Michael Schumacher is not as relaxed as he tries to show about his issues to be competitive again this season, reckons his friend and former boss, FIA president Jean Todt.
Schumacher, 41, has returned to the sport after a three-year absence, but has struggled to achieve strong results and has been overshadowed by Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg. The seven-time champion has insisted he is relaxed about his problems, but Todt believes the German is hiding his real emotions.
"I don't think he is so relaxed, but he is a very proud guy and you need to know him very well before he will speak to you and tell you exactly what he feels," Todt told Reuters. "He is protecting himself, which I can understand, but he is a very human, very fragile person, and he's not at all this strong kind of a robot as he was portrayed very often in his career."
Todt reckons it is only natural that Schumacher has found it hard to be competitive again following his absence, and especially with a car that is not capable of winning races.
"He thought very carefully about the opportunity of coming back... However talented you are, if you stop for three years and if you don't drive the best car, it will not be easy – which is the case," he said. "He made the choice to come back. He may decide to stop. Is he putting in all his heart and all his effort? The answer is yes."
But Todt, who was Schumacher's team boss for several years at Ferrari, insists his current issues should not devalue his past achievements.
"What is certain is that he is a seven-time World Champion with 91 wins, and nobody will take that away," Todt said. "The day he decides to stop he will either not have improved on that, or he will have increased those successes, but that will remain on his career résumé. If his teammate is winning grands prix and he is not, probably it will be more difficult. But for him, his team, the sport, and all the people who are supporting him, I hope he is in a position where he is again driving a winning car."