As somebody who knows record-breaking multiple F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher better than most, Jochen Mass is well-placed to comment on his countryman's disappointing return to top flight competition thus far this season with Mercedes Grand Prix – and the former grand prix-winner is adamant the Kerpen native 'can
For the most successful driver in F1 history, a tally of just 36 points and no finish higher than fourth place from the opening ten grands prix of the present campaign has been excruciatingly disappointing, and the 'Schumi' 2010-style has appeared to be little more than a listless shadow of his former self, an easy touch in battle and no longer the fierce warrior that he once was.
Yes, the car has not been up to it either, his supporters argue, but the bare facts when you compare the 41-year-old's performances and results to those of young compatriot Nico Rosberg – who has notched up a trio of podiums and more than twice as many points, and out-qualified Schumacher eight-two – do not make for encouraging reading.
Whispers have been circulating the paddock for a while that the 91-time grand prix-winner may elect to simply call time on his ill-fated comeback two years early at the end of this season to avoid doing any further damage to his reputation – but Mass claims he can yet add to that victory count, albeit perhaps with a little bit of luck.
“I'm in constant touch with him, said the man who mentored Schumacher on Mercedes' junior racing programme in sportscars back in 1990, in an interview with Crash.net Radio
. “They can't test enough – that's one of the regulatory handicaps this year. That makes it difficult, [but] if things go a little bit his way, sure he can win again.”
Mass was speaking at the 2010 Goodwood Festival of Speed, where he drove a variety of old Mercedes' and confessed that 'with a wonderful weekend like this, some beautiful cars and lots of people, you can only enjoy it' – but when asked if Schumacher is still the same driver that once made him so feared by all of his rivals, the 63-year-old conceded: “No, of course not. You lose a little bit somewhere, but that's the way it goes.”