F1 Rumors - news ahead of the headlines

14th June, 1999

Schumacher: The Point of no Return?

by Julie Gates

Sunday July 11th will go down in the history books as one of Ferrari's darkest days. That day saw them lose the might of Michael Schumacher as the German careered off the track from Stowe corner into the awaiting tyre barrier. Now, some two months after the accident, will he return to Formula One to play Irvine's lackey or will he sit out until he'll be in command of the team in red?

Well, you can look at it from two angles. He could want to help the team, no matter what, secure the 1999 World Championship courtesy of Eddie Irvine. On the other hand, which I add is more likely, he probably despises the thought of playing number two and will not fill the hot seat until he is able to return to normality as the team's leader.

Whichever way you look at it, you can see Schuey's point of view. He'll want to return to racing as soon as possible, for the integrity of both himself and his team, but would find it incredibly hard to be demoted to Ferrari's lackey. But then, why should he not experience some of the crap Irvine has had to put up with during the last four years? It could be a valuable lesson to the double World Champion.

Yes - I appreciate what the fellow has done for Ferrari - but on the same hand, he isn't irreplaceable. The sport has carried on without Ayrton Senna, bless his soul, so Ferrari can go on without Schumacher… or with Schumacher as a number two for the last rounds of the championship.

Many question how the accident will affect Schuey's racing, but I have little doubt he'll return to previous form. He's a tough nut, and even though he admitted thoughts of retiring, he longs to win Ferrari's first illustrious title in twenty years. And even though many also deem the 1999 Schumacher worse than the 1995 spec, he is still the best out there and will be wanting to prove that very point.

After talks of comebacks at both Spa and Monza, Schumacher will be testing at Fiorano on October 7th to determine whether or not he will race at Sepang or Suzuka. He and the team state that he will not race until he is one hundred percent fit, so a comeback this season, regardless of his team position, looks fairly unlikely. Ferrari is uncertain of the future, so they are concentrating on pushing Salo rather than Schumacher's return, which leaves 1999 set to remain bleak for the German.

However, a quick sprint to the end of the season could be just what the doctor ordered. It'll help prepare him for his 2000-title challenge in addition to earning himself some extra respect amongst fellows and fans. As long as Schuey is fit, he should sit in the F399 again this year. Everyone knows he has helped Ferrari unconditionally, so he should have no problems with helping Eddie to the title. It's not the way he wanted the title to return to Enzo's team, but is largely his development work which has ensured the F399 was capable of winning anyway.

So, Michael - you have already helped the team tremendously and we all know this - playing number two is just another way you can support Ferrari.

Article is written by and copyright © 1999-2001 Julie Gates and The F1 Rumors Site

Julie Gates is happiest watching F1 and writing. Also interested in singing, cars, cinema, reading and going to concerts, she has little spare time to relax, but this is the way she likes it - rather being busy than idle as she can't stand still for five minutes! Totally committed to her career as a Formula One journalist, she is determined to succeed.

Interested in reading more by this author?

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Stewart 1: Jackie Stewart - a profile of the man and the driver
Stewart 2: Stewart Grand Prix - a profile of the teams origins, and baptism of fire in Formula One
Stewart 3: Stewart McTiger - profile of Stewarts recovery from 1998
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