• Apr 11th 2010 at 1:36PM
  • 18
It's pretty safe to say that Michael Schumacher isn't quite back up to vintage form. After winning seven World Championships, Schumi spent three years on the sidelines before leaving retirement to take the wheel at the newly-rechristened Mercedes-Benz GP team, headed by his longtime collaborator and strategic mastermind, Ross Brawn. But in the three grands prix so far this season, the world's most accomplished driver has been consistently outperformed by his younger teammate Nico Rosberg. In fact, Schumi's one of only two drivers – along with Renault rookie Vitaly Petrov – to be out-qualified by his wingman in all three races, reinforcing the adage that an F1 driver's teammate is his chief rival.

His lackluster performance has left pundits wondering whether Michael's return was ill-conceived. There's even speculation that even though his contract with Mercedes extends through 2012, Schumacher could bow out by the end of this season.

The top brass at Mercedes, however, have been quick to defend their star driver, blaming themselves before blaming Schumi. Motorsport chief Norbert Haug says Michael is "highly motivated [towards] the long term", with team CEO Nick Fry warning not to "underestimate" Schumacher's potential for a comeback. With sixteen races left to go this season, there's plenty of time to see who'll turn out right.

[Sources: Top Gear, ESPN F1]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      i think it is way too early to judge. and he has been away 3 years, which is a lot in formula 1 or in any other sport. considering that, he has been doing quite well.
      it is funny because tiger woods did his come back last week on the golf course, and everyone was wondering if he would be back to his level or if would need some time to catch up...the guy was away 20weeks, not even 5 months!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Schumi's return to F1 was completely a mistake. And what Schumi should do now to keep his name as a legend is to retire at the end of this season. But this time forever. But driving 3 consecute years won't damage Schumi's reputation I reckon.
      • 5 Years Ago
      His lackluster performance... Um, he made it from the end of the field to 6th if I remember right after he lost his nose on the first lap, and he was in the points on the last race until mechanical failure. Those were lousy things to happen, but they weren't really his fault.

      He might have been doing better before, but he also had the best team and the best car. It takes those along with a great driver to win. No one seems to be able to catch redbull, so I think he's doing pretty good and once his team and car is figured out, I'm sure he will at least be in the top 6 this season. Not too bad for being gone so long.

      • 5 Years Ago
      3 years out is a long time. I'm not his biggest fan but I admire his skill. Give him some time and he'll show the young whippersnappers a thing or two yet.
      • 5 Years Ago
      People are so impatient and so quick to jump to conclusions. There have only been THREE (3) GRAND PRIXS!!!

      Besides, the guy is like a second or so behind the leaders so it's not as if he is at the back of the pack. Just because he isn't right at the front does not at all mean that he is underperforming. You have to give him some time so those pundits should shut up. I doubt that even with the most practice and best training in the world that any of them could perform anywhere near his levels even now when he is "underperforming".
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't know what all the fuss is about.

      Schumi was beaten outright by Alonso 2 years in a row before retirement.

      Do you honestly think he can be faster now than he was in 2006?

      I don't expect him to win another championship, but the man just loves to race, and I respect that 100%.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I dont know to me he seems like he is driving way to conservative and defensive. In other terms SLOW. Unless he wakes up and smells the petrol I dont think most of the other teams need to worry about him. Although as the season progresses the one thing to watch for is if they start to tailor the car to his driving style.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh my, the world is coming to an end because Shumi hasn't been his old self! This is such a non-story (no offense to Autoblog) and we should all just move on.
      • 5 Years Ago
      fact.....schumi was out of the sport for 3 years. it won't be easy for him to just drive and win. just like what he did with ferrari, it took years before he won the championship with them. and when he started winning because he and his engineers develop the car to his driving style, he just kept on winning and that's when the FIA started fiddling with the rules.
      Will he win this year, i don't think so, but i'm hoping so. Why won't he win, because he's enjoying himself and talking to the press more. When he's in the zone, he comes across as arrogant and snobbish but reality is, he was just focused on the race, which he isn't at the moment. I believe merc are just using schumi to develop their car to be a great championship contender and obviously for publicity.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I believe this talk is a little premature, since were just barely into the season. It may be a combination of reasons why Michael has not been on the podium for the past three races, such as the car, nervousness/re-assuring himself of the sport, the team, etc...Or even the fact that Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren are just better teams this season with better drivers.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I second that. Even though he wasn't satisfied with his performance at times we always came out with confidence for next time. It really is in fact quite early to judge. Many things have stopped him from getting ahead. What about the incident he had at the Australian GP where he got held back even though he wanted to overtake? Schumi is just warming up now and by mid-season he will be up there on the podium.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Not a single person here has gone with the author, and I'm with everyone of you, it's just too early and if you consider what he has already achieved it's pretty good from last to 10th in Melbourne. His fastest lap was faster than rosbergs in Bahrain, his first race after 3 yrs with less than 200 laps of practice, wat else can a Man do to prove he still has it. He'll come back and all these stupid authors will be eating their words, he's the same guy who came back from Mid season in 2006 to lead in the penultimate race, the same guy who started from 10th to go back to 22nd and Finsh 4th in his last race setting the fastest lap as well. Don't write him out!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not to mention that Melbourne wasn't exactly Schumacher's fault. He had trouble making that final step into the points, but he might not have been in that predicament in the first place if the contact between Button and Alonso didn't mangle his wing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's only been 3 grand prix's, give him some time.
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