Sunday, October 22, 2006

Thank you Michael

Well, it's done. The last race for what surly will historicity be known as the greatest race driver ever came to a close Sunday afternoon in Brazil. No storybook ending; Massa won going away, Alonzo took second & the drivers title, Renault edges out Ferrari for the constructors and Michael finished fourth. Oh, but what a forth place finish.

Qualifying started out quite well. Massa set a new track record (1:10.643) leading a Ferrari one/two in Q1. In Q2, Michael scorched the track and reset the all time fastest lap himself (1:10.313). It looked like an all Ferrari front row could be in the making. But then in Q3, the gremlins that have been all over Michael the last two weekends showed themselves. Michael led the line out of the pits but immediately his car died. Seems a fuel pump or something broke and took him completely out of the session. Therefore he gets 10th on the grid. Plus he doesn't get to burn off the fuel that the other 9 drivers did, putting him even more solidly behind the eight ball. Massa took poll while the Renault's slotted in at 4 and 6. Not a good situation for Michael.

At the start of the race Massa took off like a rocket but Michael was a man possessed. He charged up the grid until he was just behind Fisichella. Then made a superb pass on a corner to bring him right into Alonzo's exhaust pipe. But Fisi couldn't let Michael by so he slammed the door on him and, in doing so, caught Michael's left rear tire with his front wing. The resulting crawl into the pits and tire change caused Michael to fall all the way to the back of the line in P17. Now it's really the end of the line for him, right?

Well, no. Michael was dead last, just a couple of seconds in front of Massa and looking like he might get lapped. But now you start seeing why Michael is the 7 time champion and holder of all the significant records in Formula 1. From this point Michael put on a clinic on what it means to be a true driver. Knowing he's lost the drivers championship and will not likely win the race he still drives as if it were his first win. He sliced through the field and tore up the ranks to reach 8th. What a feet! With all that was going on he made it into the points. But he wasn't done. No sir.

In the later laps of the race Michael's Ferrari seemed to have a twitch in it. For some inexplicable reason it would lose power or something on him. It happened at least twice and both of them were at points when he was just about to make a pass. Still, he calmly collected himself and ripped up Interlagos hauling himself past Rubens, Fisichella, and the man who will be taking his ride in '07 Kimi Räikkönen. He made it up to P4 and was climbing all over Jenson's backside at the finish line. To illustrate how much of a competitor he is, Michael set fast lap of the race on lap 70! Given 10 more laps and he would have caught everyone but Massa. If you have a young driver in your life you would be doing them a great service by showing them this last Ferrari/Schumacher drive. That's what it is all about. There was no reason at all for Michael to try and do anything but finish the race, especially after the flat. But he kept racing like it was mid-season and every little point counted.

At the end of the day, Massa won in his home race, Alonzo clinched the Drivers Championship and Renault the Constructors Title. But it was Michael who put on the show of a true champion. Down to the last... Never say die... Racing in the blood...

There are more stars coming up in F1 (Robert Kubica, Scott Speed, Massa, Kimi in a Ferrari, and many new names). They would all do well to watch this last race from Michael. It was a clinic. It was vintage Michael Schumacher. Period.

For more on this go to -Now comes the end. For 16 years he was the pinnacle of his sport. And for those years, I say: Thank you Michael.

Thank you.

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