Shooting from the lip as is his wont, Eddie Jordan has lambasted record-breaking multiple world champion Michael Schumacher for being 'clearly not good enough' on his ill-fated return to the top flight in F1 2010 – arguing that Mercedes Grand Prix should 'sack' the German legend to save him from potentially being 'slaughtered' if he stays on for another season.
Schumacher's comeback to active competition at the age of 41 this year has indeed been a distinctly underwhelming one, with the man who in his earlier F1 career broke all records in the sport with seven drivers' crowns, 91 grand prix victories and a staggering 154 rostrum finishes from 249 starts at the highest level, struggling woefully to keep pace with team-mate and compatriot Nico Rosberg.
It is the younger of the two countrymen who leads the way in qualifying 13-2, three-nil on podiums and by 122 points to just 46. Schumacher's first experience of the floodlit Singapore Grand Prix last weekend in many ways crystallized his troubles, as after qualifying inside the top ten for the first time in five outings, the Kerpen native gained two positions at the start to run seventh only to go on to bang wheels with both Saubers later on. The incident with Kamui Kobayashi sent 'Schumi' into a spin, whilst that with Nick Heidfeld ended the F1 returnee's race on the spot.
“Let's ask this question,” Jordan said during the BBC's
post-race F1 Forum. “If Michael Schumacher was not Michael Schumacher, driving as he is currently driving at Mercedes, would he be in the seat next year? My guess is no. I'm sorry, I'm going to be controversial this time. I would sack him – he's clearly not good enough on this performance we've seen, clear.
“He is not doing anywhere near as well as his team-mate – his team-mate is up the front. Michael may be upset with me, so be it; my opinion is I didn't think Michael did himself, or the legacy that he has, justice. A seven-time world champion should not be putting his reputation and his legacy at risk by doing this kind of race, simple.
“Where is the upside? Is there one? I think he has been the quickest, possibly the most controversial but the most brilliant racing driver ever in grand prix racing – that's my view – and he now admits that at 41 it's clearly not possible to do what you could do when you were 21. Why is he doing this? I just don't understand why he is putting himself through this pain and, you know, I made a view – and I know it was reported – that I don't think he will be racing there next year.
“I still stand by that, and I believe that the decision may be delayed until January or February because it will depend on how well Mercedes are going to design next year's car and how good the tyres are going to be. If it's clearly not good enough, I don't think he's going to do it. The facts are that he's got away with it and will get away with it for one year. I am interested in his legacy – by that I mean no-one will probably ever touch a seven-time world champion – and, as a result, if he does another year I've no doubt that it will be impaired, it will damage what that reputation is.
“This year, he took a very brave decision – he took on the guys, the car wasn't good enough, he didn't get it done. Now retire again and there will be no pain. The problem is, if he does it next year and doesn't win, he will be slaughtered. It will be terrible.”
If Jordan is the man who gave Schumacher his big break in F1 in the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, then Martin Brundle is the man who partnered him at Benetton-Ford the following year – and the Englishman too confessed that he is somewhat bewildered by the predicament in which his former team-mate presently finds himself.