Tag:Formula One
Posted on: July 29, 2009 5:54 pm

The Return

There have been other comebacks in the sports world by guys named Michael. We all remember when the basketball world was electrified more than once when one Michael Jeffrey Jordan hung up his high tops a time or two and then changed his mind.

The auto racing world received its Michael comeback story Wednesday when Michael Schumacher stepped out of retirement to fill the open seat of the Ferrari Formula One team, which became vacant after the tragic accident over the weekend to Felipe Massa. While it appears Massa will recover from the life threatening head injury he suffered when an errant on track spring hit him in the helmet, his driving career is in serious jeopardy.

So while the racing community prays for the best in the Massa situation, many of those same fans had their prayers answered by the announcement that Schumacher would once again don his driving gloves for at least the rest of the season.

Schumacher's record is staggering with 91 Formula One wins and seven championships, including an unbelievable five straight from 2000-2004. Simply stated, Schumacher was unbeatable and the term best in class was certainly useful in the days when he ruled the Formula One world.

But while Schumacher's prowess and popularity was known around the world, in the United States his accomplishments didn't register more than a blip on the radar. Sure the die hard F-1 fans in this country knew about his success and record and even casual auto racing followers were familiar with just how potent Schumacher and Ferrari were on the circuit. But he was more than just a great race car driver. Schumacher had reached global proportions as one of the most recognized, popular and wealthiest athletes of our time.

At one point, Schumacher was pulling down more annual salary and revenue than Jordan or Tiger Woods, easily reaching close to $100 million a year on more than one occasion.

Yet even when the United States Grand Prix was still on the F-1 calendar and through the years it was held at the world's most famous track in Indianapolis (where surprise, surprise Schumacher dominated), most American sports fans wouldn't have picked him out of a police line-up.

Whether he still has the skills that were so plentiful before he retired back in 2006 remains to be seen. Even the greatest athletes in the world build up rust during down time. I vividly remember Jordan clanging more than a few jumpers off the back iron when he came back to the game.

The Ferrari team is still a powerhouse and my guess is Schumacher may not win right out of the box but that he'll be competitive and in the hunt for victory lane before the final checkered flag of the season is thrown.

But let's celebrate the return of one of the world's true icons and a talent very rare in auto racing or any sport for that matter.

I just wonder if anyone in this country will notice he's back.

Category: Auto Racing
Tags: Formula One
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