Michael Schumacher returned to Formula 1 racing in 2010 after a “retirement” of 3 years. Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix will be the 38th of his second Formula 1 career, which thus far has not quite lived up to expectations. Yet it has still been a fantastic story for Formula 1, and still has the potential for success.
It was hoped when he returned that Schumacher would immediately be back at the top of Formula 1. He was expected to out-pace team-mate Nico Rosberg, to fight for victories, and to be a championship contender. None of those things happened in 2010. He was soundly beaten by Rosberg throughout the season, did not appear on the podium at all, and finished 9th in the championship (his worst ever result in a full season of racing).
2011 has seen a quicker, better-adapted Michael Schumacher. The car is still off the pace, as it was in 2010, but this year he has used it to much greater effect. In the races, that is. Qualifying remains an area that needs improvement. This year he has fought well against the likes of Hamilton (who is driving a much faster car), beaten team-mate Rosberg a few times, and currently lies 8th in the championship, only 7 points behind his team-mate.
Though 2011 has clearly been a better year, Schumacher still has not stood on the podium (although he came heart-breakingly close in Canada, where the old Schumacher showed himself briefly), has not taken a pole position, and has not been seen by the front of the field as a serious contender for race victories or the championship.
Yet, despite the apparent lack of success since his comeback, Schumacher is still enthusiastic, still working hard with and for his team, and still racing for all he’s worth. He is demonstrating one of the keys to his enormous success, and that is his professionalism. He committed to the task of winning with Mercedes, and he will not rest until that is achieved. As an avid Schumacher fan, I sincerely hope it works out for him. It would be wonderful for Formula 1 to have Schumacher back on the top step of the podium. Sport needs great stories, and Schumacher has the potential to create one. Here’s looking forward to 2012.