Schumacher puts foot down with his critics

Former champion furious over questioning of tactics used in pursuit of past titles

Michael Schumacher was yesterday forced to defend his reputation as he faced up to the least attractive aspect of his Formula One comeback.

Schumacher has never enjoyed his media duties, and in pondering whether to return he must have questioned whether he again wanted to face the intrusion. That is despite the fact he knew he was ready to return, mentally and physically, after more than three years away.

So it perhaps came as no surprise that on the day of his official presentation as a Mercedes GP driver, his past should be drawn into question. Despite his unprecedented success there remain stains on his character, such as his infamous collisions with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve as he fought for the world championship in 1994 and 1997 respectively. There was his victory in the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix when his then team-mate Rubens Barrichello was ordered to pull over to allow the now 41-year-old past. And, of course, there was the deliberate parking of his Ferrari at La Rascasse in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix as he tried to thwart his then title rival Fernando Alonso.

When asked whether his return was an opening to show he could win in the right way, Schumacher positively bristled with indignation. The German sarcastically replied: "Ninety-one victories, seven titles, you win only in a bad way. Absolutely. Yeah, you're right, I need to prove [myself] now."

When it was put to Schumacher that the initial question had referred to the manner in which he won, and not what he won, Schumacher caustically remarked: "Yeah, I know. I did win all this in the manner in which you are trying to ask questions."

In a more serious tone, he added: "Let's be sensible and think about the reality, and look forward to what we might all face, learn and enjoy together. That's what I'm looking for."

There is no doubting Schumacher's status in Formula One history, although in returning now, he has never faced a challenge like the one he will encounter. It is 11 years since there were four world champions on the grid as there will be this year in Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Alonso.

But back in 1999 when Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen, Hill and Villeneuve were all in the field, only the former two were in competitive machinery. With close friend Felipe Massa at Ferrari and young pretender Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull, even team-mate Nico Rosberg, Schumacher's battle for an eighth crown is an uphill one.

"Compared to the past when there was one team able to compete [McLaren with Ferrari], now there are two or three teams," Schumacher said. "Last year was probably an exception but it doesn't really matter. You are there to win. In the car you don't look at how old your opponent is or who it is, you look at how you can be better than whoever it is."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
ESPN footage showed a split-screen Murray’s partner Kim Sears and Berdych’s partner Ester Satorova 'sporting' their jewellery
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee