LONDON: Mercedes hope to put the smile back on Michael Schumacher’s face in Spain this weekend after the seven-time Formula One champion complained two weeks ago that the “big joy” had gone.
The 42-year-old has an unmatched record at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, winning there six times in total and four years in a row with Ferrari at the peak of his powers between 2001 and 2004.
However the German has failed to get back on the podium since he started his comeback with Mercedes last year after three seasons out.
He has been outqualified by team-mate Nico Rosberg in all four races this year and managed only a 12th place in Turkey, a race that triggered renewed speculation about his motivation to keep on racing youngsters like 23-year-old compatriot and champion Sebastian Vettel.
To rub salt into the wounds, Red Bull’s Vettel lapped Schumacher in Istanbul.
“The big joy is not there right now,” Schumacher told the BBC.
Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn, the tactical brain who guided Schumacher to victory at Benetton and Ferrari, denied the fire was dimming and said the “joy” comment referred to the last race rather than anything more existential.
“I’m sure the last race wasn’t very joyful, but I think that was what it was referring to,” he told Reuters.
“When you have a race like that, any driver, it’s going to knock you back a bit. But I think he’s pretty resilient and I’m optimistic this weekend he’ll be back where we want him,” continued Brawn.
“I spoke to him since then (Istanbul), we’ve had a lot of technical discussions, he’s hassling about what we are doing about the car, what’s coming along, what improvements we’ve got so nothing’s changed really.” — Reuters