Thursday, July 30, 2009

Schumacher Returns

The bizarre accident in qualifying last weekend that put Felipe Massa in hospital has thrown a bit of a spanner into this year's Formula 1 championship. Faced with an empty seat, Ferrari have done the unthinkable and appeased Schumacher fans the world over : Michael Schumacher is going to race Massa's seat for the remainder of the season. I'm giddy like an excited schoolgirl at the prospect of this, because for the first time it means Alonso and Button are going to get to drive on track, in racing conditions, with the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time. Presuming of course that he's still got it - and I hope he has. Whilst I'm ambivalent about the politics of Ferrari and how they manipulate the Formula 1 stewards, I was always a huge Schumacher fan. To see him come out of retirement for even one race would be awesome. To see him race a half season - even under these unfortunate circumstances - is more than most of us would have hoped for.
And what about Massa? Well his injuries are severe. To bring you up to speed, in qualifying last weekend, the heave spring on the rear of Barrichello's car popped out and started bouncing along the track. Felipe Massa was the next car around and unfortunately, that spring was in mid-bounce and slammed into Massa's helmet near the visor at 160mph. Massa was knocked unconscious and straight-lined the next corner slamming into the tyre wall. He was taken to hospital, where he still is, with a brain contusion, and probably a fractured skull and eye socket. The good news is that he's responsive now, and walking around under his own steam. The arguments have already started about the relative safety of open-cockpit racing cars but hopefully they'll stay just that - arguments. With all the rest of the regulations that we get in Formula 1, the last thing we need is closed cockpit cars. This was a freak accident and a testament to the strength and design of the Schuberth helmet that Massa was wearing. We should all hope he gets well soon and is able to race next year, but in the meantime, we should watch with interest what, if anything, Schumacher can do.

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