I’ve been writing about a lot of other things today but the news from the world of Formula 1 has made me down my pen on all of those and give my initial thoughts on the shock return of Michael Schumacher.
I’d heard the rumours – there was a story on the BBC website yesterday that Schumacher’s spokesperson wouldn’t rule out a possible return in place of the injured Filipe Massa. But did I really think that Ferrari would choose him over both of their reserve drivers and even, possibly, Fernando Alonso whose Renault team have been banned from the next event in Valencia.
Yet, no, Schumacher will be breathing fresh life into what’s already been a compelling Formula 1 season.
In many ways, it’s an odd decision. If it were any other driver who was in his circumstances, my response would be as follows. This is stupid: Schumacher hasn’t driven competitively since 2006, and hasn’t sat in any Formula 1 car for the best part of eighteen months, since when the regulations have been given a complete overhaul. He’ll also have no possibility of stepping into the car for any testing in the meantime, due to the ban on testing between now and the race in Valencia. Schumacher picked up back and neck injuries in a motorcycle crash this year and after three years away from the sport, there’s no doubt that his fitness would have deteriorated. He also is returning to a car that is far from a race-winner and thus it doesn’t make sense for his career. Bringing him back makes no sense.
However, Michael Schumacher was never any normal driver. He’s arguably the fastest man in the history of the sport and if anyone can overcome all of those issues, it’s someone who’s as technically-minded, focussed and determined as Schumacher. It’s a decision that I’m sure is driven out of company loyalty rather than a lust for competition, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be driven from the moment he pulls out the pits for Friday practice in Valencia. I, for one, can’t wait.