Team Schumacher by Timothy Collings
Release date: 01st January, 2006
Our Price: £12.53
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By Timothy Collings
4sportsbooks.co.uk price: ¬£12.53, saving ¬£6.46 on rrp
With just over a week to go before the new Formula One season screams into action, it seems slightly disconcerting that for once, Michael Schumacher has not been installed as the pre-competition favourite. This is surely an area for concern for a book centred upon the German's undoubted driving prowess and that of his support team's technical wizardry.
If done well, the problem with basing an entire book around a sportsman at the very top of his game is that it takes time: to plan, to write, to interview the main players, to re-write, edit and ultimately publish.
Similarly, if during this period, the central character ceases to be top dog, what may have originally been planned as a celebration of skill, endeavour and, in some cases, genius, becomes instead a retrospective assessment of a career which could be starting to show the first signs of decline.
It is reigning champion Fernando Alonso who will rev up in Manama next week as the favourite to take the F1 crown, the consequence, one suspects, of rules designed last year specifically to prevent Schumacher adding a sixth consecutive driver's title. The consequences of these rule changes were immediate: just as the new Bridgestone tyres were failing to grip successive racetracks around the world, so too was Ferrari's hold on the sport loosening.
This book is less about Michael Schumacher and more about his supporting cast, without whom neither he nor Ferrari could have dominated F1 for so long. Schumacher's story has been told before, but the real surge in his career came when he left Benneton for Ferrari's famous prancing horse.
By his own admission, Schumacher did not appreciate the level of technical expertise required to turn an ordinary F1 car (if such a thing exists) into a world-beater: "When I first came into Formula One," he says, "I didn't really understand what it was all about. I could drive fast, of course, but I had little idea about the complexity of the whole business, which little wheel you had to set in motion in order to get everything going√ĖIn effect, I just used to drive."
The comment is indicative of a modest man who may not have become part of a well-oiled machine when he left Benneton, but he certainly acted as a catalyst for accelerating Ferrari's technical cohesiveness and for championing their engineering prowess.
Collings excels when describing how a disparate group of mostly self-taught characters, engineers and designers (adding several amusing background anecdotes relating to the main players) were able to create the perfect racing car, into which stepped the world's outstanding racing driver.
Formula One's authorities have introduced more new rules ahead of next weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, the most significant for Ferrari being the reduction in engine size, believed to be causing them some trouble. Yet despite a sense that even the best sportsmen begin to lose their hunger after many years at the top, it would surely be foolish to write off a man as driven as Schumacher. Team Schumacher have done it before and if they can get it right in Manama next week, it could be Alonso chasing Schumacher once more, rather than the other way around.
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