Monday, August 10, 2009

return of the king

(Update: it was a good entry but Schumacher has decided not to race again. He had a motorcycle accident earlier this year and his neck injury hasn't responded well to the strains of F1 driving.)

Michael Schumacher, retired for nearly three seasons, will slip back into the beautiful Prancing Horse in less than two weeks time. Schumi, easily my favorite driver of all time, is completing the season for the injured Felipe Massa after he was injured in a freaky and horrific accident two weeks ago. The seven-time World Champion (two with Benetton and five-in-a-row with Ferrari) and winner of 91 of 250 races in his career, has held an advisory position within the team since his retirement from driving after the 2006 season. At 40-years old he may not have been the obvious choice - especially since the team does have a paid test driver/F1 player in former teammate Luca Badoer - to step in but it's not that crazy. There are two sides to the coin that make me wonder; first, he wouldn't be doing this unless he felt could seriously compete in what's been, to this point, a pretty miserable car. (Bear in mind that Ferrari, prior to the accident, employed the 2007 World Champion, Kimi Raikkonen, and the driver, in Felipe Massa, that lost out on last year's title on the final turn of the final race. Neither of them have been able to squeeze anything out of this year's car.) I think Schumacher is worth two or three positions in a race based solely on his ability to manage a race better than any driver I ever watched. The second side of the coin is that his arrogance and sporting ego may well be getting in the way of his common sense; he could be totally outclassed. In the end, I think he could qualify mid-grid and finish the race in the top five - he is that good. I'll search the Web and try to catch my first race this season; it'll be worth it, regardless. An additional sideshow is that the top team in F1 this year is owned and run by Ross Brawn (taken over from Honda at the last gasp during the off season) who was Michael's team boss/technician during his glorious career. Believe me when I tell you that Brawn knows all of the Michael's tricks. With the new testing rules in effect this year the teams aren't allowed to actual test, or drive, their cars during the season. That's a fairly new rule and Ferrari did make an appeal to the other nine teams to allow Schumi to drive the 2009 version in order to prepare for his return - if you follow F1 at all you know that was met with distain by the entire field. It's sort of like Roger Federer or Tiger Woods asking for a little extra time in getting ready for a match or tournament. Even I laughed aloud at the sheer balls they showed in asking. Good luck, Michael.

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