The announcement that Michael Schumacher will be retiring from Formula One at the end of the season has been met with assessment and reflection. Of course this is the second time he has retired from F1, after retiring from a glittering first career. Now, on the cusp of his second retirement, people are debating the merits of his return and whether it has been worth while.
The F1 fraternity had high expectations for Schumacher; high expectations that Schumacher was unable to meet. His immense success and dominance in the sport left a mouthwatering prospect that in the end turned sour.
The general consensus is that Michael’s last three years has been a failure. Yes, it is true that he has not won a race since coming back a second time, but that does not automatically brand his efforts a failure. In the eyes of the sport he has failed, but Michael’s achievements speak volumes in context to the wider picture. Given the inevitable huge weight of expectation, Schumacher’s decision to return was brave and bold. Here is a sportsman who had nothing left to prove; he was not concerned with the ideology of his own reputation. Other observers were fixated by the impact a return would have on his legacy. In the end his reputation has not be tarnished; know one can take away the name he had already made for himself prior to his return to the sport.
Some people are casting doubt about Schumacher’s achievements from his first career given the perspective of his failure the second time around. Views vary on whether Schumacher was right to return; people argue that he should have ended his second career long before now. Such discussions are relative, there is no right or wrong; how events are perceived can distort our perspective. One thing is true: Schumacher is a winner and it is this instinct that drives the man.
On his return to the sport Schumacher stated his ambitions: these were as bold as the idea itself, and they needed to be. He knew that if a return was to be made then the target had to be high, Schumacher only operates at the highest level, his own standards are of the highest order. This modus operandi should serve as inspiration us all; we should reflect on his fighting spirit and determination. Schumacher deserved more than he received from his return but sometimes life doesn’t deal the cards you desire. Schumacher’s fairy tale ending didn’t happen, but the true moral of the story is complete: success is what you make of it.
Michal Schumacher’s legacy transcends the material success he had in Formula One and represents an example of pure human determination.