Michael Schumacher; Don't Do It
I’m well aware that F1 could really do with some good publicity right now. Off the track pretty much everything that could go wrong has gone wrong in the last couple of years; from the McLaren/Ferrari scandal, to Honda’s withdrawal, through Renault’s antics and to the withdrawal of Toyota and BMW with Renault possibly not far behind them. Whatever that good publicity eventually arrives for please let it NOT be for one thing; Michael Schumacher please do not come back to F1.
I have never been Schumacher’s biggest fan, looking back at ’94, ’97 or the years of Schumacher domination and the way Ferrari played them still brings feeling of distaste back to me. I’ll always acknowledge he is one of the finest drivers F1 has ever seen, he always drove hard and he always gave it everything he had. Despite the fact he wasn’t my personal cup of tea I don’t want him to come back and tarnish that legacy.
Now there’s a chance he could come back and prove competitive and that’s fine but if he’s not challenging for the championship it won’t be the same. Does anyone want to see Michael come back and flounder around like Nigel Mansell circa 1995? Admittedly he probably won’t need the car modifying just to get in it but the effect would be the same; watching your sporting heroes drag it out for one year too many is excruciating.
Mansell was my idol as a young boy; I even asked my Mum to have my middle name legally changed to Nigel and I was so happy when I heard he was making a comeback. A little part of my love for him died that season in the McLaren, he was a shell of the Red Five I’d grown up loving.
It happens in every sport; is anyone really enjoying Lance Armstrong being not quite good enough in the Tour de France? Did anyone enjoy Gazza’s failures every time he decided to leave the bar for another comeback attempt? It’s awful to watch an idol come back and be a shell of what he once was.
Now I know sometimes people come back and do well, Michael Jordan came back to basketball and added more championships to his resume, Brett Favre is currently enjoying a career year with the Minnesota Vikings and there are more examples if you look for them.
They are the exceptions that prove the rule however, I really don’t want to see Michael Schumacher do what Peter Beardsley did for my local Hartlepool United. Beardsley decided to play one more season and in his first game scored a volley that ranks as the best goal I’ve ever seen. The rest of the year he occasionally produced small pieces of magic but he didn’t have it on tap like he used to.
I’m sure if Schumacher came back he might win a race or two, put up some good results and make Nico Rosberg look silly every now and then but how’s it going to look on the weekends when Rosberg is making Schumacher look like a dinosaur? Would it look good for a seven time world champion to be getting pounded by a guy who to this point doesn’t have a single F1 victory to his name?
F1 needs to move on and leave the Schumacher era behind, as a driver. It needs to look at finding the next Schumacher, not bringing back a legend who is three years removed from his last race. Schumacher has his place in F1, any team should want him, but not in their car. He could even start his own team, give the current ecomic crisis a couple of years to play out sponsors would be falling over themselves to get involved with Schumacher F1.
Schumacher needs to move on and leave the F1 era behind, if he still wants to go racing he could do Le Mans or take on Kimi Raikkonen in the forests in WRC or try and take out Juan Pablo Montoya in a NASCAR or show the world how useless Ralf is in the DTM. (Although Ralf does a good enough job of the latter without any help in all fairness.)
Michael Schumacher; stay home or get in a cockpit of anything other than an F1 car. Don’t bring your legend out of retirement because F1 wants you back. Don’t tarnish a legacy of dominance and greatness. Don’t ruin a little part of many kids’ memories of their childhood idol. Just Don’t.