Brawn: Schumacher will be back in 2011 29 Sep 2010
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, reigning constructors champions Brawn GP, technical whizz Ross Brawn and the might of German car giant Mercedes-Benz. The ingredients for a stunning 2010 season were all present and correct when Mercedes GP launched in Stuttgart back in January.
Nine months later, however, and Mercedes's dream has faltered and Schumachers comeback is in tatters. Currently tenth in the standings, with just 46 points, the veteran German's fall from grace has led some to question whether he will last the season, let alone be back in the cockpit competing next year. But Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn is confident Schumacher will race in 2011.
Michael is disappointed, of course, Brawn told Formula1.com. Still he is enjoying the challenge very much. He definitely doesnt come to a race wishing to be somewhere else. He wants to work with the engineers, wants to find solutions and is extremely motivated. He is enjoying racing.
"Of course hes also a bit frustrated that his performance isnt better. But I tell you, Michael is a very ambitious person and he didnt win seven titles because hes quick to capitulate. What sense would it make at that stage of his comeback to pack in his job? Hes not going to do it - be sure of that!
Although previously famed for his ability to get the most out of tyres, one of the major stumbling blocks for Schumacher this season has been Bridgestones 2010-spec rubber. Although Brawn admits the 91-time Grand Prix winners driving style does not suit this years Bridgestones, he believes the change to new tyre supplier, Pirelli, next season could help matters.
Michaels driving style depends on a strong front tyre that can withstand his hard braking and the steering manoeuvres that he prefers, he explained. I have to say that this years front tyre is very uncommon. Next year we expect the Pirelli tyres will work better for Michaels driving style. In 2011 all drivers start from zero, so any disadvantage Michael might have will disappear.
Schumacher's woes this year have been compounded by the fact his much-younger team mate Nico Rosberg has thoroughly overshadowed him, scoring three podiums and 76 more points. Brawn believes its Rosbergs ability to better use the tyres which has made the difference. And he is confident well see the old Schumacher again next season, when he also hopes to give the German a car more worthy of him to drive.
If you take the telemetry data in fast corners or his reaction time when the car breaks away, I dont see any difference, he explained. There hes still the old Michael. But in the slow corners he cannot make full use of the tyres as Nico can. Nico has put the bar very high in this respect. I predict that in 2011 we will again see the true Michael - when weve delivered him a better car.
Preparations for an improved successor to 2010's disappointing MGP-W01s are already well underway, and Brawn reveals Schumacher is immersed in the development of the 2011 car.
Formula One is a very competitive business, he explained. A few tenths can decide if a season was a success or a failure. We had decided by mid-season that we would rather concentrate on the future - meaning the 2011 car. Right now we are already 100 percent focused on next years car whereas those fighting for the championship have to split their resources.
"He (Schumacher) is working very intensively with the engineers and pushes the people back home in the factory. We speak a lot but he is also speaking a lot to the engineers and the aerodynamicists. On one hand to support us, on the other to see how we are progressing.
Before he can get his hands on his new charge, however, Schumacher has another four races to go this season. Hell be back in action at the Japanese Grand Prix from October 8-10.
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