Mercedes team members Ron Meadows and James Vowles have explained the impact Michael Schumacher had on the Brackley-based outfit and how he deserves some of the credit for helping lay the foundation for their present-day success.
The Silver Arrows returned as a works team in 2010 as they took over from 2009 title winners Brawn GP and caused quite the stir when it was announced that the great Michael Schumacher would return to the sport to partner Nico Rosberg.
In the three years between 2010 and 2012, however, the Mercs were not quite the front-runners on the grid with Red Bull enjoying a period of real dominance, and both Rosberg and Schumacher largely had to settle for points finishes at best.
The great man reminded us of what he could still do in spurts towards the end of his second spell, though, with a spell-binding pole lap in Monaco in 2012 that was ultimately pushed back by a grid-penalty he had had to carry over from the previous race.
Indeed, for Vowles, speaking to the Beyond the Grid podcast, it was a real sense of heartbreak that Schumacher didn’t get that particular shot at one final Grand Prix victory.
“I was over the moon and I think it was one of the best laps he’d probably ever done in his life, but I was heartbroken, truly heartbroken for him that this is a guy that we all wanted.
“Around this table and within the factory – for him to win a race, because he deserved it frankly, and he put so much effort into the team and so much of his life into the team that it was payback for him and that was his opportunity through the year.
“And I was heartbroken with the fact that that one race was where he dropped back. I felt for him – I still feel now – he didn’t get all the results that he deserved give the amount he was putting in the team.”
Indeed, it was a sentiment echoed by all four Mercedes team members that were on the podcast.(Simon Cole, Andrew Shovlin, and Ron Meadows joining Vowles to look back at their years at Brackley since the BAR days in the late-90s,) with Meadows saying Schumacher deserves enormous credit for helping lay the foundations and forming the hard-working, professional culture that has teed up such immense success since 2014:
“Given how he helped us improve, I think certainly my biggest regret was not seeing Michael win a race for us, because he was a different level of driver we’d ever worked with at that point.
“I really believe we all wanted him to win. It didn’t happen. A couple of years later we couldn’t stop winning and he deserves some of that because the reason we’re winning today, a lot was down to him because he made us better.”
Schumacher bowed out of the sport at the end of 2012, bringing down a second curtain on a career that saw the most incredible highs during his peak years at Ferrari.