I am one of your biggest fans. Not the stalker “who’s-his-wife?” variety. Just a very ardent admirer of the dedication, genius and ruthlessness that propelled you to the top of the heap in 1999. I have followed F1 every year since then and have come to idolize you. Turning a failing marque around to winning consecutive world championships? Brilliant. Everyone knows you don’t take prisoners. Your management style is basically a mix of Noriega and Stephen Hawking. And look how that worked out for Ferrari. This Italy-Germany combine was an axis of delight for those 8-9 years at the top.
Every year you had young guns looking to beat you. Every year you saw them off, or at the very least didn’t allow them to dominate you. I wept when I saw you exiting that failed swan-song at Suzuka, let down by an engine that wouldn’t allow us a last hurrah. No matter, fans and detractors doffed their collective hats to the genius who had revolutionized Formula 1 by making winning a boring affair.
Much sentimentality and odes happened.
Then you decided to come back. WTF dear sir? I know Switzerland is a boring place but really, a multi-million dollar chalet by the lakeside isn’t your cup of tea? I was taken aback when you started gracing the Ferrari pitwall as a “consultant”. The first indication you didn’t really want to let go. Then you dropped the Mercedes bomb and joined your old buddy Ross Brawn.
You of all people should know how F1 is never the same. Maybe you are the exception. Maybe not. Predictions started pouring in about how you were going to blow everyone out of the water but so far the you show no signs of living up to those expectations.
You still are everyone’s benchmark though. Even when the frontrunners overtake you for position, they do it with imperceptible nods of gratitude and crow about it afterwards. I beat Michael Schumacher. He was driving a slower car, a shell of his former self and looked out of his depth, but I BEAT MICHAEL SCHUMACHER. See? This means so much to them.
But if you keep trundling around the track in the throes of “All-German” patriotism or whatever justification you’re thinking up next, this adulation won’t last.
You are too good to ever let a season slip by in disaster. But if you aren’t winning you’re doing your reputation and fans a disservice. And this fan, at the very least, believes that the world of F1 has moved beyond your control. There are many good drivers who thought you had passed on the baton only to discover you’re still hanging onto it.
You’re dragging down their glory and making a fool of yourself.
If it doesn’t look like you’re going to win this season, let it go sir. Let it go.
Till then, I’ll just keep my eyes closed.