Michael Schumacher: The long goodbye
Motivational speeches about life and second chances aside, second acts in sport rarely turn out well. For every Andre Agassi who redeemed his professional and personal reputation with his comeback, thereís a Michael Jordan, a legend not quite tarnished by his misadventures on a baseball field following his first retirement, but one who certainly became more of a punchline after his third and final retirement from basketball. As Sundayís Brazilian Grand Prix brought the curtains down on the 2012 Formula 1 season, it was clear that Michael Schumacherís second go-around was more Jordan than Agassi.
It was always going to be difficult for Schumacher to emulate his own staggering success. By the time he made his comeback in 2010, he was a (very fit) 41-year-old competing in a sport that seems to get younger each passing year. F1 tends to evolve quickly, and the sport had changed dramatically in the three years he had been away, after first retiring as a Ferrari driver in 2006. Expectations were nonetheless high; he re-teamed with old collaborator Ross Brawn at a brand new Mercedes works team, returning to the fold, as it were ó his F1 debut in 1991 was funded by Mercedes.
But through the 2010 season, it became painfully clear that the heady days of 2000-04 were long past. Schumacher had younger, hungrier rivals; he struggled to come to grips with the new tyres; and most incredible of all, his reaction times