Michael Schumacher's former paymaster Eddie Jordan has suggested that the seven-time world champion must have had 'rocks in his head' to have flirted with bike racing – as he argued that the German's announcement that he is no longer to return to F1 competition after all has left fans feeling 'robbed' and dealt a significant blow to Ferrari's chances of success over the remaining seven races of the 2009 campaign.
Schumacher was named as a replacement for the injured Felipe Massa following the Brazilian's terrifying high-speed accident in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring just over a fortnight ago, when the São Paulista's helmet was struck by a piece of rear suspension that had flown off the Brawn GP of compatriot Rubens Barrichello.
That left Massa hospitalised and facing a potentially lengthy recovery process from the head and eye injuries he sustained, but in the meantime it was revealed his ex team-mate Schumacher would step into the void from next weekend's European Grand Prix in Valencia onwards. That was, at least, until a test outing exposed the neck pain that is a legacy of the 40-year-old's motorcycling fall at Cartagena in Spain back in February – and which still has yet to fully heal [see separate story – click here
Erstwhile team owner Jordan – who famously gave Schumacher his break in the top flight in the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps – contends that the record-breaking 91-time grand prix-winner was unwise to have even put himself in a position to get injured in the first place.
“What was he thinking with the bikes?” asked the Irishman – who ran his eponymously-named Jordan Grand Prix outfit in F1 from 1991 to 2005 – in an interview with BBC's TalkSport
programme. “He had rocks in his head. Lance Armstrong wouldn't compete in the Tour de France if he wasn't 100 per cent fit, and Schumacher is exactly the same – but I am surprised it has taken this long [for him to make a decision].
“He has the speed but not the ability to go two hours in a race with his neck after the accident. Ferrari would have had the best medical people on the case, but he is not up to the job. We have been robbed, because I wanted to see how he could cope with these young guys.”
Whilst Massa hopes to return soon and long-time test driver Luca Badoer has been parachuted into the cockpit for the time being [see separate story – click here
], Jordan opined that the Scuderia
might do better to try to prise double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso away from his Renault contract several races early. The Spaniard is widely tipped to climb behind the wheel of one of the scarlet machines in 2010, most likely in place of fellow former title-winner Kimi Raikkonen.
“Massa has, thank goodness, made a huge recovery,” continued the 61-year-old, now a BBC
F1 pundit, “and this may give him the impetus to come back earlier – don't be surprised if he returns at Monza (on 13 September). This is a huge setback for Ferrari, though. Schumacher needed to come back to inspire confidence and give them a boost, as the sport needs Ferrari.
“There are a number of drivers who won't get a drive next year, and what's to say that Ferrari won't try to do a deal with [Renault F1 managing director] Flavio Briatore, as my information is that Alonso is going to Ferrari next year. Why don't they bring it forward? If I was Ferrari that is what I would try to do.”