More than 2000 days after his last pole, Michael Schumacher’s qualifying triumph in Monaco has turned the speculation on its head. Now, his critics have been silenced, and the pundits are having to consider the rising prospect of an even further extended tenure for the sport’s elder statesman.
So it was with a smile that the great German batted away what must be a heartening round of new rumours.
“You imagine that just because of one result I’ve done at this moment I’m suddenly restarting or opening a different subject? No, that’s not the case,” he insisted.
Team boss Ross Brawn, however, swung the door open.
“If Michael keeps going like this then he can be with us forever,” the delighted Briton enthused to Auto Motor und Sport, having admitted to shedding a tear at Saturday’s result.
Germany’s Bild newspaper said the “old Schumi” is back.
“We always believed in Michael,” Mercedes’ Norbert Haug is quoted as saying. “We knew that he was still on it.”
As for the forthcoming talks about a new deal for the 43-year-old, Haug is quoted by Welt newspaper: “We are in no hurry.”
Referring to the 2013 driver market, he added: “It’s like a chess game — when there’s movement, you have to follow.”
New deal or not, Schumacher’s pole triumph – even though a penalty dating back to Barcelona means he will actually start the race sixth – was popular in the paddock.
“I feel bad for Michael that he can’t enjoy his first pole after so long,” Fernando Alonso told Spanish television Antena 3.
It is Mark Webber who inherits the pole, but the Australian insisted: “I think it’s Michael’s day.”
Lewis Hamilton added: “Michael did a really great job. Not bad for an old timer!”
Heikki Kovalainen is quoted by Turun Sanomat: “This was Michael saying ‘Hey, don’t forget me and here I come!'”
In the Times newspaper, Kevin Eason concluded: “The day belonged to the old man.”