Coulthard: Time is running out for Schumacher to prove he’s still got it

David Coulthard has hinted that the success of Michael Schumacher’s Formula One return may hang in the balance, after a disappointing drive in Canada.

Schumacher has so far failed to recapture the kind of form that won him seven world championships, in a record-breaking career which spanned from 1991 until 2006. His drive in last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix appeared to epitomise this, as the German was bombarded by critics for his defensive driving.

As a result, Coulthard believes that Schumacher is clearly struggling and that his performance in Canada was the tip of the iceberg.

“He has won a record seven times on the Ile Notre-Dame but in all honesty he looked a shadow of his former self on Sunday,” the Scot wrote in his column for the Daily Telegraph.

“He pitted three times and was still lapping over 4 seconds off the pace in his final stint. He just could not get his tyres working and in my view resorted to some pretty questionable racing in an effort to hold position. He was particularly fortunate to escape sanction for the late collision with Massa, his old protégé at Ferrari. The rules are clear: you cannot make two moves under braking. I’m not sure why they let him off.

“I’m not beating up on Michael. We have had our differences in the past but I have tremendous respect for him. And I have consistently said we need to give him half a season before we judge his comeback. But with eight races gone and 11 to go, we are getting dangerously close to that tipping point.

“What is wrong with him? I don’t know but something is clearly missing. It seems a case of one step forward, two steps backwards at the moment. I don’t think the reactions have gone, his fitness is fine and to be fair to him he has shown glimpses of his old race craft; the move on Alonso on the final lap in Monaco was like a visitation from the ghost of Schumi past.”