Has his return to F1 tarnished his legacy?

“I needed a driver, and they rang me up and said this guy, he is amazing and so I asked him ‘have you been to Spa before?’ and he said ‘yes’” – Eddie Jordan

Michael Schumacher
A career started by a fib told to his boss, Michael Schumacher turned out to be the most successful racer in the history of the sport.
Right from his debut at the Spa Francorchamps, he has been the master of his equipment. He would drive a car around the circuit with flamboyance and precision, he’ll find time when others would have thought ‘that’s all, that’s for pole’.
Benetton marked the start of his real career where he had a car that could get him wins and podiums. And taking absolute advantage of the privilege he had been to given to drive that kind of car, he pushed it to the limits to win a championship in 1994.
Though his very first championship winning season was marred by controversy, he kept his title at the end of the season. But 1994 was just the beginning of the making of Michael Schumacher. The motivation he had, made him drive even better in the next season. And soon, he was a double world champion, and established himself as one of the best drivers on the grid.
His move to Ferrari surprised everybody. And his first two years at Ferrari weren’t all that good either. But Schumacher turned the situation around for the team in 2000 where he once again ended his season as world champion.
And the trend of winning the race, and jumping on the top step of the podium continued until 2004. But just as in any sport, F1 too has its restrictions on age. So, Michael made his call to retire at the end of 2006, after being completely overwritten by the young and charging Fernando Alonso.
The 7-time world champion (1994-1995, 2000-2004) has rewritten the history books of F1. He has made rookie errors as a starter, and he’s driven fantastic races, learning from them. His devotion to the sport and passion for driving has taken to the peak. And he has never been looked down upon.
But the emptiness he felt in those 3 years away from the paddock saw him make a brave move in 2010 – return back to F1 with the Mercedes (now Mercedes Petronas AMG) team.
Unfortunately, the 3 years he spent in F1 were most unsuccessful, Having achieved only 1 pole and 1 podium last year. He retired at the end of last year, which left the entire F1 base with a question – Has Michael Schumacher tarnished his legacy by returning to this sport?
The answer is simply, no.

There’s no way to view Schumacher’s return to F1 as a failure and a complete disaster that overwrote his colourful legacy. F1 fans and highly respected commentators of the 90s will tell you why he’s one of the best in F1 even until date. And also why the assertion that his years at Mercedes have tarnished his legacy, is ridiculous.
Schumacher started his second career with the confidence and self-belief that he could challenge and race the younger generation of today.
And for that very move, fans already deemed him great – fans of today, fans of yesterday. His exceptional pole lap in Monaco, one of the most demanding tracks in the world and most challenging one which needs great skills rather than a great car, reconfirmed his status as a skillful 7-time world champion, with 91 victories entitled to his name.
Ferrari at that time was a very rich team, with enough finances to make the best car on the grid and give their drivers a good chance to chase the title.
But that didn’t make a good enough excuse to doubt Schumacher’s 5 consecutive world championships. Right from the dominant wet weather victory at Spain in 1996, to his nail biting fight back from the back in 1998 at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Or to the hair plucking on track battles with Mika Hakkinen in 2000.
And you probably didn’t know that even today, there’s a bigger fan base for Schumacher at the Nurburgring than for the current home hero, Sebastian Vettel. The only reason for fans to remember him is because of the impression he has left before his 2nd retirement.

Michael Schumacher
Schumacher’s official retirement announcement at Suzuka 2012 was followed by a roar of applause from the gathered media. And throughout the speech, Schumacher stumbled upon words the confirmed his motorsport career’s end, showing us just how much his years, the good and the bad in F1 meant to him.
As they say, first impression is the best impression. And I’d say, Schumacher has made a good one which can last an eternity.


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