1996 F1 world champion Damon Hill has said Michael Schumacher will have to 'fight with everything he's got' if he is to stay competing in F1 beyond 2012.
Schumacher, who is statistically the most successful F1 driver ever, with seven titles to his name and 91 wins, opted to come out of retirement in 2010, following three years on the sidelines. Since then, however, while the 43-year-old has not disgraced himself, by his very high standards, pickings have still been slim and his best results with Mercedes have been four fourth places. His current three-year deal expires at the close of this year and Hill believes he will have his work cut out if he is to get a new contract.
“It's unbelievable he's still going, whilst I've been retired for 12 years,” Hill told Press Association Sport
. “He's an extraordinary performer who clearly loves his driving and doesn't want to stop. I can understand that. But F1 cannot carry people along if they are not doing their bit.
“He's going to have to fight with everything he's got to keep going for another year, or beyond this one.”
So what does Schumacher need to do?
“He has to prove he is quicker than his team-mate,” Hill opined. “Of course, the contribution a guy like Michael can make is enormous because of his experience, but eventually it really comes down to whether you are the quickest guy in the team.
“The competition in F1 is not just driver against driver across all the teams, it is intensely between the two drivers in the same team.
“Your career will depend on how you compare, so in a sense Nico [Rosberg] would do better to have some comparison with a more contemporary driver because people are not sure of the pace Michael now has.”
While some will no doubt point out though that Hill's comments in relation to Schumacher are always going to be clouded - especially given their history and that
clash in Adelaide in 1994, which saw the two collide and Schumacher take the title by 1 point - Damon insisted in a separate interview that he won't have any problems talking about the German in his new role this season as a pundit on Sky Sports
“I am [ready to commentate on Schumacher]!” he replied in a Q&A on the broadcasters' official website. “And my answer will always be the same: I have a lot of respect for Michael on and off the track, there is no rivalry between us. But there's also no way that I am not going to mention Michael Schumacher at some point during the season!”