There’s a certain amount of regrettable irony in the fact that Michael Schumacher should injure himself severely on the ski slopes in retirement after surviving almost unscathed in Formula One for so many years.
Of course, everyone is praying that the 44-year-old makes a full recovery from emergency brain surgery after hitting his head on a rock while enjoying time off piste with his young son. He did once manage to crash a motorcyle in Spain while in between jobs but his accident in Meribel has proved much more serious than that. Schumacher, who drove for Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari and Mercedes, won 91 Grand Prix – a record – and is generally regarded as one of the most technically gifted drivers of all time in Formula One.
His former colleagues and the world of sport, in general, has been shocked by his accident but Formula One is still continuing its preparations for the new season. Some teams have been testing new tyres over the last couple of weeks and we already know that new regulations will mean a radical overhaul in the sport in 2014, designed to make F1 greener and more relevant to today’s road cars.
It may just mean the end of Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull‘s domination as everyone, in theory, starts with a clean slate and it might not be advisable taking shorts odds on driver and team winning next year’s titles though Renault, who supply Red Bulls’ engines, have still been the most fuel- efficient in recent years so might have a bit of a head start. Red Bull are only a best 6/4 at BetVictor and Skybet.
Ferrari have, once again, thrown plenty of money at development and, with a few doubts surrounding their likely market rivals, could be worth a small bet at 4/1 with BetVictor and William Hill to win the Constructors’ Championship in 2014 as they have two talented and vastly experienced drivers in former world champions Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.
Vettel has a new and relatively inexperienced team-mate in Daniel Ricciardo and it shouldn’t be forgotten how many points previous number two Mark Webber contributed to the cause. Mercedes, in theory, should be favoured by new regulations but the departure of designer Ross Brawn is a big blow – they are 5/2 with Coral.