Not a shock, nor a disappointment.
Schumacher’s time in F1—this second time—was marked with an other-worldly expectation of the unheralded success that he achieved the first time around and, while the haters hated, it was good to see him speak about how much he enjoyed (and really cherished) his time in the paddock.
The thoughtful, introspective Schumacher comment has always been rare, but it’s refreshing because some indicate that he learned alot, if not more about himself in losing than the hard-wired and scripted win-machine we knew him to be in the early naughts.
I agree that it’s time to step down—and one cannot say that the time has come “early”—because the sheer proof of Schumacher’s past results is overwhelming. He may still have the highest win-to-race percentage of any pilot in the sport. His latest foibles and race issues hearken back to his early time at Ferrari when nothing seemed to go right and his will seemed—too very often—to push circumstances into a sloppy, if not controversial affair. But it was the never-say-die emotional drive of that Michael that I loved
Only this time, there generally wasn’t even the hint of the possibility of the win. And what was controversial before has been spoken as “embarrassing” now as if they don’t remember the old Michael who would push even his most loyal teammate into the wall at 180mph.
So much more has the sport changed. From the tires down, to even the “Schumacher chop”, the expectation has become normalized that the cars will fight in close quarters and the close made-to-order tire partnerships that helped usher Ferrari into the best car do not exist the way they did. Schumacher’s talents were groomed and cut in a different era and that does not diminish his greatness, but even for him it’s results that count in F1.
Thank goodness he didn’t take the Sauber drive, not that it wouldn’t have been good to see him some more. But, in lieu of the fact that he chided his own brother for considering a lesser drive when Ralf was released from Williams, it’s at least a sign that he heeded his own advice and made his way while it was still reasonable.
From his comments the sense is he left something on the table, but shouldn’t he?