Considering the Hamilton and Perez moves were announced practically simultaneously, the mystery surrounding Michael Schumacher’s future remains. As usual picking the bones out of what the different parties say is not easy.
Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm (Bild), suggests Michael had opportunities with Mercedes and “could have been able to sign if he had wanted to earlier in the summer.” So, we are led to believe it is Schumacher’s indecision over whether he wishes to continue driving at all that has forced Mercedes hand in taking advantage of the Hamilton opportunity.
This may have been the case in the end. Michael’s maybe have been holding out for a 2 year deal instead of the 1 year deal Mercedes had on offer and it is this prevarication that has cost him the seat within the team he has been helping to build. But that does not mean he feels he is done with driving in F1.
Strangely there has been no talk of an offer for Michael to join Mercedes management team and they have already made the slightly inexplicable appointment of Niki Lauda last week to the board. It appears as though there is no room at the Mercedes table for the man who has surely helped build this team since Mercedes acquisition.
Suddenly in 2012, he is the fastest driver in Monaco qualifying and has out qualified Rosberg in 8/14 race weekends. He has only finished 7 races, but in 6 of those he finished ahead of Rosberg (Bahrain being the exception). His average time behind the pole time is (0.936 secs) against NR (1.145secs) and he has also qualified on average 7th and Rosberg has managed 8th.
So without a couple of crashes and some poor pit work meaning a lost tyre and without the numerous gearbox failures, Schumacher would be close if not ahead of Rosberg in the championship and that would be a big story.
Suggesting that Michael may want to retire again would have been more credible after year 2 of his comeback when he clearly struggled get to grips with the driving style required to maximise the off throttle engine blowing that dominated car design. But now?
Peter Sauber has said to Auto Motor und Sport that he would sign Schumacher “immediately” if that is what Michael wanted. Monisha Kaltenborn told Bild today they would be honoured to think Schumacher would consider driving for them.
Of course Sauber may not have the resources of Mercedes, but they are a clever Swiss based outfit, and a with a driver of Schumacher’s experience may have won their first race (as a pure independent team) in Malaysia, when Perez was set to pass Alonso for the win, but made a mistake.
It is worth noting, Schumacher lives in Switzerland near Lake Geneva and Sauber are a 30 minute flight away near Zurich. Mmm.
What of other opportunities for Schumacher? Lotus appear happy with their driver line up despite Grojeans transgressions. Force India may be in financial trouble; Torro Rosso and the bottom 3 would surely not excite Schumacher’s interest.
There is one last possibility. I mentioned several days ago that there were talks between Hamilton and Ferrari and Ferrari have still not concluded the “Yes to Massa” or “No to Massa” issue. Is it possible, Schumacher could return to Ferrari in a bid to help them win the constructers title 2013?
Michael is only 8 points behind Massa in the drivers table and has had a far inferior car than the 2012 Ferrari that is leading the title chase. Other head to head comparisons, Michael has qualified on average 0.936 (Massa 1.095) seconds slower than pole time and MS outqualified FM 9/13 times. Average qualifying position MS (7.8) FM (10.8) . Average race finish position MS (7.1) FM 10.8.
The rumours abound today that Ferrari are talking to Schumacher’s management. Surely this can’t happen. It’s a very different place than the one Michael left, and a certain Amigo called Alonso rules the roost. The ultimate No.1 driver and 7 time world champion becoming Alonso’s No. 2?
Yet maybe all Schumacher needs is to win 1 more race to prove to himself he was right to come out of retirement and Ferrari will give him that opportunity. There will be races where Alonso can’t win and Schumacher with the right car could do so.
So if Michael still has F1 racing desire in his blood surely he has to take the share options Peter Sauber would most likely offer, and race on a year to year basis. You never know maybe Peter will agree to a joint venture called Schauber!
It’s too crazy – Schumacher back to Ferrari? It’s pure Hollywood. But then Hamilton moving to Mercedes was called illogical and risky by those F1 experts in the know – and look what happened.
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