Michael Schumacher is out of contract at the end of 2012, which has generated much speculation about his future. Will he continue? Will he retire? Will he move teams?
Based on his performance this season so far, Schumacher is unlikely to retire. He is driving well, in an improving car, and seems to be hungry for success. Nonetheless, he alone knows how motivated he is and that will ultimately determine his decision.
Assuming that he carries on, there is then the issue of team choice.
Schumacher and Ferrari have a remarkable history. Five successive Drivers’ Championships with one team is a feat that is unlikely to ever be matched. So it is understandable that there are fans who would like to see Schumacher in a Ferrari once again. It very nearly happened in 2009, when Felipe Massa was sidelined after a horrific accident in Hungary. Schumacher attempted to replace the injured Brazilian, but a lingering neck injury prevented his Ferrari comeback.
When Schumacher did make a return to Formula One, it was with Mercedes led by Ross Brawn, the technical genius behind Schumacher’s success. Schumacher chose to build a championship-winning team with Mercedes, and committed himself to achieving that goal within a three-year contract. He is now in the third year of that contract and the success has not materialised. Nevertheless, Schumacher remains committed to Mercedes and clearly gives his all in pursuit of success on the track. He looks and sounds motivated and seems to have full confidence in the team’s ability to deliver results in the future.
Schumacher is a team player. His success at Ferrari was partly due to his ability to build a strong team around himself, and that is what he is attempting again at Mercedes. If he chooses to stay in Formula One, there is no reason for him to abandon the work he has done at Mercedes only to have to do it all again, whether it be Ferrari or any other team.
Schumacher may choose to continue with Mercedes in 2013 or retire from Formula One, but he will certainly not be going to Ferrari.