Brawn: Decision for Michael to stay or not is a difficult one
27 September, 2012
Sep.27 (Reuters) Mercedes faces a difficult decision over Michael Schumacher’s future in Formula One and discussions are on-going with the seven-time world champion, team principal Ross Brawn said on Thursday.
The British-based team are reportedly keen to lure Lewis Hamilton from McLaren, although the pendulum of paddock speculation has swung back towards saying that he will stay at McLaren.
Critics of Schumacher, winner of a record 91 grands prix, say that he is showing his age and is a shadow of the man who dominated the early years of the century with Italian glamour team Ferrari.
Germany’s mass circulation Bild newspaper suggested that Schumacher was too old for F1 and questioned his reaction times after he crashed into the back of Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso in Singapore at the weekend.
That blunder, one of several this season, earned Schumacher a 10-place grid penalty for next week’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.
“It’s still under discussion, I’m afraid,” Brawn, who helped Schumacher to win all his titles at Benetton and then Ferrari where he was technical director, told BBC radio when asked about the driver’s future.
“Michael has been a huge asset to the team, he’s really taken us forward. I do think Michael contributes an awful lot, so I think the decision for Michael to stay or not is a difficult one,” he added.
“Obviously he’s very involved in that decision, and discussions are ongoing at the moment.”
Germany’s Nico Rosberg has a contract with Mercedes for next year so the team are waiting for 2008 champion Hamilton.
If the 27-year-old Briton opts to stay with McLaren, Mercedes must decide whether to extend Schumacher’s contract or replace him with an up-and-coming young driver such as Force India’s Paul Di Resta.
The Scot has yet to stand on the Formula One podium but did finish fourth in Singapore.
Schumacher has had only one podium finish, in Valencia this year, since he returned to the cockpit and has had seven retirements in 14 races in 2012.
Rosberg won in China, the first victory by a Mercedes works team since 1955, but has also been outqualified by Schumacher 8-6 so far on Saturdays.
Red Bull’s double world champion Sebastian Vettel, Schumacher’s compatriot and friend, said this month after the veteran’s 300th race that the German was still a true fighter on the track and “hasn’t lost it”.
Brawn indicated that an announcement could still be some weeks away but said that Mercedes is an ambitious team. Of Hamilton, he said: “He’s a very good driver…a very good driver.”
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