Mario Andretti says Michael Schumacher’s three-year return to F1 was a success because he enjoyed it.
“He never lost the love and joy of racing,” Andretti, the naturalised American who won his F1 title in 1978, said at the US grand prix on Sunday. “That’s the thing I most admire,” added the 72-year-old, who at the brand new Circuit of the Americas interviewed podium champions Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.
A long way down the results sheet, in an abysmal sixteenth place, was the seven time world champion Schumacher, whose failed comeback with Mercedes will finally end in Brazil next weekend.
“Of course his comeback was not a great success,” Andretti is quoted by SID news agency, “but the important thing is that he enjoyed it. And if he does retire for good, we will miss him. He’s still the best of all time,” he added.
As for the 2012 title head-to-head between Vettel and Alonso, Andretti admitted he probably admires the achievements of Ferrari’s Spaniard a little more.
“Alonso has no weaknesses,” the Italian-born former Ferrari driver is quoted by El Pais, a Spanish newspaper. “His car was always outpaced but he has taken full advantage of every opportunity.
“Vettel’s talent is unquestioned, but clearly he has the best car. Fernando deserves the title more because he has had the most personal influence on the results. Early on, Vettel was not happy with his car; he only began to dominate in the last third of the championship, when Red Bull found a way to improve the RB8.
“Now, Webber is also very fast, and when both drivers in a team are ahead it means the car is very competitive. Fernando thinks he deserves it more because he is at a disadvantage compared to Vettel, and I agree with him,” added Andretti.
Fellow F1 legend Niki Lauda, however, warned the sport to brace for more and more Vettel success.
“It’s not only that Seb can break all of Michael’s records — he will break them!” he told Bild newspaper. “Red Bull can give him the best car again and again.”