Tracy may have gotten 6th, but his actual performance level doesn't seem to be what it was. I wouldn't say its all his age, but not racing in the series consistently surely is hurting him on this. And I've no doubt its hurt Schumacher, too, who took three whole years off of car racing. The Mansell example isn't a good one because the guy never stopped racing. He left for a single year to go race in another highly competitive open-wheel series, where he still showed to be on top of his game. Then he came back into F1. I wouldn't say his situation is in the least bit comparable to what Schumacher is doing here. And if you do insist on using him as an example, lets not forget what happened when Mansell stayed in F1 for another year after that.
Schumacher cannot be 'exposed'. It implies that all of his masterful, genius drives of the past all somehow had nothing to do with him. The guy is a legend, still is, no matter how much he's probably lost 'it', and I think its pretty sad to see so many people enjoying this opportunity to try and tarnish the guy's past reputation. And I'm not even a fan of the dude!
Surley the point that has been proved once and for all here is that if a car does not suit a driver and he doesn't feel comfortable, if he doesn't have a chance of success then no matter how talented he is he will not give 100%
Mansell clicked with the 94 williams, had a crack at success and was fast, didn't like the 95 Mclaren, hadn't a hope of winning and was slow, he didn't lose his talent over the winter, just his feel with that car and a crack at a win.
No reasonable fan of the sport questions that Schumacher is fast, nor do they doubt that he's being hurt by a chassis that doesn't suit him but that's not really the point being made by many. During MS's peak his fans eternally stated that Michael could be fast in any car, totally adaptable, that he never gave up, that the only reason his car had great reliability was his driving and the only reason the car was fast was because of his feedback and technical leadership. Michael was the sun around which everything else revolved.
Now suddenly he's not fast because the car doesn't suit, what happened to the adaptability? why doesn't the car suit him, what happened to the feedback and technical leadership? he's giving up until next year, what happened to the drive and determination?
What effect did it have on his team mates when they rarely had a car that suited them? or tyres not designed for them? at the time the MS fans claimed any driver could do it in any top car if they had the talent, not liking that car wasn't an excuse, that's suddenly changed, hasn't it? Also if not having a chance to win the title has dented his ability to give 100% then what effect did it have on his team mates down the years who were effectivley never allowed the chance to go for it?
Not only did they suffer the moral draining knowledge that it would never be their year but they were even frozen out of access to Schumachers telemetry, denied access to testing, were told to move aside to hand him results or slow down to help him jump rivals at pit stops and even had their chasiss taken from them when it suited Michael.
How the hell do you give your best in that kind of hostile, devaluing environment when Schumachers losing his edge just with the knowledge his cars not a race winner?
No, to me this doens't make Schumacher an also ran that lucked into 7 titles but it does highlight the fact that, for his team mates, it was never a fair fight against him. Michael Schumacher today is facing a tiny fraction of the crap that his team mates had to put up with in the past and it's breaking him in half a season. When you add the fact that his team mates were never top flight in the first place, plus the FIA protection and technical advantages he enjoyed over other rivals outside his team it's easy to see why people hold those 7 titles in less regard than Prosts 4 for example.
Schumacher is a fast tough talented racer but the 'legend' of Schumacher, the 'greatest of all time' stuff is an artificially constructed reputation built in an environment that no longer exists and without that environment he is suffering badly.