Indian fans bid fond farewell to Schumacher the legend

Fans. Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Race, Sunday 28 October 2012.

Michael Schumacher fans at Buddh circuit

Oct.29 (Reuters) India bid a fond farewell to seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher on Sunday as the great who got young sports fans in the country hooked on Formula One competed in the country for the last time.

Fans. Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Race, Sunday 28 October 2012.F1 has never been as popular as cricket in this ‘nation of cricketers’ but the German’s fame travelled way beyond the confines of a circuit and he became the face of the sport, and a household name in India.

Many of the 62 000 spectators at the Buddh International Circuit were there to cheer on the 43-year-old Mercedes driver, and former Ferrari champion, who is retiring at the end of the season in three races’ time.

“I’m wearing this T-shirt because of being a patriot,” said one fan in a Force India team shirt and Schumacher cap.

“But I’ve been supporting Schumacher since I was 16 years-old and I know he’s not in the best of form because of his car but he’s a legend and he’ll always be one. And I’m only supporting him, only him.”

F1 has only been regularly aired on television in India since the mid-90s and a generation of young fans grew up watching Schumacher take the fight in a relatively uncompetitive Ferrari to the far more superior Williams and McLaren cars.

Fans. Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Race, Sunday 28 October 2012.Stories of his drives in Hungary 1998 or Spain 1996 are the stuff of legend among fans of the sport here and his success in restoring Ferrari’s lustre, and his dominant run of five world championships from 2000 to 2004, only made him more popular.

Last year’s inaugural Indian Grand Prix, when Schumacher was a shadow of his former self, was the first chance for locals to see him race.

Even if his three-year comeback has not lived up to expectations, the loyalty of India’s small legion of F1 fans appeared undiminished on Sunday.

“He has that brand value, no other player has that brand with him,” said Rishabh, an 18-year-old from Delhi who admits he isn’t a regular follower of the sport.

“Not the car but the number of fans Schumacher has no one else has. He’s the personal favourite of many.”

If most fans were clad in Ferrari or McLaren merchandise, affection for Schumacher was evident.

Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03. Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Race, Sunday 28 October 2012.“The legend always stays the legend so there is always a soft corner for Schumi, so I guess it feels bad that he’s going to be out of racing,” said Priyadarshan, who works for McLaren sponsors SAP and was a guest of the team.

“In fact, even though I was sitting in the McLaren paddock, I was trying to get a glimpse of Schumi,” he said.

In the end it was another German, Red Bull‘s championship leader and race winner Sebastian Vettel, who hogged the limelight with Schumacher’s supporters disappointed.

The German started 14th and a puncture as a result of Jean Eric Vergne’s Torro Rosso clipping his right rear wheel at the first corner dropped him to the back of the field where he was soon lapped.

He retired three laps from the end, after also coming under investigation for ignoring blue flags warning him of faster drivers behind.

The fans forgave him anyway.

“Michael Schumacher is my favourite, all time hit, he’s there,” Vimal Jain, a die-hard Ferrari fan attending his 26th Grand Prix, said. “Whether he won, whether he lost, no problems.”

Subbed by AJN.

  • hammad

    I wish I were there. Hang whole Mercedes technical team to death. They destroyed MSC’s legacy

  • Venezia

    I agree. Schumacher forever! The greatest!

  • Samraat

    Fact: Whenever anyone drives fast on the roads in India, immediately he is nicknamed as ‘Schumacher’.

  • michaelprescott

    Hammad: he destroyed his own legacy by attempting a comeback.
    I’m an American so I will give you examples that I know. MIchael Jordan and Brett Farve for two. There would have been no shame for MS to get into another type of racing, such as endurance type 12-24 hour racing. That type is a whole different style. To put the blame on his technical squad alone is foolish and emotional.

  • Mappu

    Despite having 4 technical directors apart from Brawn mercedes were not able to produce any race winning car over these three years. My beloved Michael could not do anything special due to the poor car coupled with his age factors. All these have certainly damaged his legacy a bit but still as an overall package no one can match schumi. Enjoy your private life in retirement. But certainly we miss the genius.

  • Hammad

    @michaelprescott
    If only MS is to blame then why cant Rosberg fetch the results? His lap times in 2012 are as good as Rosberg’s and he has out qualified his younger team mate 9 times to 8 in 17 races of 2012. His qualifying in Monoco is evidence of the fact that he is very quick even at 43 once he has a car to meet the front runners. F1 supremo Bernie has numerously stated that MS would have won in Redbull. Mercedes have 5 races now with no points and teams like force India and Sauber with budgets significantly lower than Mercedes have outpaced them. They hired aldo costa from Ferrari along with a number of others but have produced this sh*t. A very important stat is that among all Mercedes Powered Cars MS has lowest number of points. 7 DNF’s are too much with only 2 due to the driver errors.