Herbert predicts Schumacher's retirement
Johnny Herbert predicts former teammate Michael Schumacher will hang up his helmet at the end of this season, ending his Mercedes contract one year early. Following Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix, the seven-time World Champion admitted that his ‘joy’ of racing is lost at the moment.
Since returning to Formula 1 at the beginning of 2010 after a three-year sabbatical, Schumacher has failed to either qualifying on a front row or finish on the podium. So far, his best Mercedes results have come as a trio of fourth places in Spain, Turkey and Korea last year.
“I would not be surprised if my old team-mate Michael Schumacher retires for good at the end of the season,” Herbert, who raced alongside the German at Benetton in 1995, wrote in a column for Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper.
“Schumacher did not return to Formula 1 just to make up the numbers. He came back to win races and add titles to his already impressive career statistics. It has not happened and the simple fact is that he is no longer the best driver on the track.
“Schumacher has not lost any of his skill; the new generation of young drivers are just better than him. As Schumacher continues to struggle he is being left in the slipstream of Nico Rosberg, his Mercedes GP team-mate. He blamed himself for his early collision with Vitaly Petrov that ruined his race on Sunday, and I have to agree with him. I don't understand why he turned in when he did after he had clearly lost the corner and it was rather a schoolboy mistake that ended his chances of scoring points.”
Herbert added that the 42-year-old's raw ability remains, but that below-bar equipment and a rapid team-mate are his most significant issues:
“I do not think he is any slower than he was when he was winning seven world titles; he is just struggling to cope with a situation he is not used to - he is no longer the best guy in the field and he does not have the best machinery at his disposal, as well as the fact that he has a team-mate in Rosberg who is consistently beating him.
“He did not return just to run in the middle order. His dream was to win again and make Mercedes race winners, but it has not turned out that way and I would be surprised if he chose to continue.”