So, Michael Schumacher is retiring from racing at the end of the season. Only those closest to him know the full story, but I don’t think he ‘really’ wanted to retire; meaning he’s not now saying “Thank God I’m retiring”, more “Oh, I’m retiring”.
With Ferrari’s new contract with Kimi, John Todt looking to retire (perhaps), and Massa’s rise to fame, Ferrari didn’t want it to fizzle out as the team started to disintegrate. “Michael,” someone said, “now would be a convenient time. We can close the book on this wonderful story, and start a sequal with a fresh-looking team”. Incidentally (or parhaps coincidentally), Massa is managed by Jean Todt’s son, Nicolas Todt. Perhaps we’ll see another Ferrari/Todt success story.
Undoubtedly, it’s the end of an era. But, being a fan of the Brits, I’m not too sad to see Michael Schumacher retire. Back in the Hill Vs Schumacher days (mid 90s), Schumacher showed that he’s prepared to cheat to win, and he kept that attitude until the end of his F1 career. In my opinion, his career is tainted.
Don’t get me wrong… I was about to say he’s the best driver in my lifetime, but I’m not sure. Yes, he’s capable of going faster on average than anyone else, but his attitude is flawed. He’s developed the wrong instincts.
Maybe ‘instincts’ is the wrong word, can you develop insticts? When you’re in a race and something goes wrong, your race-brain makes the best out of the situation. Often you don’t have time to think about it, you just do it.
Here’s an example. As you approach a corner the car behind you goes up the inside of you. Without thinking, you know that you can’t take the normal line because you’ll hit the other car, so you take a wider line, apex later, and retake your competitor on the exit. You learn this, you don’t have to think about it (you don’t get time), it becomes an automatic response; instinctual. It’s even acceptable to force your oppontent onto the dirty part of the track to gain an advantage with grip.
But, there’s a world of difference between disadvantaging your opponent and deliberately causing a crash to get an advantage, as Michael has done on several occasions. Not least of which was turning in on Damon Hill to so they both failed to finish, handing Michael the Championship.
Another example, you’re off the track on lap one following a pile-up, but the engine is running. Your car is damaged so you know that you can’t get back in the action even if you get back to the pits. An honerable man would switch of the engine and get out of there, but the instincts Michael developed make him hit the gas and block the track to cause a restart, because if there’s a restart he’ll get to use the spare car. And when you understeer at Monacco, when there’s no time for rational thought, the wrong instincts tell you to park the car accross the track to spoil your rival’s lap.
Michael could have been the ‘best’ driver of all time; he just developed the wrong instints. Perhaps ethics is a better word, but that sounds too strong.
Martin Brundle summed it up, “Where Schumacher cannot draw the right line is on track. He cannot see when he crosses the line between tough but fair, and ruthless but foul.
“That is exacerbated by his total belief that he cannot be wrong. He has a default mode in the car: if you’re going to pass him, he will drive you off the road. He even did it to me as a team-mate.”
Perhaps a big change in the Ferrari team will allow F1 to draw a line under the unfortunate goings-on surrounding Michael, Ferrari, and the dubious FIA decisions of late. I hope next year will bring a new era in the sport, so we can concentrate its positive aspects.
Now I have a problem though; how do I support Kimi when he’s going to the F-word team?
Next up… Our All Welcome Karting Meeting