The ‘second career’
The Formula 1 career of Michael Schumacher he comes often divided into two parts, almost as if they were two different pilots. The first from 1991 to 2006 and the second from 2010 to 2012, when the German decided to return to the wheel after retiring three years earlier, accepting the challenge offered to him by Mercedes and the then team principal of the Brackley team Ross Brawn. Under the guidance of his companion of a thousand battles, however, the Kaiser’s adventure was not exciting. In three years Schumacher never managed to score more championship points than his then teammate, Nico Rosberg, and only finished on the podium once, in the 2012 Valencia GP.
Many consider that three-year period an almost ‘annoying’ appendage to the record-breaking career of the seven-time world champion. A brackets that you shouldn’t be too proud of. But those who worked closely with Schumacher in those years – which laid the foundations for Mercedes’ future success cycle – think differently. It is the case of Norbert Haugformer head of the Mercedes motorsport area who was first Schumacher’s opponent – when the German raced for Benetton and Ferrari – and then his employer during his period under the Mercedes brand.
Haug in defense of the Kaiser
In a recent interview Haug stated that even the over-40 Schumacher had not lost his great talent which had always distinguished him in the most brilliant years of his career. “In his senior year, when many described him as no longer competitive, achieved pole position in Monaco, the mother of all tracks. Whoever was able to get pole position with that car lost none of his ability“, Haug said in an interview with the German broadcaster ntv.
According to Haug the main problem for Schumacher was related to type of tires present on the grid in the years of his return to GPs. No longer the grooved ones, used by Schumacher between 1996 and 2006, but the slick, which the champion from Kerpen had only experienced in the very first years of his career in the Circus. Furthermore, the fact that even the supplier had changed – since 2011 no longer Bridgestone, but Pirelli – did not help the former Ferrari star: “I heard a lot of people say at the time that Michael wasn’t who he used to be, but he certainly was. At first he didn’t know tires; before then he had only used grooved tyres. It was even a different brand and had to adapt to slick tyres“.
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