Come 1600 CET on Sunday afternoon in Hungary, two things were absolutely clear: Michael Schumacher may have lost some of his once-vaunted skills sets, but his customary ruthlessness had mellowed little with time; and that Article 39.1* is creating a far bigger headache for the FIA than could ever have been imagined when the clause was framed back in 2002.
The German's antics have been diissected across the world, so need no amplification within these pages - save to suggest that he reflect on his comeback and the precise reasons for it, for there seems to be more to his return than meets the eye.
Ditto Mercedes, who must surely by now have learned that the 'dream team' of Schumacher and Silver Arrows has deteriorated into a nightmare quicker than Schumacher eased Barrichello towards the pit wall on Sunday, and that the time has come to stop spinning the situation in the hopes of selling sufficient new product to justify Schumacher's astronomical stipend.
Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher, Hungarian GP © Sutton
When sections of the German media openly suggest Mercedes would be better served by present third driver Nick Heidfeld - who was their country's invisible man during Schumacher's heyday - than by the seven-time world champion, the time has surely come for management to sit up and take note, yet excuse after excuse for Schumacher's poor showings are trotted out throughout race weekends. A sign of good management is an ability to cut losses regardless of collateral implications, and the time seems over-ripe for that.
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South African-born Dieter trained as industrial engineer before holding down a variety of senior motor industry marketing and manufacturing positions. At the age of 40 he decided to follow his passion, and became the first and only South African journalist to cover Formula 1 regularly. Dieter joined AtlasF1 at the beginning of 2004 – a year prior to its merger with Autosport – and his regular column offers an intriguing analysis of F1’s politicking and commercial chicanery. Although now also proudly Belgian, he gives his domicile as "Wherever F1 duplicity lurks".@RacingLines More features by Dieter Rencken