Jean Todt has become the latest pundit to call for Michael Schumacher to be given more time to impress on his F1 comeback.
After the opening four races of 2010, many vocal members of the world of grand prix racing expressed disappointment and criticism of the seven time world champion’s performance.
But FIA president Todt, who is a close friend of the 41-year-old German’s after his long former career as Ferrari team boss, expressed a different attitude during a visit to Spain on Tuesday.
“Just with his presence, there are a lot of people going to the circuits this year; the interest in the championship has grown considerably,” he is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“As for his results, I’d say it’s too early to judge. Don’t forget that he has returned from a long period of inactivity,” added Todt.
In the pages of Spain’s El Pais, the Frenchman is quoted as also saying: “Even a great champion needs a good car to be competitive”, while in Diario AS Todt reportedly added that Schumacher’s return demonstrates “that he still has the same passion for racing”.
“It’s no secret that Michael and I are friends so I would rather see him at the wheel of a F1 car than a motorbike which is much more dangerous.
“When we are closer to the end of the season we will know more about whether Schumacher’s performance was the same as before. We have to wait,” said Todt.
Schumacher’s long time manager Willi Weber, albeit originally advising his former protege against returning in F1, also thinks the winner of 91 grands prix has “presented himself well” so far in 2010.
“That he was not going to drive all the others into the ground was always clear,” Weber told eurosport.de, “even though the race in Shanghai was not satisfactory.
“But I think that no later than 2011, Michael will be back up the front,” he added.
Bridgestone’s Hirohide Hamashima thinks the main problem for Schumacher at present is the tyres.
“The tyre of 2006 was developed mainly by Schumacher,” the Japanese told Switzerland’s Blick. “Now that the front tyre is a lot weaker, it doesn’t really fit his style.”