'Random' results raise Schumi's hopes in Montreal

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 June, 2012, 12:00am


Formula One finds itself in North America this weekend and the big question is can the seventh race on the calendar produce the seventh different winner? If so, I wonder how many punters fancy a bet on Michael Schumacher?

The seven-times world champion has been largely underwhelming and underperforming on his return to the sport he dominated for so long. This season he only has two points and has been criticised for such a poor return in a competitive car that his produced 59 points for teammate Nico Rosberg.

There was a flash of the old Schumacher brilliance in Monaco when he produced the fastest lap in qualifying. Yet it came to nothing with a grid penalty and a subsequent retirement. This column has long argued it was a mistake to return to the fray and put his legacy in the sport at risk.

But Jenson Button has rebuked us non-believers this week. He's a man who knows what it's like to be in the doldrums with Honda, before the wind caught his sails and delivered him a world championship with Brawn. He says Schumacher's critics need to understand that to become competitive again it will take time.

Time is likely to be on the German's side if he wants it. His boss, Ross Brawn, says he'd like the veteran to stay on as long as he is competitive. Schumacher remains non-committal on his future, in public at least. He says that one result won't affect his decision, but I bet getting on the top step of the podium in Montreal might.

Now for one of my pet topics - sexism in the sport. I'm not sure that drooling over half-dressed 'pit babes' is the image the sport should be portraying in the 21st century. Imagine then my delight to read that Susie Wolf has been hired by Williams as a test driver.

Sadly, reality soon struck. F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was quick to welcome the move, saying: 'If Susie is as quick in the car as she looks good out of a car then she will be a massive asset to the team.' This is a woman who has raced against Lewis Hamilton in karts and Formula Renault and who mixes it with the men in the DTM series.

When she lines up on the grid in the German series, there is a scantily-clad grid girl in front of her. She tolerates it, although intriguingly refused point blank an offer of a 'grid guy'. According to a newspaper profile, she said: 'I don't want to be looking at that on the grid.'

And yet that same article had her posing in a tight leather cat suit in front of a sports car. David Beckham may pose in his briefs for bundles of dollars, but I doubt many male F1 racers would be asked to strike such a pose for publicity's sake. Danica Patrick is an extremely talented racer stateside, but Google her and you are as likely to see pictures of her in next to nothing as in her racing gear.

Around the F1 paddock there are many women in many roles, but not so many at the sharp end. Maria de Villota has been hired as a test driver by Marussia, so things are looking up.

Unlike many sports, in motorsport women have half a chance to compete equally with the men. It's been a long time since a woman made a ripple in this male-dominated sport. Twenty years ago, Giovanna Amati drove a Brabham, but you have to go back 36 years to find a woman lining up on the grid. Lella Lombardi even finished in the points once.

Wouldn't it be great for the sport to have a woman (or two) competing again - perhaps supported by a female race engineer.