Well, one season in for Michael and here's my perspective.
First up, I was a huge Schumacher fan during his first stint in the sport. Unlike a lot of his fans (judging from this thread), since he left I have moved on to another driver. Sorry Michael, you were gone that long that like Helen Hunt in Castaway I'd gone and married the dentist and whilst I've still got a huge soft spot for you I've gone and had a kid (WDC) with that dentist whilst you were gone and I can't give up on that. Rubbish, huh? At least you had the volleyball.
In short hand: mark me down as wanting Schumacher to succed second time round but not being nearly as emotionally invested in it as before. I enjoyed it first time round hugely, and nothing that happened second time round could spoil that. So a relatively dispassionate but definitely friendly/kind observer.
So how did he do? It looked bad the first half of the season. Grim. China was the point that, to me, I realised there was no way we were getting the old Schumi back this time around. If he couldn't conjour even a little bit of magic in those conditions, where he used to excel, the magic was probably gone. The season continued and it carried on looking bleak.
Then things seemed to pick up. He got on or close to Nico's level, even driving better than him on some occasions. He no longer looked like someone in F1 on 70% reputation, 30% talent: he looked like someone who deserved his place there whether he was called Schumacher or Cobblers. And he's ended the season like that.
To me, 2010 has only added to the Schumacher legend. How many drivers could, in the modern era, take 3 years out of the sport (not just out of F1; out of single seat racing), come back at 40+ and be sufficiently competitive to say "this guy deserves his spot on the grid on performance alone"? I am sure to many of Michael's fans, I'm underplaying his season. I am sure to may of his detractors, saying his achievement this year is to "deserve his spot on the grid on performance alone" is damning him with faint praise and it's been a disaster of a season for him. To me, it's a realistic assesment of how he's done relative to where you might hope for a bloke of his age, with his time out, to get to.
That he'll go in to 2011 in with a genuine shout of taking it to Nico and, perhaps, coming out on top is impressive to me. We'll see how it goes. Was the latter third of 2010 really Schumacher finding his feet again in the sport or was it just a fluke? Will changes in the tyres be helpful to him or is blaming 2010 issues on the 2010 Bridgestones just excuse making? We'll find out, I guess.
Still, I expected his 3 year come back to be a 1 year swansong when it was announced. Even more so a third of the way into the season. That he'll be back next season and seemingly in with a chance of beating his team mate: good going, I reckon.
I just like to add, even with the car issues, not understanding tyres and generally not being able to get set up solutions in a difficult season return with no testing, that Michael was still able to put in for the car he was in, a good standard of performance at tracks like Monaco, Spain, Spa, Turkey and Suzuka showed that whatever bad things happened to him in 2010 in other gps, to be able to do performances that were actually some of his best in a year on the more important tracks for driver talent wihatever the rules/cars/tyres/, showed not all is lost. If he didn't perform like he did on those tracks, I think his season would of been very bad and I would have had proper doubts, but that didn't happen.
I also think his starts generally, one lap moving and weaving thru the field/making positions/reactions were the best of anyone on lap 1 this year, it's not bad for the older guy on the grid, it's not a big prize, but shows he's on it very early, of cource his last race was his worst lap of the year on the first lap by a huge margin, but overall his whole season showed good racing grit even in times of performance issues.
Edited by SeanValen, 25 November 2010 - 15:21.