Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher’s ruthless treatment of Rubens Barrichello in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix showed that he has lost none of his competitive instinct, despite spending three years away from the sport.
But it also highlighted the reason why the German can never be considered as the greatest Formula 1 driver of all-time. That title should go to Ayrton Senna.
While the Brazilian was notorious for regularly pushing the boundaries in defence of his position, that style of racing was more or less accepted in his era.
However, following Senna’s death in 1994 at Imola, the FIA has taken a harder line on safety and rightly punished those who have pulled off dangerous manoeuvres.
Schumacher has never shied away from controversy. He won his maiden world title in 1994 after colliding with Damon Hill in the final race of the season in Adelaide, Australia. The accident forced both drivers to retire, gifting Schumacher the title by a single point.
Three years later, he crashed into the side of Jacques Villeneuve at Jerez in an attempt to remove the Canadian and prevent him from winning the title. This time he failed and was promptly disqualified from the championship standings.
Then, in 2006, he infamously ‘parked’ his Ferrari at the Rascasse corner in Monaco to prevent Fernando Alonso from taking pole position.
Schumacher was ruthless, and still is. The only difference now is that he’s doing it for a few points rather than race victories.
Admittedly, he doesn’t have the car to challenge for victories, but with team-mate Nico Rosberg consistently outscoring him, Schumacher is being made to look very silly and is sadly showing no signs of recapturing his former glory.
So this begs the question: should he quit? My asnwer would be no, not yet anyway.
Today, he came out and apologised for his actions regarding the move on Barrichello and rightly so. Now, he needs to come back at Spa later this month and show people that he still has what it takes to win.
While his comeback hasn’t been great in terms of points scored, his mere presence has encouraged today’s current crop of drivers to deliver their ‘A-game’, while fans old and new have become enthralled in the sport once more.
Schumacher still has a lot to give the sport. He just needs to accept that the car he has won’t get any better until next year. He needs to stop taking risks on strategy and making crazy decisions on the set-up of his car.
Maybe then he won’t have to make these rash manoeuvres and he can focus on driving the car well.
What do you think? Should Schumacher quit? Should he be banned for one or two races following his antics in Hungary? Let us know your thoughts below...