Analysis: Liverpool Inspires Schumacher

Former tennis world number one Andre Agassi hobbles tearfully out of the French Open, possibly for the last time. Six-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong says July's race will be his farewell

Analysis: Liverpool Inspires Schumacher

Time catches up with every sportsman, no matter how great or how dominant.

Formula One Champion Michael Schumacher, still without a victory in six races this season and with his hopes of an eighth title looking increasingly forlorn, knows that as well as anyone.

However tempting it may be to add the Ferrari ace's name to the list of sporting icons passing the baton to younger and hungrier opponents after years of supremacy, it would be unwise to do so just yet.

Even if his hopes of a sixth successive Championship are fading, with just 12 points on the board compared to Championship leader Fernando Alonso's 49, the 36-year-old German is not giving up.

The 'Red Baron' can take encouragement from the reds of Liverpool on that.

"I'm a fighter, I always try my best, right up until the end," said Schumacher before this weekend's European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, the closest circuit to his boyhood home near Cologne.

"If you look at soccer, a game has 90 minutes and often the direction it is going in may change even in the last few minutes or during extra time."

Wednesday's Champions League final, with underdogs Liverpool overturning a 3-0 half-time deficit against AC Milan to win on penalties in one of European soccer's greatest comebacks, reinforced that point.

"Quite clearly, yesterday shows as well that you have to fight to the last moment," Schumacher said.

Monaco Disappointment

Last weekend's Monaco Grand Prix was a disappointment for Schumacher, who finished seventh, yet it was also an affirmation.

The manner in which he sliced past Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello on the final lap and almost collided with younger brother Ralf at the line in a desperate bid to seize sixth place suggested that he has lost none of his hunger and determination.

"I am a full-blooded racer," he said afterwards. "We are not on a Sunday outing."

The Nurburgring could well hand McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen a third win in a row on Sunday but it could equally herald Schumacher's return.

His rivals have certainly not written him off.

"I think it is clear to everyone that it has more to do with the tyres than anything else," said Red Bull's David Coulthard in Monaco.

"I don't think he is losing his edge."

The German is now the oldest driver, having made his debut in Belgium in 1991 when Renault's Alonso had only just celebrated his 10th birthday.

His opponents on the starting grid in that race included Champions such as Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell.

Motor racing, despite the effects of G-forces and the rigours of fitness regimes, does not have the gruelling grind of cycling or the burn-out of tennis. Mansell was 39 when he won his title in 1992, Damon Hill 36 in 1996.

Schumacher is one of the fittest drivers and the message that comes through loud and clear whenever he is asked about the future is that he is enjoying himself as much as ever.

"Even a race like Monaco, I have to say I did enjoy it," he said on Thursday. "It was a tough time, I was at the back and I had to fight my way back into position."

Todt Hopes

Those who argued that Schumacher, with more than enough money in the bank and two young children, would head off into the sunset as soon as he stopped winning may find he is around for some time yet.

"If he doesn't win the title this season, then he will be even more motivated next year," said Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone last week.

Ferrari, publicly at least, are not yet ruling out success this year.

"Of course we have hope," said Ferrari boss Jean Todt. "We are working hard to get back to where we were last year. If it will be enough or not remains to be seen.

"It is still possible, difficult but there are still 13 races to go and so many things can happen.

"Let's say the others are quite well ahead but if you take two grands prix back, everything was focused on one driver (Alonso). Then you had Raikkonen, who has won the two last grands prix and immediately things have changed.

"So let's hope we are the ones to win the next two grands prix."

shares
comments
Montagny: Jordan Test a One-Off
Previous article

Montagny: Jordan Test a One-Off

Next article

Barrichello: No More Mr. Nice Guy

Barrichello: No More Mr. Nice Guy
The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche Plus

The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche

OPINION: Everything looked set for Red Bull and Porsche to join forces for the 2026 season, before the marriage between both parties was called off. While at the time it looked like a major coup for Formula 1 in gaining both VW Group powerhouses Audi and Porsche for 2026, Red Bull and Porsche have really been spared a potentially fractious relationship.

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Plus

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2022
The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start Plus

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start

While it launched the F1 career 
of a future world champion, STUART CODLING recalls that the BT60 was also the final nail in the coffin of a once-great marque 30 years ago. Here is its story

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2022
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022