Saturday, June 26, 2010

Proving a Point

Formula One 2006 Rd.18 Interlagos: #5 Michael ...
Before settling down to write this morning, my cat and I were watching the qualifying runs for the European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain, over coffee. Well, let's put it this way, I was watching and he was getting his morning dose of lap time (no pun intended). One of the great things about this season's racing has been the return of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher to the scene after a three-year "retirement."

You'd think someone with his experience would have a fairly easy time taking the lead in the championship standings, but that hasn't been the case. For one thing, he's driving for a new team, Mercedes-McLaren rather than Ferrari, and this weekend, he's racing on a course he's never driven before. Tire and auto technology have advanced since he retired, and now he's facing a learning curve similar to the one confronting younger, as well as newer, drivers.

During his final lap in the qualifying heats, he was informed by his mechanics team (two-way radios are standard in Formula One) that there was a problem with his power steering and he was asked if could he finish. Silence from Michael as he pushed his car faster and ended up in the top grid. Said one commentator with a chuckle, "I guess that's his answer."

I love seeing a veteran doing what s/he loves and making a comeback. And particularly so when his position in the standings doesn't place him anywhere near the lead. I'm guessing he got plenty of advice, before deciding to return to racing, that suggested this was a risky venture. To begin with, he's older, he's out of practice, and he has his reputation to think about. Did he really want to appear like a former champion who didn't know when to quit?

Apparently, he's got sufficient ego strength and self-awareness to take that risk for the sake of living the life he values the most. He may be like Lance Armstrong, who has begun racing again simply because he loves it. Winning is fine, but he's riding for deeper reasons, to achieve fulfillment, to be his very best self.

Formula One is an expensive enterprise and while having Michael on the team is good PR, sooner or later he's got to pay the rent. I feel certain he knows this and fully intends to do so, leaving those who said he should be cautious to think again.

Sometimes you just have to prove a point.

(GNU Free Documentation Image via Wikipedia)

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