It is not right to say Michael Schumacher’s return to formula one this year was a failure, his former championship rival Jacques Villeneuve insists.
The seven time world champion struggled with the Mercedes car alongside Nico Rosberg in 2010, but Villeneuve thinks Schumacher ultimately had the edge on his younger teammate.
“It was difficult for him until mid-season but by the end he was ahead of his teammate,” the French Canadian told French language autohebdo.fr.
Villeneuve, who beat Schumacher to the 1997 title, also thinks F1 fans have a rosy recollection of the great Schumacher.
“At Ferrari, he was one or two tenths ahead of his teammate but rarely more,” said the 39-year-old.
“Everyone thought he was going to be a second ahead of Rosberg, but it was never even like that in the past.”
Villeneuve also wanted to come back to F1 this year and he said he acknowledges the enormity of the challenge.
“It’s difficult,” he said. “I was away for six months (in 2004) and physically it was tough, and then you’re getting your bearings. The last tenth is hard to get back.”
Villeneuve also backs Schumacher’s claim that the 2010 Mercedes car was a main reason for his results this year.
“If the car didn’t suit him then that’s hard to resolve,” he said, “but at the end of the season he was there.”
In a new interview with CNN, Schumacher was asked whether he is risking his reputation by pushing ahead with an unsuccessful return to F1.
“I enjoy it. I feel I have the right to do what I enjoy. Whether I put in dispute my reputation … I just feel good about my decision and I have so much support from people,” said the German.
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