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What does await him in his return?

December 23, 2009

A lot of things changed since his last race in Brazil 2006

Cars are much different now than they were in his last race in 2006

This morning Mercedes and Schumacher announced the long-awaited move that will see the German making a comeback to F1 after three years. But not only ‘Schu’ announced his comeback, he also stated that he can still win races! But as much as we still believe in Schumacher’s ability, a lot of changes happened in the sport during his absence. From ban on traction control to four new venues, let’s have a look on what challenges Schumacher will face in 2010.

Traction control: banned

This is probably the lesser of Schumacher’s worries. He was already a triple-world champion when traction control was legalized again in 2001, and he also tested the Ferrari F2008 (which didn’t have traction control systems from the beginning) during the pre-season.

New aerodynamic configurations

Although he was set to replace Felipe Massa for the remainder of the 2009 season, Schumacher never raced in a car configured with the 2009 aerodynamic restrictions, courtesy of the testing ban.  His last taste of Formula 1 was in a two years old F2007 made by Ferrari’s Clienti division, and shod with GP2 tyres. With even more restrictive testing regulations, meaning that each driver has only four days of test, will Michael be able to learn everything he needs about current aerodynamics configurations?

Four new tracks

Since Michael left in 2006, four new tracks were added to the calendar, and only one of them is unknown to all current drivers. He will have to learn the tricks in Valencia, Marina Bay, Yas Marina and the new-to-2010 Jeonnam track in South Korea. But that shouldn’t be a worry – simulators can give Michael the needed basic experience on these tracks

Slicks

It is true that Schumacher raced with slicks earlier in his career, but today’s compounds in nothing resemble the old slicks. Schumacher was the sovereign of the grooved tyres era, but making a switch to the current slicks will be nothing to the German.

No refueling

Surely the most significant change for the next season, and perhaps the one which Michael Schumacher will miss the most. Schumacher is known to have mastered the pit-stop technique in all aspects – from setting absurdly fast laps before making his stop to learning the exact moment when to trigger the speed limiter. Along with Ross Brawn, Schumacher made smart pit-stop strategies work, most notably at the 1994 Spanish Grand Prix (when he lost the lead to Damon Hill at the start and switched to a three-stop strategy to enjoy a longer time with a free track ahead, while the Englishman had to battle with backmarkers in the slow Jerez track) and at the 2004 French Grand Prix (possibly the wildest strategy ever: starting behind Fernando Alonso, who had an excellent starting system in a track which allowed almost no overtaking, Brawn and Schumacher made use of the extremely short Magny-Cours pitlane to pit four times and ultimately emerging ahead of the Spaniard).

But Schumacher is also the only active driver who won a race with no refueling at all, and must be hungry to prove that he can be the Schumacher we know, even without refueling strategies.

New enemies?

Since Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel made their name in Formula 1, some people have been asking “what if Schumacher was still racing?” It is like a inner desire of some to see the seven-time World Champion battling against Formula 1 current stars, but if we go back to the beginning of Schumacher’s career and look with whom he was racing with (Piquet, Senna, Prost and Mansell, just to name four of them), we will realize that this will definitely not be a problem.

In the end, Schumacher will be racing for the current champion team, backed by Ross Brawn, while he still has the passion and ambition to win again in Formula 1 – if the car turns out to be good, ‘der Schumi’ will definitely be a title contender.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 24, 2009 7:01 pm

    2010 could potentiality be the greatest ever season.4 WDC in the field an all british partenership which could go wrong and potentiality any of 7 or 8 drivers winning the championship.I don’t like Schumacher but it’s a great boost for F1 and I cannot wait to see him take on hamilton

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