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Schumacher’s Return A Welcome Distraction From F1’s Annus Horribilis

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Contributor:
Adrian Musolino
Adrian Musolino
Michael Schumacher. Pic: woolennium

It’s still hard to believe Michael Schumacher is coming out of retirement to race in Formula 1 after a three-year absence to replace the injured Felipe Massa. In a season that has been overshadowed by political infighting, confusing regulations and an even more confusing formbook, his return is great for the sport. 

It certainly adds extra intrigue to the remaining races of the season. 

While the championship battle has reignited in recent rounds with the rise of Red Bull, struggle of Brawn GP and the reawakening of the traditional powerhouses, the shake up in the form-guide this season, the result of the massive regulation changes, has confused many with the likes of McLaren and Ferrari buried in the pack. 

The confusion over KERS and double diffusers did little to widen the sports appeal to those not interested in such technical matters while off-track the sports figureheads seemed destined to tear the sport in two with a very real breakaway threat from the manufacturers. 

Even the week Schumacher confirmed his comeback the sport was gripped by more bleak news with BMW announcing their withdrawal at seasons end. 

Schumacher’s return allows F1 fans to forget about all that controversy and focus on what happens on-track and just what he can achieve in the remaining races.

It’s a fascinating scenario.

Ferrari is not the powerhouse it was during Schumacher’s reign and perhaps this is a good thing for the German, he won’t be expected to win from pole position. 

There’s no disputing his natural ability. His finesse, skill and ability in a Formula 1 car were unrivalled during his reign. 

But how will age and time away from F1 dent this ability?

His return also sets up some fascinating duels.

Believed to have decided to retire when he did so he didn’t have to face Kimi Raikkonen, it will be Schumacher’s performance relative to the Finn that will give us the truest indication of Schumacher’s pace. 

We can also look forward to possible battles with the new guard, the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, drivers who have not raced against the multiple world champion. 

And with Ferrari off the pace, how will a driver who spent so much of his career unchallenged at the front end of the grid cope on his return buried in the mid pack? 

Should he lift Ferrari up the grid, then his stature as a great will only be increased. 

But why is he back?

One look at the remaining races and its not surprising Schumacher was tempted out of retirement.

Spa-Francorchamps and Monza are track’s at which he built his legend.

Interlagos and Suzuka are real drivers circuits, rewarding commitment and ability. 

Valencia, Singapore and Abu Dhabi represent new challenges that Schumacher didn’t face in his career. 

But perhaps the main reason for his return is to reawaken the competitive demon within him that made him such a fierce competitor during his career. 

He isn’t the type of driver to make a half-hearted comeback. 

No matter the reasons why, his return is welcome news and adds much in the way of intrigue to a F1 year that needed the focus of attention to be back on what is happening on track.
 

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