Michael Schumacher, who recently suggested Ferrari might have won at Indianapolis even if the Michelin-debacle hadn’t happened, must be feeling a little embarrassed.

By Mike Fourie, News Ed.


Michael Schumacher, who recently suggested Ferrari might have won at Indianapolis even if the Michelin-debacle hadn’t happened, must be feeling a little embarrassed this morning.


The French Grand Prix was, as they say, a public relations for Michelin and Renault…. After the disastrous United States Grand Prix, Michelin’s F1 point man Pierre Dupasquier was grinning from ear to ear and the thousands of Renault employees who attended the race at Magny Cours, including new boss Carlos Ghosn, might return to work with invigorated .


High fives were indeed in order for Fernando Alonso – he was simply sublime on Sunday. Having said that, Alonso might as well ask McLaren to donate a small chunk of Raikkonen’s broken engine (from Friday’s practice session) so that the Spaniard can display it next to the French Grand Prix winner’s trophy on his increasingly-cluttered mantelpiece. It is rather pointless to suggest the Ice Man would have beaten Alonso without the burden of his qualifying penalty (or a two-stop strategy), I admit. However, the Spaniard would definitely have had to work harder for victory if Kimi started right behind him.


And that brings us to man who stood on the third step of the French Grand Prix rostrum - Michael Schumacher. I have the greatest respect for Schumacher’s achievements throughout a stellar F1 career. Since 1997, the German has had unprecedented support from one of the most focused teams in modern-day F1, he is the best driver of his generation and undoubtedly one of the all-time greats.


After his win in the six-car US Grand Prix, Schumacher said: "We had a very good car and we were very strong in practice. I think I might have been able to fight for the win (with a full field participating)". Who was he trying to fool?


After finishing 81,9 seconds behind Alonso at Magny Cours on Sunday, it is palpably clear that Schumacher’s Ferrari does not have race-winning pace… Imagine that the US Grand Prix’s much-publicised Michelin-debacle never happened; If twenty cars started the race at Indianapolis and the McLarens, Renaults and Jarno Trulli’s Toyota retired due to whatever reasons, Schumacher might have been able to “fight for the” win, but not otherwise.


Listening to the ITV commentators yap about the “grandiose castle Schumacher was building on the shores of Lake Geneva” made me cringe. The German played an integral part in moulding Ferrari from no-hopers into the dominant team of the past five years, but that’s history. The 2005 season is now half way, and besides Imola (and, urgh, Indianapolis) Schumacher has not been in a position to challenge for the lead of a race too often. What’s Schumacher doing about that?


It’s widely believed that Ferrari’s struggle to match Renault and McLaren is primarily due to Michelin’s performance advantage over that of the Scuderia’s partner Bridgestone. That may be partly true, but there are many other factors that affect a team’s performance.


For Schumacher, it’s not enough to deliver superhuman qualifying performances at the wheel of inferior machinery. He did not build his reputation by merely finishing “in the points”. Perhaps he should worry less about the modern conveniences of his new Swiss mansion, ask test drivers Luca Badoer or Marc Gene to step aside and put in the hard yards at Fiorano himself?

Original article from Car