Schumacher Retires – Really?

So Michael announces his retirement in Suzuka. Adam Cooper has the full and rather emotional speech here, so I won’t publish it all. What surprises me is that Schumacher has been driving pretty well this year, here’s some head to heads

Head to Head – Schumacher/Rosberg/Massa

Ave grid position                     Ave qualifying time outside poll position

7.5     Schmacher                    0.936secs    Schumacher

8.5     Rosberg                         1.145secs    Rosberg

10.8   Massa                            1.095secs    Massa

Ave finish position                 Head to head qualifying

7.1      Schumacher                Schumacher/Massa       10 to 4

8.1      Rosberg                       Schumacher/Rosberg    8   to 6

9.8      Massa

Finished ahead of (completed races)

Schumacher/Massa        3 to 4

Schumacher/Rosberg     6 to 1

People have criticised Schumacher for not finishing enough races, 7 in fact, but If you consider the list of problems Schumacher has had, his contribution has been minimal (in bold)

Australia – gearbox DNF

Malaysia – qualified 3rd, Hit at start by Grosjean, 1 point

China – Mechanics forget to put wheel nut on DNF

Bharain – defective DRS in qualifying and gearbox failure started 23rd – finished 10th 1point


Monaco – qualified on pole. started 6th Hit by Grosjean at start DNF

Canada – After second pit stop, DRS jammed – car retired DNF

Hungary – gearbox DNF


Not only has Schumacher driven well this year, but I’m highly surprised at the combination of the timing of this announcement and the primary reason give. Its 6 days since Hamilton in effect ousted Michael from his Mercedes drive and Schumacher is telling us the reason for retiring is the old batteries in the red zone again. Yet if that’s the case why not make a joint announcement as was practically done with Perez – another 6 days to decide if the batteries are not recheargeable?

Some people have accused me of being a cynic – I think possessing an inert healthy scepticism would be a better description. I hope Michael is not trying to re-write history and claim this was going to happen regardless of Hamilton leaving McLaren because as we all know now he actually got caught out by events outside his control.

After yesterdays semantic busting article, my brain is a little fried to get too forensic over this, but I smell a rat on the whole “batteries are run down” line after Michael’s best season since returning. I wonder if there may be some connection with what the boss of Ferrari said a couple of days ago on the issue of Fernando’s team mate.

Montezemolo said, “He’s right [Fernando] that there aren’t any “phenomenons” in circulation. But first Fernando should win the world title and then we will certainly not put anyone alongside him who would bother him. It is the case that the decisions on drivers are taken by us, obviously sharing them with him. Massa has been very strong in the last two races. I’m taking a few days to reflect.”

Fernando has been quite vocal recently about who deserves the No.2 drive at Ferrari, couching his opinions in the 2nd person, almost a “Royal we” that includes him as part of the decision making process. In the statement above from Luca M, he clearly puts down any notion that Fernando is part of the driver decision making process. James Allen  has a piece on this that explains the translation into English is a little weak and what is said is an absolute claim of Authority  from Luca with them “sharing” the decision once it is made with Alonso, rather Fernando sharing in the decision making.

Even without this explanation, this is still crystal clear from Montezemelo when he says, “first Fernando should win the world title and then we will certainly not put anyone alongside him who would bother him”.

Does this last comment leave the door open for Schumacher? The rules over who they recruit are set out by Montezemolo are as follows.

If Fernando wins the world title – and we may not know until late November, Ferrari will not recruit a driver “who would bother him”.

If Fernando does not win the world drivers’ title – we may recruit a driver who could challenge his number 1 status within the team.

Who on earth could that be?

A couple of weeks ago Ferrari dismissed Perez as not experienced enough for a drive with their team. By this reasoning you have to exclude Di Resta, Hulkenberg, Maldonado and Grosjean as drivers who do not have enough time served.

Obviously Perez, Jenson, Hamilton Rosberg, Vettel and , Webber are all contracted up.

Raikkonen is certainly one who would give Fernando a run for his money, but the nature of his departure less than 5 years ago would suggest that just won’t happeni

Kovaleinen’s poor performance in a McLaren still leaves big questions over how he would handle being in a fromt running car again.

Senna and Kobayashi may be out of F1 altogether next season and the rest are just not credible options.

Who does this leave available to even remotely offer a challenge to Fernando’s no.1 status next year if he fails to win the title in 2012?

Michael Schumacher? It means Ferrari don’t have to make any decisions until December. Massa can stay if Fernado is champion otherwise he is out of contract and in comes a driver who can ‘bother’ Fernando.

Could it be that this that would excite Michael and he may then find his missing battery charger lurking in the laundry basket, fire them up one more time for one last hurrah?

Its all a bit crazy – but this is F1.

Please comment and enter the debate – whether you agree or not.

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18 responses to “Schumacher Retires – Really?

  1. Very good article. I read Allen’s blog last night and came to the conclusion, Monte was putting his foot down, much like Dennis did (we employ Lewis, not the other way around) and a direct challenge to Alonso to keep pushing, and not keep moaning about the Fez not being quick enough. It was, like you, reading the proper translation of “ovviamente condividendole con lui” which puts Alonso into the position of, you are the driver, we’ll tell you who drives alongside you.

    I, personally, can see Raikkonen back at Ferrari as, from what I understand, he left on very good terms, as Santander wanted Alonso in, Massa had a cast Iron contract (and a healthy position in the team) and Santander bankrolled the Finn’s exit. He’s not making noises about staying at Lotus, seemingly deliberately being cryptic about his future and he’s had what you’d call a very succesful comeback and would defintely give Alonso, in my opinion, a run for his money.

    I almost 100% thought Schumacher would join Sauber as an equity shareholder and driver. Genuinely did. This has caught me out a little.

  2. Hey, you like to pick the bones out of a sentence; look at this:

    “Whatever comes after, we will see. There is no point or any need to find any decisions right now, and I will do it exactly as I did it the first time, although I didn’t at that time think there was a second time but here we are, which is to focus and finish 100 per cent on what I do.

    And then I will think about what I am going to do next after that.

    “There is no more to say about this. I have options obviously yes, and you know some of the options. But whatever they will be, we will decide when the time is there.”

    Seems to add a little weight to your thoughts, no?

    • Been writing most of the morning – where is that from?

      It could be argued he is just talking about non-driving F1 options – but hey – let’s hope not. This is one of the reasons we love F1. The intrigue!

  3. Autosport online. Its all very intriguing; the mercedes deal looks more important day by day, as you are right, they were going to leave.

    • I’ve been told…

      Aabar never wanted Mercedes to pull out, which is how Lauda got involved. The agreement between the Benz board and Aaber was if Lauda could get Mr. E to see sense they would commit. Lauda lucked into the Mercedes/Lewis deal by approaching XIX. He also called in a favour or 2 from Mr E and softened the Concorde deal for the Benz board. Mr E is not quite as invincible as normal, F1 has some revenue reduction troubles on his mind – rebates (kind of) for China, Belgium, Singapore, Australia and Korea wantsome and others have been mutteriong. He didn’t need Benz pulling out of F1.

      This is how the threads came together and why amazingly Lauda is “point man” for the Benz board inside the F1 team

  4. You make some sense Judge, The way Schumacher has left it is the only team he wants to drive for is Ferrari but they won’t have him now until they see what develops with Alonso and Massa. So Schumacher announces retirement because he thinks it’s unlikely things will change but the door is still open for Ferrari just in case.
    The way he is driving and improving every year since his comeback he would jump at the chance to be back in his old team racing alongside Alonso.
    Also in the press release it said Mercedes wanted him to commit for 2 years but he wanted 1 so the whole thing was always about seeing would Mercedes give him a good car the next year.

    • No doubt he was hijacked by the events re: Lewis

      And I think Nico will have to step up to the plate – even though he has a multi year contract. I like his demeanour, but you get the feel he’s in a comfort zone and could do better.

  5. This could go one of a number of ways.

    Schumacher as mentioned above. Obviously Massa.

    Raikkonen has never impressed me greatly, I felt he lucked into the 2007 Championship, and part of the cynic in me believes, that there was behind the scenes negotiations between Mosley and Mclaren to not have the drivers thrown out of the championship as well as the constructors points for Spygate.
    Whatever the reasons, Kimi just didn’t impress against Massa at any stage during his 3 years there. He had a stronger finish to 2007, but till the midway point, Massa looked the stronger of the 2.

    Beyond that, I wonder if Alonso has to win the WDC to stop the much rumoured arrival of Vettel. I find it unbelievable that with the crap he has had to drive thanks to the Ferrari team, LdM can throw about comments like that.

    • No driver, especially at Ferrari, has been bigger than the team historically. Even his favoured son Gilles would have been dumped were it to the teams advantage, and I believe Alonso may have been overstepping his mark of late with th chat he’s had. Maybe this is what LdM is alluding to. I think they need a stronger team mate for Alonso, but I am not entirely sure he wants that.

      It’s been a strange couple of days, as I’ve always assumed Alonso was the golden son, but this, if you take it literally, is a bit of a smack down, much along the lines, as I have said, of Hamilton drivers for us, we don’t drive for Hamilton. How about this for a left field; Vettel to Ferrari in 2014 and Alonso to RBR? Seen crazier things happen!

  6. Excellent piece. Michael’s ’12 performance certainly doesn’t get the talk that it should, especially considering that it is the first year that he’s out-raced and out-qualified Nico. Is that because everyone loves to hate on Schumi, or because… OK, I can’t think of any other reason.

    It won’t happen, but I would love to see him in a Sauber next year, especially if the ’13 car is as competitive and kind on its rears as it was this year. Think it over, Michael!

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  8. Maybe if Alonso does not win the championship Montezemelo will put Robert Kubica in the second seat he should be pretty much back up to speed by then.

    • Fraid not – was talking to one of BBC commentators at dinner couple of weeks ago – he’s quite closely connected to Kubica – 2014 best hope was the latest news. You never know though.

  9. Reading between the lines of MSC’s retirement speach, I detect that a door to a drive is ajar for MSC, somewhere other than with Sauber. I also feel big money and politics have been at work re: Lewis, Lauda, Mercedes, LdM and Fernando and of course MSC… I would guess that Mr. Ecclestone will be orchestrating how to break America’s die majority of hard non-f1 fans… and as has been suggested, how to keep Mercedes money in rather than out of F1. MSC has had a great year when you discount the technical DNF’s and the poor car performance… as they say it isn’t over till it is over and I would look forward to supporting MSC in a Sauber or better next year… Again as already alluded to here, if the Sauber improved again next year, with MSC at the wheel, I reckon podiums and even wins would be a certainty.

    • Very true. Think MS would have won in China this year when Perez made the error in the closing laps.

      Re: Lauda – it is middle eastern money that has parachuted him into the AMG F1 team and it surely will end in tears.

  10. @thejudge13. As someone who has watched Schumacher, more or less since he began in F1, I was sitting thinking about his comeback, and wondered how much he needed to be convinced to return and drive for Mercedes GP. As someone with their ear to the ground, as it were, I wonder if you know how much Brawn had to pursued him to return. Many media reports at the time more or less stated that Brawn had approached him and talked him into the idea. They’re both grown up boys, but if true, I wonder if Brawn presently feels some guilt about how it’s all turned out. Ref: poor car and then elbowed out last week.

    • Yes. No. Maybe.My view after chewing this one over a number of times with others.

      Brawn definitely approached Michael, but he didn’t need a huge amount of persuasion. Its taken quite a bit of time to recruit the right personnel to AMG F1. As I’ve written everyone has been hijacked by Lauda, from what I’ve heard RB wouldn’t have pursued Lewis so and can’t help but feel MS get dumped.

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