Michael Schumacher Q&A

The reigning world champion's first official Ferrari duty of 2003 is at Madonna di Campiglio this week. He skied in a torchlight procession last night (Wednesday) while the sport's governing body, the FIA, was making its radical proposals for the future known to the world. During a press conference, Schumacher gave his response to the changes

Michael Schumacher Q&A

Actually, I started in non-sophisticated cars, then we had the time of development with very sophisticated cars, with active suspension, with traction control and almost fully automatic cars in '93. Then we came back in '94, we stayed with those sort of rules for quite a while before we came back to all the electronics. Driving-wise it is simply a different target that you have because when you have no driver aids, you have to take all the compromises and deal with them yourself.

If you have all the electronic possibilities, then you optimise your car much more and it is a sort of challenge in the technical direction together with the engineers to get everything to the maximum. There is simply a different challenge which for me, I preferred the one where you have all the technical possibilities because I don't like to take compromises in the race car, I like to make the race car as fast as possible and all the electronics have helped that. Obviously, that's the same for everyone and if they change it, then again it's the same for everyone out there with the other systems before, so I deal with them as they come.

Whatever you want to do on the limit, at the high peak, it is not really a big difference, in all honesty. It is very complicated to set up the car in a way that it is perfect and then to drive it that way. Although it maybe doesn't look any more difficult but you are simply able to drive much finer on the limit, and more consistently on the limit with all the driver aids than without, which doesn't give the impression outside. The point of difficulty doesn't really change very much from my point of view. It will change for some young drivers who seem to get on very easily with Formula 1 at the moment, to a certain speed.

Personally, I believe that F1 has to adjust itself to changing scenarios and changing times, because other sports have to change and so does the economic scenario. We know that from a financial point of view many teams have problems. As far is the future is concerned, I understand that we have to come to terms with this. Perhaps F1 is going to become more accessible for other teams than it is at the moment, because we know that today huge expenses are involved in the development of an F1 car and for many small teams it is impossible for them to enter into this competition.

If you think about the future, many things are going to depend on what changes are being decided on today. Of course, not everyone is going to be satisfied because there will be one winner and many want to win always but this is not going to be possible. But I think it is necessary that these things are tackled for the future and that other manufacturers can enter F1. Personally, I believe that this may be something positive for F1 itself. Everything can be implemented in the short term, but many of these things cannot be implemented today.

You've basically picked on one point. I'm pretty sure that all of the points that have been discussed, you have some arguments against and [some] in favour. You can turn it however you like and I'm pretty sure that what you are going to do in the next few days is to take each point and view it from various positions but to some degree, yes, you're right. If you don't have radio communication then if there is an oil problem in a certain corner, if there is an accident in a certain corner, if there is a rain situation, mixed on half the circuit to another place, then on the radio side you can communicate and you can discuss it. If you don't have the radio, you cannot.

Obviously it's a matter for the teams to quantify this, because I am not sitting in this committee to hear and discuss all the matters. I'm only involved in the decision at the end. I got to hear these decisions like you very late last night and the feeling, as I've said before, is that maybe a little bit short notice to apply certain rules. The teams, in the end, have to see whether they can deal with it or not, it's not for me. I race the car and for me, as I said, it doesn't make a huge difference because I race with whatever I have as long as everyone is racing to the same rules.

As long as it doesn't concern safety, and as long as the sport doesn't become more dangerous, then honestly I don't have a problem with the way things are going. If you see the communication with the FIA, it has improved tremendously because we have the safety group meeting, and I have, from my point of view, some input in all the safety measures and that's what I am happy about. Concerning the politics, I have always said I am not a politician, I don't want to become one, I don't want to become a team owner, I don't want to get involved in that. I feel I want to race and I feel that, in particular, Jean Todt is the right person to deal with those matters. I have always trusted him and he always tries to achieve the best in our interest and I believe he has been quite successfully so far.

Basically, what I'm doing like everyone else is following what's going on at a distance so I see the end result, lap times, but I'm not involved in all the detailed lap times, how they happen, at what time of day, what consistency in running, so it's a little bit difficult for me to judge properly. I can only say that, in my view, it's going to be McLaren and Williams who are going to be strong opponents but everyone knows that, so I'm probably unsuccessful to give you any precise and correct news on what's going on.

I'm starting testing on the 21st [of January] and then I shall probably have some contact with the other teams, and then I will be able to judge a little bit better what has changed over the winter time. But one thing I'm pretty sure of is that the competition will become tighter, for the simple fact that we have pretty much maximised our possibilities and other teams obviously have not, so for them, it's easier to make bigger steps than it is for us. I'm pretty sure that this season is going to become a lot tighter between the three main teams. Who is going to be the first one? I hope it's us and I think we still can be, but who is going to be the second one, that's a little bit open.

Qualifying, yes, it's going to be interesting and that's going to be change a little bit. For sure the approach, how you deal with the preparations towards qualifying and during qualifying, I'm pretty sure during the season one time or another, we will see some top cars which normally may be in the first row won't be there because maybe one day you make a mistake, you have only one lap available and that means you end up in the position it comes out, so that's going to be a little bit more exciting. I look forward to this, honestly, because usually I feel I have always a good approach to the very first time I got out for qualifying, so I feel that it suits me quite well. Let's hope it turns out to be [that way].

And secondly, because there is one rain tyre, in the end you go for the one which is the fastest, but in certain rain conditions that could be a problem.

If we still have the advantage we had last year, yes, that will be [the case]. As I said before, I don't think that is the case but still, if we can have any advantage, even though it's little, then Rubens should be the one who is going to be the most dangerous because he has improved his game quite a lot, I rate him very highly and he's going to be a big threat to me. That's what we're doing it for.

That's the view that you have right now because we have been sort of leading the championship from the beginning and winning it very early. But I think it may be a couple of years, or in some years, who knows, it will change and another team might be in our position then it will be that team. Currently it looks like it is against us, but I don't think it is against anyone, it is simply in favour of the smaller teams even for them to score points in eighth position. I feel pretty happy with this. All the other changes, I don't see that everything has really been done against Ferrari. It has simply been done to improve the show for the future.

Schumacher questions timing of changes

Previous article

Schumacher questions timing of changes

Next article

Schumacher Expecting Tougher Competition

Schumacher Expecting Tougher Competition
Load comments
The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers Plus

The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers

Michael Schumacher is the latest sporting superstar to get the ‘Netflix treatment’, with a special documentary film airing on the US streaming giant’s platform this month. DAMIEN SMITH has the inside track on how the filmmakers gained access to tell the human story behind one of Formula 1’s most publicity-shy champions - while the man himself, for obvious reasons, is in absentia… 

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery Plus

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery

For the second race in a row, Mercedes has ended the first day of track action on top. It’s in a commanding position at the Russian Grand Prix once again – this time largely thanks to Max Verstappen’s upcoming engine-change grid penalty. But there’s plenty to suggest all hope is not lost for the championship leader at Sochi

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2021
The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1 Plus

The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1

OPINION: With its days apparently numbered, the MGU-H looks set to be dropped from Formula 1’s future engine rules in order to entice new manufacturers in. While it may appear a change of direction, the benefits for teams and fans could make the decision a worthwhile call

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2021
The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Plus

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. DAMIEN SMITH brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Plus

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus Plus

How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Plus

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Plus

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021