Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Legacy of Michael Schumacher

So F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone believes that the second coming of Michael Schumacher is cause for regret. This recent admission is in stark contrast to opinions expressed when the comeback was announced in 2010,

"Forget about winning races- I have him on my bill for winning the Championship.  It is fantastic for Formula One that he has turned into a 'comeback kid' but at the same time it's good for Michael.  Now he has all his strength together and has 100% motivation that will give us many exciting races in 2010."

Alongside Schumacher's hotly anticipated return to Formula One, came increased interest from viewers and the media, followed by an accession of ratings and revenue, ultimately lining the pockets of Mr Ecclestone. The rise in income facilitated by the German's comeback with Mercedes gave him reason to defend Schumacher when he didn't deliver as expected at the beginning of the 2010 season.  

"Anybody who criticises Michael is wrong." said Ecclestone.  "He deserves better.  I would say don't underestimate Michael.  Give him time to adapt to the new car and the new tyres."

"At the moment he is something of a newbie and needs to get accustomed to the trade again.  Michael would never have returned had he not been convinced he could do the job.  He is not a tourist in the paddock, he is here to win.  And he will win again."

Surely it is no coincidence that following Michael's departure at the end of the 2012 season, with his homecoming being unsuccessful in terms of points, that Bernie Ecclestone has now done a complete U turn regarding his thoughts on the matter.  Did the return not yield the expected revenue?  Not being in the position to win races meant that the hype and interest hoped for by Bernie  never materialised.  

Although his comeback scarcely made an imprint in terms of results, his expertise and experience will no doubt have been of huge benefit to Mercedes in terms of development, a legacy that will bear fruit for Lewis Hamilton.  His second parting leaves the world of Formula One with  memories of a different Michael Schumacher to the one who left in 2006.  During his first stint in the sport, Michael was thought of as robotic in his approach to racing.  His unrelenting desire to win was often misconstrued and mistaken for arrogance.  His second stint and not being in the position to take victories, has created an air of gracious humility with an ever increasing touch of the personable.  Bernie Ecclestone may think that his comeback was a mistake, that "it tarnished his legacy," but the truth is that he leaves with a greater amount of love and respect, which can only decorate his existing achievements further.

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