The difficulties encountered by record-breaking multiple F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher on his comeback to active competition with Mercedes Grand Prix this year are proof that the German legend is merely 'ordinary' and not the magician many had once believed him to be, reckons his former team-mate Jos Verstappen.
Schumacher is one of only two drivers in the F1 2010 field to have been out-qualified on every occasion thus far by his team-mate, he rather embarrassingly trails younger compatriot Nico Rosberg 50 points to ten in the title chase and whilst his fellow Teuton has once started on the front row and twice ascended the podium, the Kerpen native has yet to begin any higher than seventh or take the chequered flag any higher than sixth.
Moreover, the Michael Schumacher who somewhat inertly spent 22 laps toiling to get past the Scuderia Toro Rosso of Spanish youngster Jaime Alguersuari in Melbourne, and the one that plummeted down the order in Shanghai last weekend, were but a pale shadow of the nigh-on invincible competitor who swept to an unprecedented 91 grand prix victories between 1992 and 2006.
The knives are out in the media, questions are being raised about whether he will even see out the campaign, let alone his three-year contract – and according to a poll conducted by Dortmund-based market research company Promit
, 63.3 per cent of those questioned believe 'Schumi made a mistake in returning to the fray at 41 years of age and following three seasons away from the grand prix grid.
“Maybe he has lost his feeling for driving during the three years of his retirement,” Verstappen – who partnered Schumacher at Benetton in 1994 – wrote in a column for Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf
. “What we are now seeing is that Schumacher is an ordinary man of flesh and blood and that even he cannot conduct magic.”