2010 Mercedes Race Engineers: Who Partners Schumacher?


What Happens When History Makes Things Interesting

12:02am EST — There could have been some disgruntled employees in Brackley this coming Formula1 season, except Michael Schumacher’s engineer at Mercedes will be Andrew Shovlin.  Schumacher will work with, essentially, the reigning world champion race engineer, as it was Shovlin who assisted Jenson Button to his 2009 victory.  Schumacher and Clear, however, have had quite the contentious history.

In fact, Clear determined “that Michael would lose if you put him under a huge amount of pressure.  He lost the 1998 world championship to Hakkinen by stalling on the grid. I mean who stalls on the grid for heaven’s sake?” as Clear apparently explained in an interview with Allen in 2007.

According to James Allen, of ITV and Schumacher biography fame, Nico Rosberg will be teamed with Clear, who helped Jacques Villeneuve to his 1997 championship victory over Schumacher.  Clear was Rubens Barrichello’s engineer for the 2009 season at the team formerly known as BrawnGP.  As Allen noted on his personal site, “this will make for an interesting dynamic as Rosberg certainly did not expect to be sharing Mercedes with Schumacher when he signed on the dotted line.”  He and Clear will likely be looking for any way to beat the 7-time champion and improve Rosberg’s status, both within the team and in the paddock.

While the Shovlin/Schumacher pairing seems to be a better, less contentious match, it may not be as effective as pairing the two former rivals together.  It seems that Clear has a clear (pun certainly intended) read on how Schumacher works and what tends to trip him up.  If the two men would be able to put old battles behind them, though there is no word that they have not done so, Clear might have been able to help Schumacher refine his technique and move past previous behavioral pitfalls.

There might have been no stopping Schumacher, Ross Brawn, and a devil’s advocate in Clear.  Or, everything could have devolved into a fractious mess.  It still could do so, possibly even becoming a bad enough situation that the MotoGP wall-down-the-middle-of-the-pits solution be implemented (see Valentino Rossi/Jorge Lorenzo and Colin Edwards/James Toseland).  The myriad ways Schumacher’s return will tease and entertain for 2010 have yet to be fully determined.

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