Time to Retire?

Yesterday’s Formula 1 race in Spain was one of the best Formula 1 races I have seen in a long time.  In lap 13, there was a racing incident between Michael Schumacher and Bruno Senna.  Incidents such as that is part of what makes motor racing entertaining and fun to watch.  However, on the radio after the crash, Schumacher called Bruno Senna an idiot.  Even that could be excused at the time.  Schumacher was/is obviously frustrated.  He has crashed in 3 out of 5 races this season so far and he is consistently being out classed by his much younger team mate Rosberg.  However, during press interviews following the race (and following him clearly having watched the video footage since he is mentioning it), he kept on blaming Bruno Senna for this accident, and that is absolutely inexcusable.

According to this article, Schumacher said:

“I want the stewards to clarify what happened. He moved to the right, but he shouldn’t move back in the braking phase to the left that sharply, I’m just behind him and I don’t know how sharply he is going to move. So it was all very dangerous.”

Well, let’s have a look at it:

Now, let us take a closer look at what happened.  Here are some frames from the video.  The first frame is early.  Senna is approaching corner one, but he is clearly on the wrong side of the track to get an ideal racing line through the corner (right hand corner, so he should be at the left side of the track).

At this point, both Bruno Senna and Schumacher decide to pull left – something they both have to do to get through that corner.  It could look as if Schumacher at this point have decided to overtake Bruno Senna on the outside through that corner, something he could easily have done since he had much fresher tires.

Bruno Senna have a right to defend himself, so even if he was aware of Schumachers move, he had a right to close the gap.  However, it is worth noticing that he did leave room for Schumacher, even if he had a right to go all the way to the left.

Schumacher at this point, less than half a car length behind Senna, obviously decide not to go around on the outside – even if Senna left tons of space there.

Schumacher start pulling right, but do notice that Senna is not changing direction at all.

This is probably one of the last frames before the crash.  Schumacher is moving right, Senna have left space on the left side for Schumacher to go through but there is a corner coming up and he has started braking at this point.  He is however still not moving to the right.

Senna is still not turning.

And contact.  Notice the tire marks on the track.  They clearly show the ideal line through that corner.  The two cars in front of Schumacher and Senna is following that line and the car behind them is also properly lined up for the corner.

To me this is a racing incident.  It is part of what makes Formula 1 entertaining and it is how it should be.  What pisses me of is Schumacher calling Bruno Senna an idiot.  OK – I can somewhat understand a stupid reaction during distress – Schumacher was/is obviously frustrated and that is OK.  But even after the race – even after watching the video – he is still maintaining that this incident was caused by Bruno Senna being a poor driver.  Obviously the guy is a bit delusional these days.  I guess he is used to lesser drivers moving out of the way when the great Schumacher approaches.  To me he is just a has been that should have stayed retired.  Look – I am a year or two older than Schumacher and my reactions are definitely not as sharp as they were when I was 20 or 30.

Schumacher, no doubt, was once a great driver and I don’t think anybody is going to forget that – just as nobody will forget the dirty tricks he pulled along the way.  Who will forget this incident:

Bruno Senna’s uncle was one of the few that might possibly have been an even greater driver, but Bruno Senna is clearly not in the same league.  But in this case the mistake was Schumacher’s 100 %.  There is no doubt about that.

Update 2012-05-15

When I wrote this post yesterday I was actually rather pleased with the FIA, since they had slapped Schumacher with a 5 place grid penalty in the next race (which will be Monaco so it will be bloody hard to overtake).  I was under the impression than FIA in general would feel rather pleased to have fans show an active interest in the “sport” (or show) they are trying to promote.  However, today I had some new input on this, read more here.