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Comeback Kings – Michael Schumacher vs. Kimi Räikkönen

19

March 20, 2013 by thedavidryan

Schumi vs. Kimi – Who had the better comeback?

When most people retire from their profession, they often spend their time watching Countdown and waiting to die. Rarely will someone get so bored of retirement that they decide to leave Countdown behind and head back into their old job. Formula One however, is a different matter.

In 2010, after four years away, seven time world champion Michael Schumacher returned to the sport as part of the Mercedes AMG Petronas team alongside fellow countryman Nico Rosberg.

Two years later in 2012, former world champion Kimi Räikkönen announced his plans to return to the sport as part of the Lotus F1 team.

Kimi Räikkönen and Michael Schumacher

While both drivers have been hugely successful during their first stints in Formula One, returning to the sport a few years after your peak can have mixed fortunes. Therefore today’s blog will look at Michael Schumacher vs Kimi Räikkönen in who has had the most successful comeback.

Round One: Anticipation

While it was exciting to hear about the return of the Iceman Kimi Räikkönen at the start of the 2012 Formula One season, nothing can compare to the king of modern F1 dusting off his crown and heading back to the track. Michael Schumacher is the most decorated Formula One driver in history with an astonishing seven world titles to his name. So the return of such an iconic superstar to the sport will unfortunately always supersede the return of the enigmatic Räikkönen.

Winner: Michael Schumacher

Round Two: Return race

The first round of the 2012 season kicked off at Albert Park in Melbourne and saw the racing return of Kimi Räikkönen. Unfortunately Räikkönen began the season by qualifying 17th for the Australian Grand Prix after making a mistake on his last flying lap. However, he recovered his weekend during the race the next day, as he finished in a respectable 7th place.

In contrast Michael Schumacher’s 2010 return race in Bahrain was significantly more impressive. The once dominant German qualified in an admirable 7th place, one position higher than the 2009 world champion Jenson Button. On race day Schumacher was able to find his racing groove and place the Mercedes AMG Petronas car in a tidy sixth place.

Winner: Michael Schumacher

Round Three: Consistency

Unfortunately, Michael Schumacher’s impressive start to his Formula One return did not last long. In his first season back the German star finished ninth in the driver standings with zero wins, zero poles and zero fastest laps throughout the 2010 season. Things improved slightly the following year as Michael Schumacher finished in eighth overall, but once again that first win since returning continued to elude the seven time world champion. Schumacher’s final year of his return was his worst since 1991, as Schumi finished in thirteenth position as the season concluded. While the year was a complete disaster for both team and driver, the legendary driver did manage to stand on the podium in Valencia, finishing third, and set the fastest lap in his home race at Germany’s Hockenheim circuit.

Kimi Räikkönen on the other hand has been much more successful and consistent since his return. The Finn has already notched up two wins since coming back to the F1 grid with impressive victories in the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and most recently the 2013 Australian Grand Prix. Räikkönen also finished third in his come back season and claimed a mightily impressive seven podiums with one fastest lap. The most remarkable statistic however, is that Räikkönen is currently on an unbelievable point scoring streak after being in the points for the last eighteen consecutive races.

Winner: Kimi Räikkönen

Round Four: Impact

While Michael Schumacher is universally appreciated by fans and critics around the world, the German has always been known for his prickly personality. Michael Schumacher has also been surrounded by controversy his entire career whether it is pulling dubious moves out on track or by having an entire team work round him in order to keep him happy. Suffice to say the paddock was happier to have the esteemed driver back than the man himself.

On the other hand Kimi Räikkönen is a cult hero and is adored by everyone in the Formula One community. Kimi is one of the best characters to ever pull on a racing helmet and F1 is a much better sport for having him race in it. His comeback season highlighted this perfectly as the Finn was on course to win the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix before his race engineer contacted him on the team radio, only to be greeted with a now infamous reception from the Iceman:

Winner: Kimi Räikkönen

Round Five: The verdict

While Schumacher’s first race was the more impressive out of the two, the German ultimately failed to deliver the goods on track. His below par performances were deeply disappointing and his final season was a disaster that slightly tarnished the legacy of the once feared driver.

Kimi Räikkönen on the other hand is seemingly going from strength to strength since his comeback. With the new F1 season only one race old, Kimi has already bested Michael Schumacher’s returning three year period in the sport. With one race win already under his belt this year, it looks highly likely that more wins are on their way for the Iceman.

Winner and Comeback King: Kimi Räikkönen

So there we have it, Kimi Räikkönen wins the ultimate comeback showdown. Don’t worry though because I know what you’re thinking, Kimi is probably still heartbroken that Schumi isn’t on the grid anymore right? Wrong:

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19 thoughts on “Comeback Kings – Michael Schumacher vs. Kimi Räikkönen

  1. Bloody love Raikkonen! He seems like a bloke who’s racing just because he can not because he wants to. I used to hate Schumacher when he was winning everything but I did feel a little sorry for him during his comeback as he barely made an impression. Nice piece mate.

    • thedavidryan says:

      “Just leave me alone I know what I’m doing” – The best part of last season.

      Thank you kindly my good man. I agree, Schumi was a lot more relaxed this time round but that last season was appaling my anyone’s standards.

  2. Poor Schumi. All the people he upset on the way up were waiting for him on the way down. There’s rough justice and neat symmetry in his overall career path.

    You can’t say his last season was appalling though, not with pole in Monaco. And all those no fault DNFs at the beginning didn’t help. He had more consistent points finishes than Rosberg and he was hardly blasted off into the weeds by his team mate.

    Undoubtedly Raikkonen’s come back has been more impressive. But how does Schumi’s comeback rate against those of Prost, Lauda and Mansell? Kimi’s great but will he ever rank against all of them?

    • thedavidryan says:

      I love that: “All the people he upset on the way up were waiting for him on the way down” – very true!

      Only time will tell where Kimi will rank against those legends. If he takes home this years F1 title (I know it is too early to tell) it would be a very good comeback.

      Thanks for your comment.

  3. rookief1 says:

    Although there was a great deal of anticipation with Schumacher, his return was wholly disappointing, apart from the fact we got to discover his lighter/human side. It is a shame to think who else could have had that seat instead. So even before I read the article I came to the conclusion that Raikkonen had this hands down, I admire talent, but it’s always great fun to have a decent personality in the paddock too. Nice article.

  4. Paolo Aversa, Ph.D. says:

    Interesting piece. I agree with David: Kimi is doing definitely better. I am the kind of person who’s rather good at finding questions than giving answers. My questions in this case are:
    1. Did Kimi and Michael restarted from a similar base in terms of health, age, and psychological expectations?
    2. What was the price to pay in case of a failing comeback for Michael? What would be the price for Kimi? Might this different psychological set up have worked as a motivational incentive, or rather as a oppressive anxiety for the two champions?

    My personal (and probably wrong) idea.
    Michael Schumacher is a living legend for motorsport. At Ferrari (and in general in Italy) he was worshipped as a semi-god. When he came back he was older than Kimi, he had back problem, and he was stepping from a top-team where he ruled an undiscussed king (first as driver, and later as consultant and tester) to a underdog car. It was a huge risk, a very criticable decision, and the likelihood of failure was huge. I actually wonder if he really ever believed he could make a real impact, given these premises.

    Kimi is a good driver, an enjoyable character, but not a legend. He came back while he is still relatively young, and with a very promising team. He feels the weight of some expectations, but I believe that is not a huge burden in his case. If it goes well, great. If goes bad, it’s not a tragedy: there’s no legend to tear apart. And the likelihood of doing good are much higher than the ones Schumacher had.

    I welcome comments!

    • thedavidryan says:

      Thanks for the feedback Paolo 🙂

      I agree completely in your points and if it were a level playing field things might have been much different. Schumi is an unquestionable legend and I think his return made people look at him in a different light that helped his hero status.

      Thanks for the comment!

  5. Paolo Aversa, Ph.D. says:

    Reblogged this on Motorsport Strategy and commented:
    Interesting piece. I agree with David: Kimi is doing definitely better. I am the kind of person who’s rather good at finding questions than giving answers. My questions in this case are:
    1. Did Kimi and Michael restarted from a similar base in terms of health, age, and psychological expectations?
    2. What was the price to pay in case of a failing comeback for Michael? What would be the price for Kimi? Might this different psychological set up have worked as a motivational incentive, or rather as a oppressive anxiety for the two champions?
    My personal (and probably wrong) idea.
    Michael Schumacher is a living legend for motorsport. At Ferrari (and in general in Italy) he was worshipped as a semi-god. When he came back he was older than Kimi, he had back problem, and he was stepping from a top-team where he ruled an undiscussed king (first as driver, and later as consultant and tester) to a underdog car. It was a huge risk, a very criticable decision, and the likelihood of failure was huge. I actually wonder if he really ever believed he could make a real impact, given these premises.
    Kimi is a good driver, an enjoyable character, but not a legend. He came back while he is still relatively young, and with a very promising team. He feels the weight of some expectations, but I believe that is not a huge burden in his case. If it goes well, great. If goes bad, it’s not a tragedy: there’s no legend to tear apart. And the likelihood of doing good are much higher than the ones Schumacher had.

  6. Tribute Racing says:

    I love the article! While I feel sorry Schumacher’s comeback was with a rather disjointed Mercedes team, I am delighted Lotus and Kimi are growing so much together. It was a perfect ending to add the clip of Kimi saying how he doesn’t miss Michael.

  7. Although it is absolutely undisputable that Kimi’s return was more successfull, I will try and make a case for Michael. First and foremost, and it was stated above, there is the age issue. The whole idea of a come back from Michael was a mistake and I think he finally got it. As good as you maybe to ride with the best, if three drivers became the youngest world champion ever in the course of 5 seasons (and two double-champions also in 5, and one triple-champion in 7), a record that stood for 23 year, that surely means something is changing. So Michael was fighting against his own decay in a way Kimi isn’t and that is unsurmountable. Secondly, Michael suffered from as much bad luck in his second stint as he had endured of good fortune in the first. Pity the nice MIchael was the one suffering setbacks while the ruthless one didn’t, it puts the hole notion of karma into perspective. I remember at least the Monaco pole that prevented a likely win because of a penalty in the previous race (instant karma?) and the rain stoping at Canada preventing Schumi not only from winning but also from making the podium.

    This being said, I feel very happy Kimi is doing well.

    As a suggestion, would you compare Kimi’s 3 years at Ferrari with Alonso’s first 3 and the two seasons Alonso was at Renault with the 2 Kimi is currently enjoying? You would find that, in terms of results (wins, poles, fastest laps and world titles) Kimi fares much better. And he never had the undisputed nº 1 status.

    I know numbers don’t tell the whole story but this, I believe, poses a challenge.

  8. theworldofmotoring says:

    Really nice blog! I think Kimi had the better comeback because schumi didnt win a race, never really finished a race, but was a nice person and a good driver when needed to be! Even if Kimi likes to be left alone (we all know that was hilarious!!), he was and still is the better driver out of the 2

  9. Great read mate. The results already indicate Raikkonen’s comeback to be far more successful, and it’s crazy to think what he could yet achieve over the coming years. I reckon the next question may be who had the better comeback out of Raikkonen and Niki Lauda, who’s pretty much the only driver to have had a fully successful return…

    In Schumacher’s defence I guess his age played a big role, as did the fact he barely raced anything in his three years out. His peak was probably 2002-2004, so expecting him to repeat his results at the age of 40 was probably asking a bit much. Raikkonen meanwhile came back in his early 30s, which is considered to be close to a driver’s peak (Alonso, Mansell, Webber, Schumacher etc..). The rule changes between 2006-2010 were also much more advanced than those made while Raikkonen was out, but that’s where Schumacher’s excuses probably end.

    In terms of consistency, Raikkonen’s second coming has been unbelievable. He looks a shadow of the erratic driver seemingly disinterested with Ferrari in 2009. As you mentioned, there’s plenty of success to come!

    • thedavidryan says:

      Thanks for the feedback Richard! I agree Kimi has definitely had more success but there are many factors, as you pointed out, why Schumi didn’t have as much success. Kimi for the title in 2013? I hope so!

  10. hotcrossbungay says:

    Reblogged this on Mighty Mikey's Mega Blog.

  11. Eoin says:

    Agree that Kimi has performed much better since his return. Much of that however is the car. Mercedes were only for short time capable of race victory (early 2012) and at no other point in their recent history since 2010. But my quarrel would be that Schumacher didn’t really have a terrible season in 2012. It was actually his best since his comeback. Arguably he would have got on podium in China (starting 2nd, team error with wheel caused him to DNF) Malaysia in wet (perfect for him – Canada 2011) was ruined by the useless Grosjean. Monaco he most probably would’ve won were it not for a grid penalty after claiming Pole in Q, and a hit by Grosjean again, DNF. 13th overall, down to 7DNF’s. Mostly Team error/technical faults. With finishes he probably pushes Nico or finishes higher.

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