The best part of Michael's return, is outlined below. It would make a good poll on the website as to who will win this intra team battle. Nice that Peter Windsor can write something that doesn't make me gag.
WINDSOR: Ravenous Schu Returns
Written by: Peter Windsor
London (GBR) I agree with Lewis Hamilton: Michael Schumacher’s return is good news for just about everyone. It’s good for Felipe Massa, who in his recuperation won’t have to worry about some young hotshot stealing his seat; it’s good news for Ferrari as a team, who will have a third (and not altogether uneducated) view of their current set-up; it’s good news for a badly-wounded F1 (because everyone loves “a return”); and, most of all, it’s good news for Michael himself, who has gone out of his way in retirement not to look like a caged lion…and has failed dismally. About the only person for whom this isn’t good news is Kimi Raikkonen: alongside Michael, Kimi will come under a level of scrutiny that might ultimately oblige him... to walk away.
Formula One SPEED Reporter and Team US F1 Sporting Director Peter Windsor. (Photo: LAT Photographic) » More Photos
As much as Michael has apparently being enjoying his life at home and his somewhat dodgy, somewhat dangerous, fledgling motorcycle career, from where I sit he looked from day one like an athlete who retired too early. So why did he retire in the first place? That is a good question. Over the past couple of years I’ve asked several people close to him – and Michael himself – but not once have I received a straight answer. There’s talk about “the right time” and “Felipe’s career” but none of it has added up to a picture that makes any sort of sense. I mean, you don’t retire from F1 and then set fastest lap times at Barcelona tests – not if you’ve retired for the right reasons.
So did Michael retire for the wrong reasons? I suspect so. I suspect that he felt unloved and squeezed-out at Ferrari when they decided to sign Kimi Raikkonen over the winter of 2005. Kimi was at McLaren-Mercedes at the time, and looking like a world champion-to-be; Michael had been all-dominant at Ferrari but 05 had been a difficult year. He couldn’t go on forever; he had to stop sometime.
The mistake Ferrari made was to take on the role of controlling that time-frame for Michael. In reality, Michael should have been left to have found his own “glide-path”. As Ferrari saw it, they needed to “take control of the future” and steal the initiative.
By investing in Kimi as a race driver for 2007-10 they effectively gave Michael an ultimatum: accept the new regime (one in which Michael’s championship-winning “Number One” driver policy would be thrown out the window) or plan your retirement. He was trapped. There was nowhere to go. And so, taking the dignified line, he announced his retirement at the end of 2006. His reasons? He didn’t want to stand in the way of the burgeoning career of Felipe Massa. In other words, with Kimi arriving, there wasn’t room for the three of them…
Michael over the past two and a half years has made it obvious that he is much closer to Felipe than he is/was to Kimi. And Kimi, as is his way, has made it equally clear that he doesn’t need the help of a retired World Champion. Fast-forward, now, to Valencia, 2009, with Kimi on the wane but with a fourth, highly-paid, Ferrari season still ahead of him. For their part, Ferrari until Hungary were seriously contemplating major changes for 2010: contract or not, Kimi would perhaps be sidelined and replaced by Fernando Alonso.
If Mark Gene was driving the other Ferrari in Valencia (as he might well have felt entitled to be doing, bearing in mind that he is both Ferrari’s nominated third driver and Spanish...) I would be writing right now that Kimi’s career had been saved. He would have become the de facto team leader at the exact moment when Ferrari finally had a decent car. The momentum could easily have taken him into the winter.
Instead, Kimi now has to out-qualify and out-race the greatest driver of his era – a Michael who quite obviously was not ready for retirement and will therefore be returning with the appetite of a hyena emerging from a hunger-strike. For Kimi, there is only downside: if he beats Michael it will be because he should have beaten the old man; if he is beaten by Michael... it’s all over.
And of this you can be sure: Michael will be wanting to beat Kimi.
For a multitude of reasons.