Should Hamilton take note? ‘I never saw Schumacher complain even privately…’

Ex-F1 engineer Rob Smedley has opened up about how Michael Schumacher dealt with Ferrari underperforming at times during his long career with the team.

Smedley was at Ferrari between 2004 and 2014, most notably as Felipe Massa’s charismatic race engineer.

He joined Ferrari at the end of Schumacher’s dominance, with 2004 the year he claimed his seventh world title.

A year later, Ferrari could only manage one victory, slumping to third in the championship behind Renault and McLaren.

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Speaking on the latest episode of the Sky Sports F1 podcast, Smedley was asked about the impact of a driver can ahve on the team and how they should react if their car is not at the level they expected it to be.

Smedley revealed that even in “the difficult times”, Schumacher never complained “even privately” as he remained loyal to his team.

His comments could apply to Lewis Hamilton, who has been vocally critical of Mercedes in recent weeks, despite producing eight title-winning cars in a row between 2014 and 2021.

“Michael through all the difficult times. I never saw him once even privately complain about individuals or complain in a way that wasn’t creating what I call a positive conflict,” Smedley said. 

“That it wasn't a positive critique to say we have got a problem let's just be transparent about this problem but let's all head in this direction. He had complete trust in the technical team and that trust was borne out so when he did have to ride out the troughs he was there as a motivating factor and helping the team.

“Saying ‘it’s alright I trust in you, I know you’ll produce a good car’. And eventually we did produce good cars, we did produce cars which were worthy of winning world championships.”

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Smedley believes drivers “shouldn’t turn on the team” if they fail to produce a title-contending car.

“When we were winning 15 of the 17 races or whatever, to talk well about it and to say how great the culture was, and how great we all were, slapping ourselves on the back every five minutes - it’s easy,” he added. “Once you get into those difficult periods that’s when you see the true character of the team and the individuals come out. The drivers have a key part to play in that.

“After a year of difficulties, or a period, you shouldn’t turn on the team and tell them it’s all their fault. It’s unfair. The team has to supply the drivers - the top three, four drivers in F1 - they have to be supplied with a great car but you have to have a level of realism in that as well that you can’t have the best car in every single grand prix, ever single year, it’s just not possible. 

“Look at what Mercedes is going through this year and last year. At some point, somebody hungrier and better will come along and produce a faster car.”

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