Schumacher's comeback not going as planned

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:21 PM ET

Seven-time world driving champion Michael Schumacher’s comeback season has hit more bumps than an Olympic mogul skier.

Now, after the first four Formula 1 races produced only 10 points for Mercedes with Schumacher at the controls, the German automaking giant is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to reverse the slide.

Mercedes officials revealed Wednesday that it is building a brand new car for Schumacher that will make its debut next week at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

This surprising action comes in the face of Schumacher being a sorry second all season to his much junior teammate Nico Rosberg.

Mercedes boss Ross Brawn, however, won’t concede that this should be in any way seen as a panic move, even though Rosberg sits second in the championship with 50 points while Schumacher languishes in 10th.

“It’s foolish to say Michael is where he wants to be, but he’s very determined to succeed,” Brawn told the BBC.

“I think these frustrations are just going to make him try even harder. (He) has not had a fantastic start but we are still in there because no-one else is really dominating either — there is still plenty of opportunity.”

The new car Mercedes has developed for Schumacher has a significantly longer wheelbase, a design that will allow better balance by having the front wheels further away from he cockpit.

Mercedes engineers say that this will create superior aerodynamics in the car, increasing the amount of downforce of the front tires.

Brawn does admit that Rosberg is miles ahead of Schumacher in the race to get the team’s first win.

“Nico’s very close to winning a race, just needs things to fall into place, but that will come,” he said.

“I’m sure he will definitely do it and I think Michael will when we get the car sorted.”

Brawn may very well believe that, but there are others in and around the F-1 padock that disagree.

Revered former world champion Sterling Moss told a London newspaper that Schumacher was “finished” and that he was in danger of destroying his legacy by continuing to place up the grid with Mercedes.

“All he’s going to do is damage his achievements,” Moss said. “People are going to say that he’s past it now, which he probably is.”

Even more damning was Moss saying that Schumacher wasn’t giving his best effort to the Mercedes team

“I’m not sure he is taking F-1 as seriously as he was earlier in his career,” he said.

“You need a compulsion to be there, you can’t just do it for fun, and I don’t think Schumacher has that compulsion anymore.

“To win you need to believe that there is no way anybody else can beat you and, frankly, I don’t think he’s in that kind of mindset. It seems as though this year is just part of his retirement rather than an extension of his career.”

It’s hard to imagine that Schumacher falls into that category considering his history of win-at-all-costs efforts during his championship years.

Brawn said that Schumacher’s critics are off the mark and that the 41-year-old German still has the will to win.

“He is not the sort of guy who will panic when things aren’t going well,” Brawn said.

“Michael is determined to succeed. He was always his own best and worst critic.”

But if Schumacher’s performance in Barcelona shows no significant improvement with his newly equipped Mercedes, look for even his most ardent supporters to begin questioning the wisdom of his comeback.


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