Analysis: Schumacher Title Hopes Still in the Balance

Michael Schumacher heads for his home Grand Prix in Germany next week knowing that a mistake or misfortune could cost him a record sixth Formula One Championship.

Analysis: Schumacher Title Hopes Still in the Balance

Michael Schumacher heads for his home Grand Prix in Germany next week knowing that a mistake or misfortune could cost him a record sixth Formula One Championship.

With five races remaining, the Ferrari driver leads McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen by seven points -- a situation that means the title cannot be decided before the Italian Grand Prix in September at the earliest.

In fact, it is even likelier to go down to the wire after Sunday's British Grand Prix thriller at Silverstone. So volatile is the top of the table, despite Raikkonen remaining Schumacher's constant and closest rival, that each race raises a new scenario.

After France, with Ralf Schumacher riding high following his second successive win for Williams, Germany was swept with excitement at the looming battle of the brothers.

But Ralf failed to score any points at Silverstone, his first blank of the season, and went from within striking range of his older brother to 16 points behind.

Suddenly, his Colombian teammate Juan Pablo Montoya moved into the reckoning in third place overall after finishing runner-up to Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello in a race full of overtaking and drama with a protestor on the track.

Asked how he rated his chances now, Monaco race winner Montoya replied: "Probably better than last weekend but, you know, anything can happen.

"If the next race I win and Michael DNF's (Did Not Finish) then I am four points behind and if he wins and I DNF he is 24 ahead. So I don't know. Just wait and see what happens."

Youngest Champion

Raikkonen, who clawed a point back from Schumacher by finishing third on Sunday to the German's fourth place, could yet become the youngest champion in the history of Formula One.

"It is still open," the 23-year-old said of the title race. "We still have a good chance and the seven points now is one less than before this race. You never know what happens in races and it can turn around completely very quickly in the next race.

"We are pushing hard as a team and we are serious and we will see if we can manage... hopefully we can get it back before the end of the season."

The new points scoring system, with a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 format instead of the old 10-6-4-3-2-1, favours the consistent finisher and inflicts a heavy punishment on any driver who suffers a retirement.

If Schumacher were to fail at the next race at Hockenheim, as he did in his home German Grand Prix in 2001 and 2000, Raikkonen would go top even if he finished only second.

It is all a far cry from last year, when Ferrari were dominant and Schumacher had already wrapped up the Championship by this stage.

Ferrari have still won five of 11 races so far this season, but the victories have been spread out far wider than they have for years with seven drivers from four teams winning races.

"They looked a bit stronger, not that much stronger," said Montoya of Ferrari's performance at Silverstone. "From what I remember in testing and long runs they were a lot stronger."

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn summed up the challenge ahead: "The rest of the season will be difficult, but we have shown what we can do and that we are capable of beating the opposition."

shares
comments
Cristiano da Matta Q&A

Previous article

Cristiano da Matta Q&A

Next article

Bernie lays into the BRDC...again

Bernie lays into the BRDC...again
Load comments
How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Plus

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season? Plus

Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season?

OPINION: With Valtteri Bottas already signed up for 2022, all eyes are on the race for the second seat at Alfa Romeo next year. Antonio Giovinazzi is the current incumbent, but faces a tough competition from appealing short and long-term prospects

Formula 1
Sep 15, 2021
The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence Plus

The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence

OPINION: Daniel Ricciardo has long been considered one of Formula 1’s elite drivers. But his struggles at McLaren since switching from Renault for 2021 have been painful to watch at times. Yet he’s recovered to banish those memories with a famous Monza win – built on a critically important foundation

Formula 1
Sep 14, 2021
How Verstappen is ruining his F1 title battle with Hamilton Plus

How Verstappen is ruining his F1 title battle with Hamilton

OPINION: The Italian GP clash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen followed a running theme in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight. Their close-quarters battles have often resulted in contact - and although Hamilton has shown a willingness to back off, Verstappen must learn to temper his aggression

Formula 1
Sep 14, 2021
Italian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Italian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Two drivers produced maximum-score performances as, for the second year in a row, Monza threw up an unpredictable result that left several others ruing what might have been

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Ricciardo was set for Monza F1 triumph even without Verstappen/Hamilton crash Plus

Why Ricciardo was set for Monza F1 triumph even without Verstappen/Hamilton crash

The clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was the major flashpoint the 2021 Italian Grand Prix will be remembered for. Yet by this point, race leader Daniel Ricciardo had already done the hard work that would put him in position to end his and McLaren's lengthy win droughts, on a memorable afternoon in Monza

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Italian GP success is on for McLaren even if Verstappen dominates Plus

Why Italian GP success is on for McLaren even if Verstappen dominates

For the second time in 2021, McLaren will line up for the start of a grand prix from the first row. It knows it has the chance of “glory” if things go well for Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris at the start of the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, but even if they just maintain their grid positions, signs from the rest of the Monza weekend suggest success is very possible for Formula 1’s other orange army

Formula 1
Sep 12, 2021
The F1 media favourite who lifted a broken Lotus Plus

The F1 media favourite who lifted a broken Lotus

Graham Hill was nearly 30 when he made his Formula 1 debut. NIGEL ROEBUCK examines the life of a gifted racer whose talismanic personality defined an era

Formula 1
Sep 11, 2021