Q & A with Michael Schumacher

Formula One may have been through its first season since Michael Schumacher retired, but that has not stopped the seven-time world champion from showing just what he is capable of in F1 cars

Q & A with Michael Schumacher

With Schumacher having joined Ferrari for a second test at Jerez this week, autosport.com was there to hear what he said about his latest experience behind the wheel, his future plans, and what he thinks brother Ralf should do.

Q: What kind of work are you up to here?

Michael Schumacher: "Like in Barcelona, we are preparing for 2008. On the electronics, we are finding out all the solutions and strategies, plus the possibilities on the set up.

"We have done lots of work, and understood lots of things. We also did some slicks work for 2009. We started yesterday and we are carrying on."

Q: Do you like testing work?

Schumacher: "I like driving. Work? I don't treat it like that."

Q: Without traction control, and with slicks coming back, what kind of show will we see?

Schumacher: "Clearly I feel more grip from the slicks, but aerodynamics-wise it loses a lot. It does not mean necessarily that we can get closer to the cars in front, but we are not quite sure on that, which is why we are working on it to see."

Q: Will you test the new car?

Schumacher: "It was not planned to do this test. It was just Barcelona originally, but here I am. There are no plans for next year. Although as soon as the new car is ready it has to be the (race) drivers doing the test, unless there is a particular reason to test certain things."

Q: And if Bridgestone asks you to help development...

Schumacher: "Yes, it is possible. If there are specific issues for the team's interest, then maybe."

Q: Is there any aspect of Grand Prix racing you missed?

Schumacher: "You know, I have been a long time in the sport and I love the sport. I still like thing, like now just driving the car. It is a great pleasure if you don't have further responsibility, pressures for the season and so on. It is the sheer driving that I enjoy. I am enjoying it, which is quite nice."

Q: What is your impression of the slick tyres?

Schumacher: "I have heard a lot of interpretations of the slicks in the future and how they compare to the grooves. They have more grip, and that's it. You don't really change your driving style, although there are little changes every year.

"I have heard comments from certain drivers that they are much happier to have the slicks because they can develop their skills, but I don't see that."

Q: There is a Fiat television advertisement where you say to Kimi: "This is how a pensioner drives...." Is that how it is?

Schumacher: "In circles, yes! It is just fun to drive without having to worry about further responsibilities. There is no obligation and nothing about the future or even next year. Like this test, I just enjoy the driving.

"Of course I have to analyse things, to see what I am able to help the team with. But that is what I am here for.

Q: You drove without traction control for a long time too, so what really is the purpose of the test here? Do you teach others how to drive?

Schumacher: "Forget about this teaching part. For sure, they know exactly how to drive. My job is to bring in other perspectives, other opinions and give new directions.

"From my experience, my perspectives may be broader. That means we may be able to reach the aim much quicker, and the team think I am useful."

Q: What do you mean, really?

Schumacher: "A lot of things are being taken away (from an F1 car), but there are a lot of parameters in the environment of the car that you can change.

"And it is different directions I may be able to give, to reach the aim faster. Once we get the general base, we will then be able to work on fine-tuning on the track."

Q: So really, there is no possibility of you coming back to F1 racing?

Schumacher: "No, definitely not. Even if I test and help the team in a hundred different places of development, there is no pressure or stress. If I think of racing, all that (stress) comes back. So it's just nice to drive some laps, step out and just enjoy it."

Q: So is it just simply a case of calling Ferrari and asking if you can drive?

Schumacher: "It's not like that. It needs to make sense for the team to make me drive. You cannot forget that now the testing kilometres are restricted and the tyres are limited, so you cannot just waste them for pleasure. It must make sense for the team."

Q: Last night Ralf Schumacher said: "I am leaving now and I might not come back." Is that a possibility?

Schumacher: "I don't know all his options, but before he drives like he did yesterday it is better to think about if it makes sense to drive knowing you can only come last. I think there are more reasonable, safer, wealthier and nicer options for him.

"I told him personally that there are so many nice things outside of F1. But I don't know all his options. There are other cockpits which are not taken, so he might see other options."

Q: Have you had a chance to discuss with Ralf what his other options are?

Schumacher: "Not yet. He has not gone that far. But just as much that I have interests, he has other interests too."

Q: Would you prefer him to come back?

Schumacher: "Of course, both of us made a name in Formula One. Both of us had fans who were attracted to F1, and if he can get a good result then he should. He is able to bring good results and he is motivated to do so.

"But it is different for me. I would not be so motivated to race, and if it doesn't fit then maybe he should stop and have a break. He is young enough to stop, re-evaluate the situation and come back.

"I have to say my experience in coming back in Barcelona showed I did not have trouble coming back. I did not lose a bit, so he can do it too."

Q: Are you sure you are not coming back?

Schumacher: "There is not even a rumour! I have no intention of it, definitely not."

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher
Author Jonathan Noble
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