Michael Schumacher made a point of telling us after qualifying in Bahrain that by starting seventh he was matching his performance in his first Grand Prix at Spa in 1991.
After he said that this blog told him that we hoped the race would last longer, since Schumacher’s debut with Jordan was famously over after just one corner.
In the event he did get to the flag, albeit in sixth. That low-key showing was enough to cause some consternation amongst the media and public. But the fact is the guy is human, and a comeback win was always something of a long shot.
Three years is a long time, and it will take time for him to get fully back in the groove. Crucially, it’s clear that he finds the Mercedes lacking in front grip at the moment.
Outpaced by team mate Nico Rosberg in qualifying, Michael finished 3.9s behind his countryman, having set a marginally faster lap. It wasn’t too bad, and he had a smile on his face afterwards, and his overall analysis of the race was pretty astute.
“It was certainly better than my first race in ’91,” said Schumacher after the flag. “Lewis had a little [mistake] so Nico was able to pass him. He got back past at the pit stop, and that’s about it, that’s the action we’re going to have unfortunately with this kind of environment of race strategy. Anyway it was good fun, especially the beginning. And now we are going to work forward to catch up whoever’s in front of us.
“There are those new rules with the tyres that everybody has to cope with. I struggle a little bit with those, I have to say. But after three years not being there I guess it’s natural that you have to find your way into new bits and pieces. The team and myself have got to work on that.”
Michael said he had a close shave with his own team mate at the start: “I came off the line very good, I made up a position. It was a little bit tight with Nico and myself, I think we even had a little kiss! If it just stays among team mates, it’s OK, nothing serious. And then it was just straightforward.
“The only surprise was the tyres held up better than I expected, I expected a much worse scenario, the tyres giving up and sliding and all this.”
Intriguingly, Schumacher even found some positive words to say about his former team. “I think Ferrari and the Red Bull as we all expected have done a great job. I feel happy for Ferrari in particular after a tough year last year to be back on the road…”
Will he be so happy if the red cars continue to win? Time will tell.