In recent years, a number of Formula One drivers have turned to TV commentary in their retirement. Michael Schumacher does not look set to join them.
Martin Brundle, David Coulthard, Johnny Herbert and Damon Hill are among the well-known names of Formula One racing who will feature in British Formula One coverage this season. Their expertise will certainly add to the experience of watching the BBC and Sky English language feeds throughout the world. Perhaps German broadcasters would like to have a similar offering in their home language.
Schumacher retired from Formula One for the second time at the end of 2012, which makes him an obvious target for any broadcaster looking to improve its offering by adding a driver expert to its panel of experts. As the most successful driver in Formula One history, Schumacher would have invaluable insights into what goes on in the cockpit and, perhaps more importantly, could provide detailed understanding of race strategy – after all, he and technical genius Ross Brawn used brilliant strategies to their advantage during Ferrari’s dominant period from 2000 to 2004.
But the seven-time champion is not interested in joining the media. In an interview with German newspaper Bild, he said he would rather spend time at home with his family, which he was unable to do as much as he might have liked during his long racing career. And, as he himself has said, why would he go into commentating if he were following the Formula One circus around the world? Driving would be more fun.
Schumacher has spent his time since retiring assisting his wife Corinna, who breeds horses and markets her own range of horse blankets. But while he is not maintaining any active involvement in Formula One, his interest in the sport remains. He will be watching the opening race on Sunday from his home in Switzerland. He thinks “the season’s going to be really tight.” Let’s hope he’s right.
Paul di Resta has, quite unexpectedly and very publicly, criticised seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. The young Scot was being interviewed at AUTOSPORT International 2013 and described how Schumacher had gone from being a childhood hero to a nuisance for him in the following words:
“I had so much respect and he was my hero and all the rest, and eventually I got to race against him. Now… I feel a bit different about Michael, cos I’m quite glad he’s retired and out of the way… cos he’s a bit of a pain in the **** on the track…”
Di Resta’s comments appear to be completely unprovoked. Yes, he has raced against Schumacher for the past two seasons, but in that time there have been no particular incidents between the two drivers – if there had, they would surely have been dealt with some time ago.
Perhaps di Resta’s comments were simply badly phrased. Schumacher was known throughout his career as an extremely tough driver who pushed the limits of what was fair on the track, something he learned from drivers like Ayrton Senna who was the man to beat when Schumacher’s career started. It paid off in terms of results, but did not make Schumacher many friends among the drivers. Di Resta could simply be referring to Schumacher as a difficult man to beat, in the process highlighting two different approaches to on-track combat from two generations.
Di Resta and Schumacher are on opposite ends of the scale in terms of Formula One success. Schumacher is Formula One’s most successful driver in history, an icon all over the world and one of the most recognisable and respected people in world sport. Di Resta by contrast is a young driver with much potential, but he has yet to have the equipment to show what he can do in Formula One – in two seasons at Force India, he has a best result of fourth at the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix.
Di Resta may not appreciate sharing the track with Schumacher, but he could learn from the seven-time World Champion. Schumacher has not concerned himself with being popular on the track. Instead, he spent his career leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of victory, and that included the cultivation of a tough and ultra-professional image that was certainly present on the track. The results of Schumacher’s approach to winning are likely to remain unchallenged for some time – seven championships and 91 race victories are numbers that even those at the front of the current grid can barely imagine reaching.
The video of the interview is shown below. Di Resta’s comments about Schumacher start at about 01:27:
With testing for the 2013 Formula One season just four weeks away, it is perhaps time for some speculation as to which teams and drivers are likely to launch strong championship campaigns this year. The usual suspects – Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren as well as their respective drivers – are the obvious choices for title contenders, but there is increasing support for the idea that Mercedes could feature well, particularly with Lewis Hamilton in one of their cars.
A few weeks ago, prominent motorsport journalist Peter Windsor expressed his view that the combination of Mercedes and Hamilton should have a strong 2013, and in the last few days Michael Schumacher – the now-retired seven-time World Champion who has been replaced at Mercedes by Hamilton – stated that he believes the team structure is strong and should enable the team to move forward.
The Sun quoted Schumacher as saying, ”In the first two years we definitely did not have the capability to fight on several fronts… If there were problems we had to take care of them so the development process was interrupted… Only now is there a structure that enables both. It’s a strong structure for 2013 and beyond.”
Hamilton himself has played down suggestions that he could be fighting for victory in 2013 on a regular basis. In December 2012, Hamilton said to Sky Sports News, “I think 2014 has to be the most important year – or the most competitive year – but I don’t see why we can’t try to clinch a few podiums. If we can get some wins next year  … if it just happens to go really, really well then we’ll be smiling, but we’ll see.”
Hamilton’s move from McLaren to struggling Mercedes was met with mixed reactions, with some commentators suggesting that it could be a massive mistake. He will no doubt be intent on proving his doubters wrong, which can only work in Mercedes’ favour as it will add extra motivation to his already significant talent. It would certainly be quite a story for Hamilton to turn Mercedes around and take the title in his first season with the team.
Motorsport journalists periodically take on the near-impossible task of producing lists of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time. Invariably Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna feature high up on the list, with the remaining spots varying depending on who is involved in ranking the drivers.
Italian magazine Autosprint has produced a list of the top ten Formula One drivers, which places Fangio first ahead of Schumacher. Interestingly, the only current driver in the list (Schumacher is no longer current, having retired at the end of 2012) is newly-crowned triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel.
The Autosprint list reads as follows:
1. Juan Manuel Fangio
2. Michael Schumacher
3. Sir Jackie Stewart
4. Ayrton Senna
5. Jim Clark
6. Alain Prost
7. Sir Stirling Moss
8. Alberto Ascari
9. Niki Lauda
10. Sebastian Vettel
Each of the drivers listed has, in some way, redefined the sport within his era. Of those on the list, the only driver not to have won the World Championship is Sir Stirling Moss, who raced alongside Fangio at Mercedes in 1955 and finished second in the World Championship for four consecutive seasons from 1955 to 1958.
Of the current crop of drivers, 2005 and 2006 Champion Fernando Alonso is perhaps the most likely to break into this list, although he would certainly need to win the World Championship with Ferrari to do so.
For the sixth year in succession, the German team of Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel has won the Race of Champions Nations Cup. This year’s victory was the result of a 2-0 thrashing of team France in the final.
Germany really does have the dream team of all dream teams – the most successful of all Formula One drivers and the newly crowned triple Formula One World Champion. So it comes as no surprise that Schumacher and Vettel won yet again. Their dominance in the final is perhaps a little surprising, considering who they were up against.
Team France consisted of Sebastain Ogier (2011 individual event Race of Champions winner) and Romain Grosjean who is a current Formula One driver and has displayed significant speed in the this year’s Formula One World Championship. But they had no answer to Germany – Schumacher dispatched Grosjean in the first heat of the final and Vettel won the “battle of the Sebs” in heat two to seal the team victory.
The Nations Cup took place yesterday, but the action is not over. Today sees the drivers compete in the individual Race of Champions, a title neither Schumacher nor Vettel has ever won although Schumacher has lost in the final twice. Vettel has not yet featured in a RoC individual final.
Today’s individual event sees drivers compete in groups before the top driver proceed to a knock-out stage. The groups are as follows:
Sebastian Ogier – World Rally Championship and 2011 RoC winner
Jamie Whincup – Four time V8 Supercar Champion
David Coulthard – 13 F1 Grand Prix victories
Benito Guerra – 2012 Production World Rally Champion
Tom Kristensen – eight time Le Mans 24-hour winner
Andy Priaulx – three time World Touring Car Champion
Ho-Pin Tung – F1 test driver and fastest RoC Asia qualifier
Nattavude Charoensukawattana – RoC Thailand winner
Sebastian Vettel – triple F1 World Champion
Jorge Lorenzo – double MotoGP World Champion
Mick Doohan – five time 500cc MotoGP World Champion
Tin Sritrai – RoC Thailand runner-up
Michael Schumacer – seven time F1 World Champion
Ryan Hunter-Reay – 2012 Indycar Series Champion
Kazuya Ohshima – Second fastest RoC Asia qualifier
Romain Grosjean – Current F1 driver with three 2012 podiums