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What will Michael Schumacher do now?

I fear there will be some disparity between what we would like him to do (which according to polling on this website is drive at Le Mans) and how he will actually spend his time.

However much I’d like to see him return to Le Mans (how many remember one of his smaller claims to fame is fastest lap of the race in 1991 en route to 5th overall in a Mercedes C11?), I can’t see it happening. Nor can I see him doing Indycars, DTM, WRC, MotoGP or the European Tiddlywinks Championship.

f1 opinion  What will Michael Schumacher do now?

However I can see him in an ambassadorial role for Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes has always demonstrated phenomenal loyalty to its brightest stars. It looked after Fangio for the rest of his days after he retired and even now retains an association with Stirling Moss despite the fact that he raced for them for just one season and won just a single World Championship Grand Prix in their cars, and that some 57 years ago. And quite right too: Stirling also won the TT, Targa Florio and Mille Miglia for them and delivered the world sports car championship.

But I digress. Mercedes will want to look after Michael and while Ross Brawn remains on the strength, I expect an ambassadorial role awaits. Problem is that, if rumour is to be believed, Michael got bored to death doing the same for Fiat and Ferrari. How best, then, to retain his interest?

I’d get him involved in car development to an extent never seen before. Car companies are fond of trumpeting that their latest supercar has been developed by their latest superstar, but it’s rarely true. I have, for instance, seen Ayrton Senna described as ‘the true father of the Honda NSX’ despite the fact that in a development process that took over five years to go from drawing board to showroom, he spent but a single day in the car. And I’m sure the feedback he gave in a couple of sessions at Suzuka was useful to the engineers, but not half as useful as it was to the PR men.

f1 opinion  What will Michael Schumacher do now?

Of Michael’s many qualities, four make him perfect for this role. First and most obviously he can pedal a bit. Second, the man has a brain the size of Berlin. Third, he was always the hardest working driver in F1 and, fourth but probably most importantly, he has enjoyed excellent relations with most of the engineers with whom he’s worked. This means you have a man who can get the most out of a car, identify what it’s doing right and wrong, be able to communicate those thoughts to those in a position to act and strive tireless to improve the result still further.

What would be in it for Schumacher beyond the fact that I imagine he will continue to be well rewarded for his time? Simply the knowledge that his input has made a real difference to improving even in a small way the quality of life of millions of people around the world. The life of an F1 driver is a necessarily and ultimately selfish occupation as you strive to win a championship that will deem you the greatest driver currently standing on the earth. This would allow Michael to be engaged and interested in something that actually matters while, as the phrase goes, putting something back.

As for Mercedes, the draw is clear: it might be able to employ dozens or even hundreds of engineers for what they’d need to pay Michael, but the payoff – being able demonstrate beyond dispute that its cars are now developed by the statistically greatest driver who ever lived – would be priceless.

Add your comments

20 comments on What will Michael Schumacher do now?

  1. Ray T, 9 October 2012 18:47

    Why doesn’t he use his vast wealth to set up a foundation and help people?
    Nah. Bigger Yacht.

  2. michael band, 9 October 2012 19:54

    the most sensible article i have read regarding michael’s future.lets hope it happens.although it would be good to see him in a dtm car!well done mr frankel.

  3. Carl A H Martin, 9 October 2012 23:18

    Ray T may be doing Schumacher a disservice, I believe he has been involved with charitable deeds for a considerable time. Why does he need to set up a foundation to publicise it? He isn’t a redundant politician!

    The article makes a lot of sense, thank you Mr Frankel, Schumacher has too much talent and knowledge to let it go to waste.

    I am sorry he has retired though, even if I haven’t always been his biggest fan, he did bring an awful lot to all levels of motor sport!

    I wish him and his family a peaceful life.

  4. C C, 10 October 2012 11:18

    Amusing comment from Ray T, but in all seriousness, i’m led to believe that Schuey chucks plenty of money at good causes. If memory serves, he was also the biggest individual donator after the Tsunami – $10m. It may be small change, but not everyone in that financial league has the bottle to write a cheque for that much and give it away.

    I always feel he’s a lost soul when not racing and i assume that because he feels fit enough to do it.

    I know everyone drones on about the Schumacher era being boring, and 2001-2004 was. But for me, i remember the out and out fights he had in the late 90′s against McLaren and Williams. Love him or hate him, having him there in those years made races eventful and entertaining.

  5. Steve W, 10 October 2012 11:49

    I think what Michael should do now is completely get away from anything racing and build himself a massive model railroad.

  6. IM, 10 October 2012 13:53

    Please don’t let him near LM….

  7. Dizzy Lusioned, 10 October 2012 14:17

    “He has a brain the size of Berlin”.
    Granted, he has been by all accounts F1′s canniest ever driver (both in and out of the car) with the possible exception of Alain Prost, but please don’t exaggerate his intelligence beyond that narrow context, Mr Frankel. Like most GP drivers, a potential Nobel Laureate he almost certainly ain’t. Now that doesn’t preclude the job you have in mind for him, indeed I agree he’d be very good at it, but please avoid the silly hyperbole.

  8. Philip, 10 October 2012 20:27

    As a current M-B driver, albeit a humble W124, I certainly won’t be rushing out to buy another because Schumacher is involved with the comapny.

  9. Max.D, 10 October 2012 20:30

    What should Michael Schumacher do next? I hope it’s still F1 though DTM and LM might fit him as well.

    It would be great to see Schumy with Ferrari again, one last time, one last season. He can still accumulate some pretty decent points and cannot do worse than Massa. But, Ferrari should be looking for a competitive teammate for Alonso, say like Webber.

  10. Ray T, 10 October 2012 21:05

    I have to agree with Dizzy. Back in the day, there were many stories about Schumacher’s academic failures prior to his career in F1.
    It’s driving a car in circles, not brain surgery.

  11. John Read, 11 October 2012 05:30

    Back to Ferrari Max.D ???

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if he accepted the contract to play rear gunner and blocker for Alonso?

    He seems still quick enough e.g Monaco quali, and I can’t think of anyone better qualified to fend off all the other drivers trying to catch Alonso.

    All that would be necessary is a frontal lobotomy to excise his ambition to win races.

  12. Peter Clothier, 11 October 2012 22:27

    Jackie Stewart had a similar role with Ford, until they decided to ignore his input.

  13. Marty Harris, 12 October 2012 08:51

    Given that a great many people who have dealt with Schumacher professionally throughout his career are on the record stating he is a very intelligent man, I don’t think you’re likely to get far on an informed site like this if you argue he’s some kind of intellectual dummkopf.

    No village idiot has ever got to be world champion.

  14. Bill, 12 October 2012 17:06

    I think Schumacher donated something in the region of 60 million dollars and counting to several charities. Thats probably more than all other drivers combined.

    I still hope Ferrari gives him the seat instead to Massa, who, undoubtedly, will screw up in qualifying tomorrow.

  15. Chris Hall, 13 October 2012 00:36

    What I’d like him to do now is to admit to taking Damon Hill out at Adelaide in1994 !!
    I hope he enjoys his retirement but frankly he won’t be missed. He won his championships in an era when, driverwise, it was as weak as it’s ever been in F1 ( not helped by his nobbling his team-mates ) and also at a time when the FIA were “helping” Ferrari.

    There’s a sneering view that people who only won 1 drivers championship such as Denny Hulme and Keke Rosberg were in some way undeserving of the title, but in my opinion their single championships are worth far far more than Schumachers multiple ones.

  16. msw laywrong, 13 October 2012 17:22

    “The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.” Mario Puzo.

    Why didn’t the Italians teach him this? Who walked on whom that fateful day at Ferrari? Without knowing the answer to that question, we will never predict his future.

    MSW Laywrong

  17. Sandy Fraser, 31 October 2012 15:33

    As an ambassador he is flawed, as an engineer/car developer he is flawless

  18. Pat, 25 November 2012 18:52

    Wouldn’t it be outstanding to see him on an American road course bringing his talent like – Henri? Beckenbauer! Although I am from NY …. Deep from the Southernboy in me calls the acronym:

    N A S C A R

    Schumacher – Could you handle it old man????!!!!!

  19. Tony Donegan, 30 December 2012 00:20

    Mr Schumacher is simply another GP driver who had some good fortune to win races when the opposing teams were weak. His day has come and gone. He will never match the Moss legend. I know Jackie Stewart will not approve of my next comment – Moss was driving cars that looked like racing cars at speeds not far short of 200mph in the most dangerous of situations – cars that were hand built without computer technology and engineered with slide rules and drawing boards by a few brilliant hands-on mechanics. Compare that with the cosseted culture that surrounded Michael and the conclusion is self evident.

  20. Jrosales, 19 July 2013 03:22

    Your absolutely correct, while Michael was with ferrari he help developed the ferrari fxx, and the most rewarding car Ferrari has the superior handling 458italia!! His input was what made this car on iconic. Ferrari made this car but Michael was the brain in this car, he was the engine and the superior handling!!

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