When Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who is my favourite driver, crashed his car into the tyre barrier in the qualifying race of Hungarian Grand Prix last year and suffered a massive head injury, I was disheartened. A day later when I heard the news that seven time world champion Michael Schumacher would take the wheel, I was rapturous, but only to get skeptical later.
Now, it’s official. He’s racing for Mercedes Brawn GP.
Boy, am I excited?!
Formula one is tougher than ever. The cars’ designs have undergone a meteoric change with KERS technology, considerably small cock-pit and much narrower than the ones seen 2-3 years earlier. It is in one of these cars that Schumi has to race this season.
Had it not been for his neck injury he’d have made his comeback last year itself. “I can never think of racing again,” he had repeatedly said after retirement. Now that he has decided to race again after four years, it’s only obvious that he cannot think of living without racing. Such is his passion. But will he able to live up to his standards? I hope he will.
Come this march he will be racing his 250th Grand Prix, in Bahrain. His comeback, like that of Lance Armstrong to the Tour de France, will be subjected to a lot of public scrutiny and the sport will definitely be much more interesting. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettal, who is my second favourite and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton were just four and six years old respectively when Schumacher first raced a formula one car. But these two have the caliber to outdo their role model; Vettal could be as aggressive as ever if need be and Hamilton, with his swift and controlled maneuvering, could pose a real challenge to everyone on the race track, let alone Schumacher. To top it all, there is Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, last year’s champion Jenson Button (who is racing for McLaren this year along with Hamilton) and two time world champion Fernando Alonso (Ferrari). Well, it’s not going to be easy for Schumi.
Sanath Jayasurya could be playing well in his 40s, Sachin Tendulkar might play for another two years, Dhanraj Pillai might live up to our expectations if he ever makes a comeback, Lance Armstrong could be pedaling well at this age; but making a comeback and driving a formula one car at the age of 41 is not easy, for it is the bravest, toughest, riskiest and the most fascinating sport in the world. And no sportsman goes through as much punishment as a formula one driver. To drive a formula one car one should not only have a lion’s heart, but also a mother’s fingers to steer the wheel to perfection.
To know why formula one is considered THE toughest sport in the world, click HERE. If you haven't heard about this great sport's amazing facts, it's high time you knew them, or else you'll be missing a lot.
The sport’s oldest champion remains the late Argentine Juan Manual Fangio, who won his fifth title at the age of 46. The oldest driver to win a Grand Prix is Italian Luigi Fagioli in 1951 at the age of 53.
But these were not comebacks.
The only two examples are Niki Luada of Austria and Nigel Mansell of UK. But Schumacher can’t afford to take much inspiration from these two.
Niki Lauda, having won the championship in 1975 and 1977, left formula one at the end of 1979, only to return two years later with McLaren and picked up his third title in 1984 at the age of 35.
Nigel Mansell quit after winning the championship with Williams in 1992 and made a brief four-race comeback after Ayrton Senna’s death in 1994, winning only one GP. He then humiliated himself the following year, attempting a full-scale return, when he could not fit into the car. He was 42 years old.
In spite of all these obstacles no one can doubt the extent of Schumacher’s commitment to his passion. He does (and is doing) whatever it takes to make himself competitive with the new generation. He never stopped training in his retirement and he sees no reason why he shouldn’t win this time.
Go Schumi Go!
Go he will because go he must.
With four new teams (Lotus, Campos, Virgin, and US) making their debuts this season, the first race is on 14th March: Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. The lap record on this track is 1:30.252 – set by Michael Schumacher in 2004.
I’m thrilled. Are you?
Copyright © Karthik 2010