Michael Schumacher, a name topping many of Formula 1's records but is it time for him to hang up his helmet for good?
Schumacher quit F1 in 2006 after a run of 7 world championships and winning a race in every single full season he competed in. However he returned to Formula 1 in 2010 after preparations to replace injured Felipe Massa at Ferrari in 2009 (which ended up going to Luca Badoer) sparked a revitalised interest in Formula 1 for the German.
However after under performing in 2010, 2011 and the start of 2012 is it time for Schumacher to hand his seat over to someone else?
Over the last few months Schumacher has scrutinised Formula 1 in its current state, obviously showing he is not happy with how the season and the sport is going.
His first attack was on the Pirelli tyre manufacturer. Many drivers and fans of F1 have praised the tyres for sparking a resurgence in overtaking and drama, lets be honest the Bridgestone Vs Michelin era did get a tad boring. However Schumacher, possibly frustrated with his poor lack of form since rejoining F1, stated it was like driving on "raw eggs". Before that he had moaned about the quality and life of the Pirelli rubber, but that was the brief the Italian manufacturer were given when they started their preparations for F1.
Schumacher quipped "The main thing I feel unhappy about is everyone has to drive well below a driver's, and in particular, the car's limits to maintain the tyres. I just question whether they should play such a big importance, or whether they should last a bit longer, and that you can drive at normal racing car speed and not cruise around like we have a safety car." Pirelli front man Paul Hembery made a good point that "other drivers" were getting their tyres to work, so it was obviously not their fault.
Now as the Monaco Grand Prix draws closer, on a track which has seen some positive safety improvements since Sergio Perez's accident last year in Qualifying for the race, Schumacher questioned the safety of the circuit. Monaco is renowned for its risk and with the cars so close to the barrier it will never be 100% safe, but that is part of the thrill that comes from racing around Monaco, surely? If you asked the drivers what they thought of Monaco, the adjectives "special" and "amazing" are common occurrences.
Or though Schumacher admitted it is a "unique" track, he was still not happy with the safety despite improvements that have been made. He said "In a way, you could look at it with a big portion of irony with regards to the contradiction that, for so many years we have successfully campaigned for more track safety, and then we deliberately race in Monaco." However he then added on a more positive note "But in my view this is justifiable once a year, especially as the circuit is really so much fun to drive. Every time you go there, you just look forward to finally getting out and driving the track."
So is this moaning from Michael emphasising his disappointment that the results everyone expected have not come to him? There is no doubt he has a fast car underneath him this year, look at Rosberg's win in China, but Schumacher is languishing at the bottom of the leader board, on 2 points in 18th.
We have to look at someone who has been put in a similar situation. Take Raikkonen for instance. He has arrived back in F1 after a revitalised passion for racing in the sport. The "Ice Man" also had a similar break from the series and he has come back and immediately scored 2 podiums in 5 races. The car is quick but then some could argue so was Schumachers Mercedes W01 in 2010, but he could only manage a best result of 4th.
The question is, will Schumacher return in 2013? We already know that there is a long waiting list for an F1 seat, with DTM, GP2, GP3 and F1 test drivers all vying for seats that are only gifted to them through retirement or driver change. Would it be more worth while to see a rookie or younger driver taking his seat? The question remains, but we will have to see what the answer will be at the end of 2012.