It was a comeback which was welcomed by F1 fans all over the world and racing fraternity viewed the great man’s return as the best thing that has happened to the Formula One in 2009 but sadly it was not to be. Michael Schumacher has done the unthinkable. First by announcing a comeback and then abandoning any such plans. Strange isn’t it…But that is exactly what you might have thought when a certain Barack Hussein Obama threw his hat in the ring to seek temporary accommodation on a legendary piece of Washington real estate which no man of colour could, until then, claim as his home address in the famous Land of the Free. The only difference is that Obama is still in White House making plans for reviving the US economy and Schumacher won’t be racing the F60 looking for his 91st win of his career.
ABANDONING COMEBACK Plans
Schumacher had hoped to stand in for the injured Felipe Massa in Valenica, but neck pain caused by a motorcycle accident earlier this year, has forced him to abandon his comeback plans.
“Yesterday evening, I had to inform Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo and team principal Stefano Domenicali that unfortunately I’m not able to step in for Felipe,” explained the seven-time world champion in a statement on his official website. “I really tried everything to make that temporary comeback possible, however, much to my regret it didn’t work out.”
“I am disappointed to the core. I am awfully sorry for the guys of Ferrari and for all the fans which crossed fingers for me. I can only repeat that I tried everything that was within my power. All I can do now is to keep my fingers crossed for the whole team for the coming races.”
On July 25th Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was airlifted to a hospital after a high-speed crash during qualifying for Formula One’s Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday. On one side we had Ferrari fans worried for Massa’s health but on the other hand they were more eager to know who would be replacing him in Spain. The name that was doing the rounds was none other than the Speed King Michael Schumacher. Though he was apprehensive about making a comeback for his favourite team he finally agreed to race and fans all over the world couldn’t have asked for more to put more excitement to the current formula 1 season which has by far been very boring. Everyone from the racing fraternity welcomed the great man’s return as the best thing that has happened to the Formula One in 2009.
When Schumacher announced his comeback he made it clear that he is not taking the injured Felipe Massa’s place in the Ferrari team for a bit of weekend fun on the Valencia street circuit and was bloody serious about delivering what he can, at age 40, to a team to which his loyalties are beyond question.
Many people raised the question “why is he doing it?” .What does he have to prove in a sport in which he has been widely acclaimed as one of the greatest of all time after winning a record seven world championships and 91 Grands Prix? His Comeback was as dramatic as his announcement of retiring after he had won his 5th and last race at Italy way back in 2006.
Comebacks are part of the rhythm of every sporting year. Athletes make comebacks all the time. But when a Bjorn Borg or a Lance Armstrong or a Michael Schumacher attempts it, the story is as big as it can get and it is something that cannot be derisively dismissed as a potentially doomed attempt to recreate past magic.
Like actors who cannot ever live without the smell of greasepaint and the roar of the audience, sportsmen find it impossible to survive away from the field of action, away from all the adulation and the adrenaline-induced high.
Relishing the challenge
The challenge for an athlete making a comeback is in equal parts physical and mental. And on both fronts, Schumacher believed that he has it in him to face the challenge from far younger men who have been at it week after week in the two and a half years he has been away from the sport.
But gym fitness and the confidence that no doubt comes with astounding past accomplishments may not be enough in the heat of the battle during a season when testing between the races has been banned. No matter all these drawbacks, almost everybody involved with the sport — one that has been blighted this season by political infighting and myriad other problems — has welcomed the great man’s return as the best thing that has happened to the Formula One in 2009.
For, Schumacher at his peak was an exceptional champion with a rare combination of winning attributes — sublime skills, mind-boggling speed, a flawless technique, extraordinary physical fitness, an almost mystical level of motivation and, most of all, near-superhuman courage in the face of adversity.
“A Formula One car is really an animal because it responds to different kinds of treatment. A highly bred racehorse, a thoroughbred in its sensitivity and nervousness,” said Jackie Stewart, a three-time world champion, long years ago.
In the entire history of the legendary Italian racing team, no single driver has ever been as wonderfully attuned to its cars’ sensitivities and nerves as Schumacher was. Stewart’s “thoroughbred” animals willingly obeyed the German maestro’s commands time and again like well-trained police dogs.
One man who would be utterly disappointed at this latest decision would be Lewis Hamilton who was delighted to be able to pit himself against one of the best drivers in the history of the sport, saying it will be “an honour and a privilege” to race against Schumacher. Following the news that Michael Schumacher has had to call off his planned return to Formula One racing, Ferrari have announced that test driver Luca Badoer has been drafted in to race at the European Grand Prix later this month.