Thursday, September 14, 2006

Red Tide

The rumours reported last week in German newspapers that 7 time World Champion Michael Schumacher would announce his retirement Sunday at Monza, Italy did indeed occur.
After loosing pole position to his true replacement Kimi Raikkonen by .002 second, Michael ensued in a “mano-e-mano” duel with Kimi as the two rival drivers simply decimated the entire field by pulling out a 25 second gap over third place. After the first round of pit stops Michael never looked back, keeping Kimi at bay to claim his 5th Italian Grand Prix victory and 90th overall…
Speculation ran rampant the entire weekend as Ferrari would only confirm that a press release would be issued after the race announcing its 2007 driver line-up. Yet first Michael’s manager Willi Weber publicly stating that Michael had made a decision that was “very difficult.” And then Michael complimented his arch nemesis Nick Heidfeld in the Saturday post-qualifying press conference. This seemed to indicate it was pretty obvious that the “gig” was up, eh?
Interestingly Ferrari seems intent to continue its “Younger Generation” driver upgrades by replacing the current elder statesman of F1 with a Finn with raw speed seeking to emulate his predecessor’s Championship form. (Mika Hakkinen) Although Kimi Raikkonen (27) has struggled with Mercedes reliability over the past years, Raikkonen has just surpassed “The Professor’s” (Alain Prost) record pole positions at McLaren.
With Felipe Massa (25) fresh off his first career victory and bold spring in his step it seemed tough to believe Massa would be benched in favour of a Ferrari Schumacher-Raikkonen “super team” a la McLaren’s Raikkonen-Montoya line-up. Massa replaced his senior countryman Rubens Barrichello at the beginning of the season…
In typical German fashion, Michael got the jump on Ferrari when he made the announcement of his impending retirement at the end of the season during the post race interview.
While SPEED’s commentator’s speculated over Michael being pushed aside by Ferrari’s top management, much conjecture was made over Michael giving Luca di Montezemolo the cold shoulder. Ironically Michael was di Montezemolo’s limonene chauffeur for his wedding…
I found it quite amusing to hear Michael prattle on about how it was Felipe’s time and how he wanted to make room for Felipe while sitting alongside “The Iceman.” (Raikkonen) Later on Wind Tunnel Bob Varsha commented how David Coulthard had once said that Kimi was “dead from the feet up” personality-wise. Yet his nickname seems to soot him since he’s now replaced two multi-world champions! Raikkonen’s deal with Ferrari is reportedly for 3 years and a truckload of cash, yet far less then what the Scuderia paid Schumacher...

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