South Africa, May 14th 2012 (F1plus / Chris Cameron-Dow).- It’s the third season of Michael Schumacher’s comeback, and he hasn’t won a race, been on the podium, or even taken a pole position. Team-mate Nico Rosberg has won a race, taken a pole position, and featured on the podium a few times. Schumacher is not used to struggling like this for success, and the frustration is starting to show.
In yesterday’s Spanish Grand Prix, the seven-time World Champion made an uncharacteristic error, running into the back of Bruno Senna’s Williams to take both cars out of the race.
Schumacher came from very far back, with the benefit of DRS, but didn’t really seem to have a move planned. He just arrived at the braking zone for turn one, tried to avoid Senna at the last second, failed, and crashed into the Williams. Senna appeared to move twice, once to the inside to defend the position, and then back to take his line under braking. Senna is required by new rules in place for 2012 to leave a Schumacher-sized space on the outside, which he did. Schumacher just opted not to take it, instead trying to change direction to the inside of the corner, when there was simply not enough space left.
Although Schumacher reacted angrily, referring to Senna as an “idiot” on the team radio before throwing the steering wheel out of his stricken Mercedes, it seemed from the television images that Senna had done nothing wrong. The Stewards agreed that Schumacher was at fault and handed him a five-place grid penalty for the next race in Monaco.
The incident was unusual in that Schumacher seemed unsure of where to go on the track. The accident should never have happened. Schumacher was not close enough to pull the move off, and he should have known that.
Schumacher is not prone to public outbursts. The consummate professional, he has been known throughout his career for not showing emotion, to the point of being thought cold by competitors and critics. So when he was interviewed in the pitlane following the accident, his lack of diplomacy was surprising.
Schumacher laid the blame squarely at the feet of Bruno Senna, accusing him of moving illegally in the braking zone. The German also referred to an incident from last season where the two drivers came together in Brazil, as if to suggest that Senna makes a habit of causing accidents.
The show of emotion in the car, and then again in the pitlane interview, suggest that frustration is building in the Schumacher camp, which is understandable. His return to Formula One was expected to be glorious. So far, it’s been anything but.