Yas Marina: Seven times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher, who came out of retirement last year, has lost the "edge" that had separated him from the rest at his peak, according to his rival since karting days and fellow-German Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
Here to attend the unveiling of drivers for the inaugural i1Super Series, the 44-year-old Frentzen who was once considered to be quicker than Schumacher, said: "As you grow older, you tend to hesitate and become indecisive whether or not to push and take risks. You lose precious tenths of a second. I think, Michael is at that stage in his career."
Schumacher, who retired in 2007 but returned to Formula One with Mercedes GP team, finished the 2010 season in ninth position with 72 points, but without a win or a podium finish, and this year, he was eighth with 76 points.
Frentzen, who along with Schumacher was hailed as the best racing talent emerging from Germany, had only three wins and 18 podium finishes from 156 starts for a record that never quite reflected his talent.
"I think, I took the wrong decisions while Michael (Schumacher) took the right ones," said Frentzen whose rivalry with Schumacher dates back to the Mercedes Junior programme. He opted out of it in favour of Jordan team in F3000 series. Schumacher earned a spot in the Jordan F1 team the same year and never looked back.
"In 1994, I joined Sauber and later that year, I had an offer from Williams as a replacement for Ayrton Senna who died in a crash. I rejected the offer as Sauber had given me a break into F1.”
"But when I eventually joined Williams in 1997, things had changed in the team," recalled Frentzen who though won his first race at San Marino and eventually finished second in the championship behind Villeneuve after Schumacher was stripped of his points following the Jerez incident when he deliberately ran into the Canadian.
"I had some good races and bad, but after I retired in 2003, I have never really missed Formula One, but have raced on and off in other series," said Frentzen.
On his participating in the five-10, i1Super Series, promoted by Machdar Motorsports, in a far slower car than he had driven earlier, Frentzen asserted that it would still be challenge and he was quite excited at the prospect of driving in a new series.
"It is a challenge because no matter which Formula car you drive, you still need to understand the machine, its capabilities and adapt your driving accordingly and I am quite excited to be part of this series," said Frentzen.