This Formula 1 Season has seen a number of events that one could call extraordinary. Brawn GP and the little private teams taking it to the big factory funded giants. Some teams up to the same old dirty tactics and a young world champion on the verge of a mid life crisis ten years too early. Yet through all of this, a storm has been brewing in Maranello that few have really focused on and the relationship that brought title after title could finally be over.
The world was not ready after 2006 to see what the horizon of F1 would look like without Michael Schumacher. I for one did not think that world could exist. Some may say that it does not exist and Formula 1 is as dead as dead can be. However, F1 has existed and races have been run with champions crowned. Schumacher never left the eye of Ferrari and stayed on as an “advisor” to young Felipe Massa and Mercedes ace Kimi Raikkonen. Little was known of this “advisor” position and some called it Ferrari’s gift to Michael for all he done for the scarlet team. Let us remember that Ferrari were in the worst form in their history during the early 90’s when Schumacher came over and shattered records and rewrote history in F1 as we knew it. He was visible at some grands prix and at a number of Ferrari PR events such as car launches and auto shows to help unveil street model cars as well. Yet over the last two seasons, the glory that he helped build has become a nightmare and some have stated that Schumacher is finding himself in the cross hairs. This begs one to ask the question: Has the last piece of the fabled dream team had enough?
Fast forward to the start of this season. Arguably the worst start for Ferrari in years. The team has taken part in the first two rounds only to score zero points and have reliability issues and pit blunders that have put them on level footing with the likes of Force India. A for not fitting of a constructors champion the past two seasons and definitely not the level that Massa (last years runner up) were expecting to see. The most notable blunder was that at Malaysia and the one that brings this controversy to a head. Rain was expected at the Malaysian Grand Prix and in the later stages of the race it was decision time for Raikkonen as he came in to pit. Rain was expected in the immediate future and the tire selection could propel the team to a podium finish, therefore putting the start of the season very comparable to the start of last season. Media outlets have indicated that Michael Schumacher was directly responsible for placing full wet tires onto the Ferrari in hopes that rain would be on the track within two laps. A gamble that is not entirely unheard of in a situation very similar to this. Kimi put on the full wet rain tires and went out at a very slow pace to ensure the life of the tires when the rain fell. Unfortunately for Kimi and Ferrari, this gamble ended as a bust. The rain came and the life of the tires was long over as many analyst had predicted. The team failed to score points again and many were calling it a crisis in Maranello. The thing that makes this story is the fact that Ferrari threw their favorite son under the bus. The team had indicated that the poor start this season was the fault of the seven times champion and that he was uninvited to the race circuit for the next two rounds of the title. Hardly the treatment of a champion of his caliber deserves. He was also not invited to a crisis meeting held in Maranello this week in which Ferrari President Luca Di Montezemolo underscored the importance of good results. Reports from Schumacher’s manager Willi Webber indicate that Michael may be ready to quit at the end of the season. His contract will be over and so with it may be the dream that was Ferrari’s dominance in Formula 1.
In my own humble opinion I believe that Schumacher being put to blame is just as bad as McLaren using Dave Ryan as a fall boy for their own problems. Michael Schumacher was brought on as an advisor, not a race engineer or team principle. The fact that Stefano Domenicali has even insisted it is time for team members to take responsibility for their own actions is disgusting. I hate to break it to you Stefano but the buck stops with you. You are the principle and you should ultimately take responsibility for your actions or lack there of. It was your blunder that saw Massa miss out of Q1 and your decision ultimately whether Kimi put on rain tires or inters. I am a die hard Ferrari fan and have been for the last nine years and I will be damned if I have to sit and listen to the greatest F1 team to stage a car on the grid complain about a person who brought them to that glory. You Mr. Domenicali need to take responsibility for not acting and letting this season turn into a joke. Yes the regulations have changed drastically, but no remains the fact that you cannot blame somebody else for a decision that is your responsibility! I do not blame Michael for wanting to leave and even hope he may find a home at another team. He needs to be involved in F1 at some level one way or the other. This treatment by Ferrari towards the best driver the world has seen is probably the straw that will break the camel’s back and propell Ferrari to the status they achieved in 1992 as a non factor.