The critics have been silenced, and silenced good.
Michael Schumacher retired a seven-time world champion, but his eighth title narrowly escaped him right down to the line at his farewell grand prix in 2006. Retiring after losing the championship two years in a row to a younger Fernando Alonso, many started asking if the driver that dominated the sport for so long still had it in his, ahem, "advancing" age.
Those pundits got their answer when Schumacher briefly returned to F1 in taking the wheel of the Ferrari F2007, this year's title-winning car, at an official FIA-sanctioned Formula One testing event in Spain this week. The focus of the event, the first since the end of the season, was to give the teams a chance to run the cars without traction control and with the standardized engine control unit (ECU), as mandated by the 2008 regulations.
Schumacher drove for the first two of the three day test session, and on both days his lap times sat at the very top of the time sheets. Unfortunately, spokespersons were quick to point out that this did not herald Michael's return to the grid, just a one-time event. So the rest of the drivers can sleep easier.
[Sources: Italiaspeed and Ferrari]