Whitmarsh: Extended Schumacher comeback is good for F1

Whether or not Michael Schumacher stays in F1 beyond 2012 is a hot topic.

The seven time world champion has been more competitive in 2012 compared with the first two seasons of his comeback, culminating in pole at Monaco recently. But luck has not been on his side, and he has only 2 points to show for his efforts.

Not only that, the 43-year-old’s name has been a regular topic of conversation in the stewards room so far in 2012, with some rumours hinting officials are questioning the great German’s age, vision and reflexes. And he has been vocal about not enjoying the new emphasis on the heavily-degrading and difficult-to-understand Pirelli tyres.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone hopes he will stay.

“He’s still a big name,” the 81-year-old told Germany’s Auto Bild, “even though we’d all rather have a successful Schumacher than an unsuccessful one.”

Another supporter is McLaren’s Jenson Button.

“Michael’s come in for a lot of criticism over the last couple of years since he’s been back,” the 2009 world champion is quoted by AFP news agency. “Sometimes it takes time to feel comfortable with a car and comfortable with the people you’re working with, but I think he put a great lap together in Monaco, didn’t make any mistakes and he obviously deserved it very much. It proved a few things too didn’t it?” added Button.

Button’s boss Martin Whitmarsh has also admitted he would like to see Schumacher back at the top.

“I am firmly convinced that Michael is going to win a race this year,” the McLaren team principal told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. “Particularly after the past weekend (in Monaco), anyone who underestimates him would be a fool.

“He demonstrated once again, especially to his critics, that he is far from being too old,” said Whitmarsh.

And the Briton said any discussion about whether Schumacher was ever a great driver is “absurd”.

“He is one of the best we have ever seen,” Whitmarsh insisted.

As for a new contract for the Mercedes driver, Whitmarsh said: “Of course it would be good for our sport. He is a world renowned brand that people know in every corner of the globe.”

Speaking to Kleine Zeitung newspaper, Schumacher’s brother Ralf also insists that Schumacher’s comeback has been good for “the whole of formula one”.


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