For not the first time in the past year or so, Michael Schumacher spent Sunday afternoon being mugged by a succession of Saubers, Force Indias, and Toro Rossos. And not for the first time, Michael found the concept of hard, but clean combat, an elusive one. In fact, at the end of lap 2, when Vitaly Petrov came steaming up the inside of Schumacher into Turn 12, Michael appeared to momentarily lose his bearings in space-time, nostalgically turning into the side of another car as if he believed himself to be back at Jerez in 1997, battling Jacques Villeneuve for the championship. It was, no doubt, an instinctive move once again, rather than a premeditated one.
Schumacher's driving tactics are not without more far-reaching consequences either. In particular, to stretch a point, when Michael tried to pin Rubens Barrichello against the pit-wall in Hungary last year, he ultimately cost Fernando Alonso the championship.
How so? Well, it's fair to say that, post-Hungary, Rubens's attitude to Michael hardened somewhat. And on the first lap of the championship decider in Abu Dhabi, when Michael attempted to take Barrichello into the first chicane, Rubens shut the door very firmly. This allowed Nico Rosberg the opportunity to barrel down the outside of his team-mate, and gain the inside line for the right-hand component of the corner. Michael tried to hang-on, but was off the racing line, and spun through 180 degrees on the dusty surface. Liuzzi then piled into the stationary Mercedes like a powerboat trying to climb a shingle beach.
It was, of course, the safety car triggered by this incident, which Petrov and Rosberg pitted under, enabling them to jump ahead of Alonso. Hence, Sebastien Vettel has Michael Schumacher (and a multitude of other unconnected variables!), to thank for his 2010 world championship.