 24, 2009 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  18. rahul

    i have to disagree with you justin, it has been done before.
    we are talking about one of the best drivers in the sport.

    My view is, it will take Schumi a couple of races to get warmed up fully, but once he finds his rhythm there is no stopping him. i have no doubt in his ability!! don't forget before Schumi and Ross joined ferrari, the legendary team was going through a rough patch. The best mastermind and the best driver in the sport back together just leads to more titles!!!!!!
    new rules will be a blessing in disguise, look at Brawn Gp001 no one expected it to be fast right out of the box, but it was because of Ross Brawn's ability to think outside the box!!!

    cant wait for the season to start, hopefully we have a close battle between all the top teams! its a shame Kimi has left F1, good news for WRC!!

    December 25, 2009 at 12:32 am | Reply
  19. Tobias

    Say "Hi" to Rudolph when you bump into him.

    December 25, 2009 at 8:22 am | Reply
  20. Case Jordan

    Nobody is demanding a win from Michael Schumacher, we are just glad that he is back. I have always been a fan of McLaren Mercedes but reserved alot of respect for him as a sportsman.
    The fact is that he will win. we live in times where humans defy age to achieve their goals and he is one of those people.
    Next year I will remind you that.

    December 25, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  21. Fernando

    Button was F1 champ. It shows us how important the car is over the pilot. If Schummy gets a good car, all is possible.

    December 28, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  22. John Ganhao

    I´ve been wacthing F1 for the past 25 years and no doubt Shumacher is a great driver, but let´s not forget that besides the new techical rules, we also have a lot of new tracks on the season, where Shumacher have never raced!
    I think Ferrari and McLaren will be in top form this season and the fact that both teams have new world class drivers will help them to achive some good results.
    In 2010 we´ll have for sure more racing!

    December 28, 2009 at 8:48 pm | Reply
  23. Ro

    "Picture this: It’s Silverstone and McLaren’s all English driver set-up takes on Germany’s Mercedes team with Rosberg and Schumacher in the cockpit. A mouth-watering battle; let’s just hope it doesn’t rain or Schumy’s got it in the bag."

    You're forgetting Hamilton's own prowess in the wet, clearly!

    Schuey's a great driver, for sure, but Hamilton has shown a level of dominance that Schuey spent years building. I think he will exceed expectations, for sure, but the Brawn engineers admitted that their chassis was such a bodge job that Mercedes are going to have a massive job developing the car for 2010. They can expect the same sluggish start to the year that McLaren faced in '09, for the same reason.

    Schuey may get more out of the car than most could (I think the battle with Hamilton is going to be epic and I suspect that Hamilton has the edge) but he cannot drive it faster than it is capable of going.

    And that's leaving out the twin challenges from Alonso and Massa at Ferrari, who aren't going to be sitting around on their laurels doing nothing. Throw in the Red Bull wildcards and we have ourselves a very, very competitive season of F1 ahead of us. I can't wait!

    December 30, 2009 at 11:02 am | Reply
  24. impulse60

    Wow! This piece smacks of being rooted in emotion rather than journalistic merit. Put a seven time champ with a team he knows like his own family...in a car that won it all in 2009...and he has no chance?

    December 31, 2009 at 2:51 am | Reply
  25. Steve Kimball

    Guys,

    Schumacher coming back is a deram come true.
    I remember when Mario Andretti retired, he did a "wind down" year, where he went to all the reacks and gave the fans a chance to farewll him.

    Schumacher annaounced his retirement on the thrid last race in his career and no-one got a chance to farewell him. Even if he takes this year to just farwell everone at each race that will be a good thing.

    Also, if this fellow has had 3 years to think it all out and have a break, I am sure he will come back fired up for the challenge. I have never met him but he does not seem like the type of man that can just sit in a chair "advising" for the rest of his life. Perhaps he heard the Elvis song "It's now or never"...who knows.

    Anyway, at our house, we will be glued to the TV at the start of the season.

    SK...

    January 5, 2010 at 3:18 am | Reply
  26. edda bonito

    Always the same - the stupid blinded german that believes Schumacher could win and the smart young english that have the age and the capacity to do so.
    Written with 2 blind english eyes, doesnt the "fair play" originate from england??? Lets play fair and wait and see and then we judge.
    Schumacher wanted to make a come back, whats wrong with it ?
    Even if he finishes the season as the last of the drivers with points he is 7, SEVEN TIMES WORLD CHAMPION !!!! and no one can take that from him.

    January 8, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Reply
  27. Robin

    Fangio was 40 when he won his first championship, and 46 when he won his last. So age should not be a barrier for Schumacher, if he is really as good as everyone thinks he is.

    January 9, 2010 at 10:54 am | Reply
  28. Mari Ann Martinez

    I am not a German, I am not a Schumacher fan, but I am an F1 Fan.
    With all due respect, Michael Schumacher is the greatest driver in F1 history. And it would take generations before any F1 driver's now can beat his F1 achievements & records. And that he is back to race, I believe he would be very competetive for the Driver's Championship for 2010. Because, he hast "the" natural racedriver talent and the technical talent to develop the car he is to drive. He's a natural, he can race and has the intelligence. In no time he would develop a Championship car out of the Mercedes GP team. By racing again in the next 3 years in F1, he can only break records and make new winning records. And that is just the real fact.

    January 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  29. Mari Ann Martinez

    Let Michael Schumacher first the chance to drive. Then make judgements.

    For somebody who had not driven in F1 for 3 years, and in between had so much changes in the F1 racecars, motors, rules and car constructions, ... and then for the first time drove his first try in Valencia and landed 3rd fastest. Is for me a definite proof that Michael Schuhmacher has every right to comeback and claim a possible 8th Title and when his car is tuned to his compatible preference, maybe more Titles.

    He still has it in him. He will prove his critics wrong and will do it with style.

    February 2, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Reply

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