As he continues to defy his critics and those who are already pensioning him off into the realms of retirement once more, Michael Schumacher has argued that 'nothing is missing' at Mercedes Grand Prix in F1 2011 and that 'all the ingredients for success are here' – stressing that 'good things come to those who wait'.
Schumacher's desultory performance in the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul earlier this month – needlessly turning in on Lotus Renault GP rival Vitaly Petrov and causing a collision that resulted in an eventual twelfth-place finish, some seven spots behind team-mate Nico Rosberg – led to many of his detractors again questioning whether the most successful driver in the history of the sport will elect to simply walk away come season's end.
The bare statistics – no qualifying position higher than fifth and no finishing position higher than fourth from the 24 races since he made his F1 comeback at the beginning of last season – admittedly hardly make for encouraging reading, and there can be little doubt that 'Schumi' has been routinely and comprehensively outperformed by his younger countryman over in the other side of the Mercedes garage.
The man himself, though, remains adamant that he will
rediscover his erstwhile glories – and a feisty drive in last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona was inarguably his finest of the 2011 campaign to-date. His burning motivation, he reveals, is an unflinching belief that Mercedes is on the right path and will ultimately achieve the same kind of success as Red Bull Racing is enjoying at present.
“Probably last year I wasn't where I wanted to be, but this year I would say nothing is missing,” the German legend told the official F1 website. “All the ingredients for success are here – we now have to arrange and optimise them. Then we will be on the go, just like Red Bull is now. I know we will do it.
“Of course we would have wanted faster development – and a faster swing onto victory lane – after Ross [Brawn – team principal] won both titles in 2009, but that was the exception to the rule. I have been racing long enough to understand that it takes at least three years to push a team to the very top, and I know that good things come to those who wait. I am absolutely sure we are on the right track, and that we are doing all we can to be successful in the end.
“I am aware that there are many out there mouthing off about me, but I have been in the business long enough to know what is really important – to stay calm and work in a goal-oriented way on what we want to achieve. In reality, everything happens so quickly in F1. You have to free your mind and not ponder what might have been. It is useless to look back. You have to concentrate all your energy on your goals.”
It was the 'what might have been' in Turkey, indeed, that resuscitated many of the rumours about impending retirement for the seven-time F1 World Champion, after he confessed post-race that 'the big joy is not there right now' [see separate story – click here
] – but Schumacher has since reasoned that he was merely alluding to his disappointment that without his incident with Petrov, he would likely have taken the chequered flag half-a-dozen places higher up the order in Istanbul.
What's more, despite the fact that he has been out-qualified by Rosberg in every race thus far this year – and sometimes by a substantial margin – the 91-time grand prix-winner insists he 'doesn't think' the younger of the two Germans has an edge over him, pointing to 'issues' with his own car that have masked his true potential. In an interview with BBC Sport
, he went on to reveal that he 'didn't read' the media speculation about his future – and that he remains fully committed to pursuing his F1 objectives.