Rolling Start
Motorsport enthusiast and writer Eric Thompson looks at the world of car racing - from Formula 1 to V8 Supercars and beyond

Terminator's return will spice up F1


First up, I would like to send my commiserations out to Felipe Massa and hope he recovers enough to get back to racing F1.

His unfortunate situation of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and attacked by a rogue piece of Rubens Barrichello's car has though, opened the door for the return of the F1 terminator.

I never took to Michael Schumacher as either a person or a driver, because watching a machine, in a machine, was a little tedious. But only he, and he alone, could have taken that dog of a Ferrari (which should have been put down) and turn it into a championship winning car.

And for that feat alone he should be admired. Also, I have a lot begrudging respect for someone who has the emotionally detached ability to deliberately punt another driver off the racetrack in order to win. And he got away with it.

Is Schumacher the greatest driver so far in 60-odd years of F1? Who knows. From my point of view you can't compare Fangio, Hawthorn and Clarke etc with today's drivers - it's pointless. The Schumachers and Sennas of the modern era could no better drive a 1960's car than Fangio etc could drive the video cars of today.

Who I admire the most is definitely Juan Manuel Fangio, the five-time world champion who only Schumacher has more titles than.

For those who are wringing their hands saying Schumacher's return to the Prancing Horse is a media stunt and he's not fit enough - who cares. Fangio won his last title at 46, Nigel Mansell won his title at 39 and Alain Prost won his last title at 38. Schumacher is only 40 and has been actively testing F1 cars and racing motorcycles. If Fangio could muscle an ill handling car (by today's standards) around the bastard grandfather of all tracks, the Nurburgring, in 1957, Schumacher isn't going to have any problem jumping back into a paper dart that's akin to driving a video game.

In what is regarded as one of finest F1 races of all time, after a botched pit stop, Fangio grabbed his Maserati by the scruff of the neck and hurled it around the daunting German track. He had lost a minute to the Ferraris of Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins and after comprehensively destroying the lap record, caught and past the two Englishmen to win.

Schumacher and Fangio have one big thing in common, they both wanted to win at all costs and in my mind that makes you a great driver. Neither wanted to be liked or loved by the media or fans, they just wanted the best car.

When Schumacher left Ferrari Raikkonen won in 2007 and Massa finished second one point back from Hamilton last year, so the car is still no slouch. If I was some of these youngsters who have spent more time in a simulator than at coal face banging wheels and side pods, I'd be nervously looking over my shoulder wondering which side of me Schumacher's going to be thrusting his red nose cone.

As for Button, he'd better up his game as Hamilton has always wanted to know how he'd compare to Schumacher, also, Alonso will rise to the challenge of having Schumie back in the game and finally, Raikkonen might wake up and start racing now the man he replaced at Ferrari is back as his teammate.

I can't wait - it's going to be bloody marvellous. I'm going to put my marker out and say Schumacher will win a race this year - talk about putting the cat among the pigeons.

Eric Thompson

Pictured above: Michael Schumacher's return to Formula One should lift the performance of the other drivers. (AP)




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