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Schumacher talks comebacks and regrets
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Schumacher talks comebacks and regrets
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Nov 2009   |  10:19 pm GMT  |  57 comments

Shell, in its capacity as a partner of Ferrari stretching back some 450 races, has issued an interesting Q & A with Michael Schumacher in which he talks about comebacks and says that if he had his time again he would do a few things differently; not least avoiding the collision with Jacques Villeneuve in Jerez 1997 which severely damaged his reputation.
Schumacher: "Too old at 41" (Darren Heath)

This week Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has reiterated his desire to see Schumacher race a Ferrari again, should all the new teams, so derided by Ferrari, fail to make it onto the grid and teams be required to field third cars.

“There’s lots of talk about me returning to Formula One, ” says Schumacher. “I was very close obviously this year to replacing Felipe, but whether I’m going to race in the future or not, we will see.

“Driving the 2007 car really felt like driving it – it didn’t take me very long to drive the car on the edge, which was something I enjoyed after being out for so long. It didn’t take me long to feel good and come back.

“I felt I was possibly ready, but obviously there was the neck issue and it emerged that I wasn’t. I regret obviously falling in February (off a motorbike), but sometimes life writes the story and you have to deal with your destiny.

“I still love motorbikes; I haven’t raced one since, but we’ll see what happens in the future. I guess my neck by the end of the year or beginning of next year will be fully fine, but I will be 41 – and that would make me the grandad of F1! I’m not sure I want that.”

The seven times world champion has renewed his agreement as a consultatant at Ferrari and, having declared that he considers Massa to be “like a brother” it will be very interesting to see how he conducts himself around the garage next year with Fernando Alonso challenging Massa for top dog status in the team. Kimi Raikkonen paid no attention to Schumacher’s advice, Alonso is likely to play things differently.

Meanwhile Schumacher has again reiterated that the greatest regret of his career is the deliberate collision with Jacques Villeneuve in Jerez 1997, which cost him the world championship and his reputation,

“I have some moments that if I could have them again, yes I would do them differently – probably 1997 in Jerez, ” he said. “I would have had a couple of opportunities to avoid all this and still win the championship, but you take your lessons and you learn from them.”

I remember that race as it it were yesterday, although that may have something to do with having written two books on Schumacher, one of which was specifically to do with this race and its aftermath.

Schumacher panicked when Villeneuve made his lunge down the inside of him at Dry Sack corner, shortly after both had made their final pit stops of the race. Villeneuve knew he had to take advantage of the fresh Goodyear tyres to attack Schumacher and he went for it. Schumacher tried to drive him off the road and instead put himself out of the race.

Schumacher has said before, in the second book I wrote about him, that this is the one thing he would do differently. Although he stonewalled it immediately after the race, di Montezemolo made him realise that he had done something really bad, “If there is one thing I could do over again in F1 it would be that race in Jerez, ” he said.

Speaking of books, I’m very excited because my new book looking back on the 2009 season is being printed as we speak. It will be available on November 27th but you can pre-order it by clicking on the tab on the right of the home page.

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57 Comments
  1. Red Andy says:

    James, some time after Jerez 1997 it was reported that Schumacher was having trouble during the race with oil pressures, and perhaps knew that he wouldn’t be able to make the finish. That could have influenced his decision to make his rash move on Villeneuve. Do you know if there is any truth to this?

    1. James Allen says:

      No. Ross Brawn told me he was taking it easy because they had had problems with blistering the tyres by pushing too hard in the early part of the stints. He took it too easy in this case. This is what he meant by other opportunities to win it, because they believed that Villenueve would would have destroyed his tyres with the pace he sat at the start of the stint, so Michael would have had a chance later in the stint.

  2. Simon jones says:

    Hi James, I wanted to ask – what is the best book written about Schumacher?

    1. James Allen says:

      I couldn’t possibly say!

      1. Suzy says:

        I have to say I quite liked “The edge of greatness” by you, James. I can say that. ;)

      2. Suzy says:

        Plus I liked “The life of the new Formula One World Champion” by Timothy Collings but that only covers the first two titles of Michael. But it was very infotmative about his way to F1 and his first years in the sport.

      3. M.Fitri says:

        Yeah, The Edge of Greatness.. Really sum up Schumacher as a person/racer/human being.. and how hungry he is!!!

  3. tomacintosh says:

    Interesting article, seems Schumie is eager to get back. I’m not sure if I’d agree with the 3 cars per manufacturer though, I think it would cause too much unrest in the teams. Can you imagine having Alonso, Schumie and Massa all vying for the title? No mention of the move Michael made on Hill either, very similar to the Villeneuve incident.

  4. Rose says:

    I don’t think Schumacher will ever come back, the window of opportunity has passed I think.

    James, I’ve just tried emailing you at the editor account but keep on getting delivery failure messages. Just thought I’d let you know.

    1. James Allen says:

      People have been getting through. I”ll add it to the webmaster’s To Do list!

      1. Ben G says:

        While you’re at it, there seems to be a problem updating the page when viewing from Google Chrome.

      2. Silas Denyer says:

        Re the website issue: if I click on the “F1 News” tag on the site using Chrome then I get the full list of articles; just refreshing the front page leaves it stuck with the Alonso settling-in article as the most recent available (the “latest stories” list is similarly stuck in the past). Multiple refreshes make no difference.

        I have no such problem using IE8. I also have no such problem if I use an “incognito window” in Chrome. Is this some strange cookie issue? Is the back-end trying, for instance, to work out what the browser’s date is to work out which articles to show? I’m afraid I’m not a WordPress expert, so I can’t suggest anything further to investigate here.

      3. monktonnik says:

        I am having the same problem with firefox, IE and safari on the Iphone.

  5. Flavio Maciel says:

    Hi James,
    I would include the 94 incident with Hill on the list as well, same idea different result.
    Hopefully we will see you back on TV again soon. (we get the BBC feed here in Canada).

    Cheers.

    1. Jeremy says:

      how are you picking this up? which part of Canada?

      1. Flavio says:

        Our Local sport station (TSN-Toronto). We used to have ITV but since BBC got the rights they switched to BBC.

      2. GP says:

        It’s on TSN

  6. Bog says:

    Hi Allen
    Can you please elaborate on the following:
    “Kimi Raikkonen paid no attention to Schumacher’s advice, Alonso is likely to play things differently”

    1. James Allen says:

      Knowing him I don’t see him doing things the same way as Kimi did. How he will deal with the Schumacher/Mass axis, I’m sure he’s thinking about as we speak

      1. Pay The Piper says:

        He’s a fast enough driver, but are we all certain that he has the neccessary political nouse to break up such an axis? He’ll certainly need to play it a whole lot different than his last attempt.

        If we see him and his entourage scuttling back to the Renault motorhome at any point this year, hang on to your hat Luca, trouble brewing lad.

  7. haha says:

    Wait…hang on….you are writing a book?

    You never mentioned this before :P

    Just a tease :D

  8. Buck says:

    Surely others will echo this statement: does Schumacher truly regret his deliberate collision with Villeneuve, or does he simply regret getting caught red-handed and the loss of a title plus the subsequent life-time penalty assessed to his reputation by fans worldwide?

    Because any parole officer will tell you that remorse and taking responsibility for one’s own actions and how it affects others is worlds away from what seems to be remorse but is really merely regret for the punishments of one’s actions and what it does to them personally and professionally.

    James, maybe as an insider you know far better but for us fans watching from the cheap seats, witnessing Schumi do anything to win was often ugly. (Cripes, even his fellow Germans had a nickname for him that translated loosely as “cheater”).

    1. Dean says:

      I picked up on that as well. He has no remorse…otherwise he would have regretted the incident with Hill as well…He only feels regret about Jerez because it didn’t work!

    2. Sam says:

      Well, apparently he does.
      According to JA’s book, it took him a long time for him to realize it was wrong. He always thought that it took balls to do something like that and that’s what define a great driver. He grew up watching Senna crashing into Prost and his behaviour was largely influnced by Senna.

      He never understands why people look at Senna aftre doing that where as, in his case, he was seen as a villian.

      As time move on, in this err, fans’ perception changes but it took him longer to understand where the line should be drawn.

      1. Dean says:

        That’s because Senna would at least give the other driver the heads up…He told Prost before the race that he was going to crash into him! (not to mention the previous history between them).

      2. Sam says:

        It doesn’t matter if he did a little differently or exactly the same as Senna did (which is impossible) people will try to find a way to condemn him, not Senna.

        If Senna crashes into someone, it’s ok.
        If Michael Ownen dives for a penalty kick, it’s ok.
        If Schumacher does something like that it’s not ok.
        Its funny because we live in a town call hypocrisy where people are talking about fairness, yet they fail to recognize that they are not acting too fairly.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think crashing into someone is just wrong, no matter what. Both should be remembered that way, equally.

  9. Jackie says:

    Hi James,

    Why do you think Schumacher regrets colliding with Villeneuve in 97 and yet doesn’t mention the incident with Hill in 94? To me that shows a great lack of respect for Damon Hill.

    Ps Am looking forward to seeing you again at the British Grand Prix (if there is one) and do still want to know you, even if you aren’t famous anymore! :o)

  10. raffamuffin says:

    James, any news on the Kimi – McLaren rumours? I read on ITV-F1 that Kimi attended the McLaren factory this week.

    1. James Allen says:

      No, I’m keeping my powder dry on that until I get something definitive

  11. Alex says:

    Look forward to seeing your review of the 2009 season James.

    As a hige Kimi fan I particularly liked your comment about him not taking Schumi’s advice whilst at Ferrari. This is the reason I like Kimi, and I remember him being given the phone by Jean Todt at Oz 2007, only for him to disconnect and hand it back to Todt! Do you think his “I’m my own Man” attitude was one of the contributing factors in Ferrari letting him go?

    1. Med says:

      I still chuckle at the thought of when Martin interviewed Kimi on his gridwalk and asked him why he missed some presentation for Schumi, to which Kimi replied “I was in the toilet”, except less politely

    2. Suzy says:

      I can’t see why hanging up when somebody is congratulating you is so “cool”. I find it rather rude and a childish way of playing “cool”. If you are self-confident you don’t need that.

      1. rossetto says:

        It was not Michael Shumacher presentation. But it was Pele’.
        It was definitively lack of good taste on Kimi part, to say the least.

  12. Paul Mc says:

    Looking forward to the new book James, any chance of a blog competition to win a copy?…preferably where i win?? :))

    1. James Allen says:

      Yep, there is one coming up very soon.

  13. Dom says:

    I’m suprised he didn’t mention taking out Hill deliberately in order to win the championship. I think that was far more shameful than the incedent with Villeneuve.

  14. grunge says:

    hey allen

    could u elaborate on the massa-shumi ”axis” further plz :-)

  15. Jed says:

    Hi James, your blog has problems with the google chrome browser. Until today, if i use google chrome i can only see the post of Alonso visiting ferrari, no matter how many times i refresh it. I found it strange that your blog was never updated so i tried mozzila firefox and found out that there are already several new posts. This problem is relatively new as i have been using google chrome for a longtime now. Just FYI.

    1. Buck says:

      I have the same problem with Google Chrome. I would have to use Internet Explorer to see the latest entries but after posting a comment using Internet Explorer last night the same problem appeared in IE as well. Perhaps posting comments is somehow affecting how a browser links back to the site in the future.

      Or maybe James is just punishing us for making comments he doesn’t like or agree with. haha :P

      1. James Allen says:

        You got it! Censorship! Ha! In all seriousness, we do seem to have a problem with a comment plugin, so that may be playing a part in this. Hope to get it all running smoothly soon. Thanks for your patience!

    2. Bog says:

      Hi Jed
      I’m using Google Chrome and have no issue at all. Make sure you’re using the last version of Chrome (click on the spanner icon on the top right corner, then go to About.. by which point Chrome will check and update itself if needed)

  16. gazzap says:

    How odd that he doesn’t regret the move on Hill where he won the title, but does regret a similar move where he lost the title. what a surprise.

    1. Sam says:

      Well, that case was a bit different. Some people, the fans, think it was delibrate where as others think he closed the door too late.

      Even Damon, himself didn’t claim he tried to take him out.

      Some said Damon should have waited untill the next corner instead of diving in, because it was Schumi’s racing line and any self-respected driver would try to retake that line.

  17. A. N. Other says:

    Schumacher exhibited unsportsmanlike conduct on too many occasions.

    He is an example of the “win at any price” philosophy which has ruined other sports such as cycling.

    I for one am well beyond bored with hearing about Schumacher. He will never be a winner
    again in F1, and if we can’t discuss anything else then perhaps some empty white space would be a good choice.

  18. George says:

    Typical he only regrets the manoeuvre he got punished for, oh well.

  19. Monktonnik says:

    1 on that.

    Looking forward to receiving the signed copy of the 2009 review

  20. Snowy says:

    As others have said, it’s interesting that Schumacher regrets his collision with Villeneuve where he LOST the championship and got caught but not where he did the very same thing to Hill, but did WIN the championship and didn’t get caught.

    As he said in this interview, “you take your lessons and you learn from them.” It seems that all he really learnt from these cases was that you can run into someone (cheat) and win.

    For that he’ll never rank in the same league as Fangio, Clark, Brabham, Stewart, Prost etc as a true great, despite all his achievements.

  21. PaulL says:

    James, I’m not sure about Ross Brawn’s comment about Schumacher nursing the tyres. For instance in the first two stints Schumacher was easily lapping in the 1:24s and didn’t suffer too much tyre degredation, and then in two laps after the second stops he lapped at 1:25.6 and 1:25.9. That strikes me as odd.

    1. James Allen says:

      Read the Edge of Greatness, it’s all in there

  22. Suzy says:

    I don’t think there is a Schumacher-Massa “axis”. They are friends and Schumacher can help him and Felipe can take his advice when needed, but there is no “axis”. Especially not against Alonso. I mean who do you think, James, has more influence at Ferrari: Schumacher or Santander who gives the money?

    1. James Allen says:

      You are right to speak about influence because that will be very important. As with any new driver pairing it is about which driver can get the team to follow him and take his lead. Schumacher and Santander are incidental to this, but part of the jigsaw nevertheless.

  23. KenN0898 says:

    I wouldn’t like to see MS return to F1. Hopefully the days of manufacured F1 WDC drivers are over. Michael Schumacher was probably the most “win at any cost” driver ever as was demonstrated in Adeliade where he put Hill out of the race, and by doing so stole the WDC from him,…and again in Austria in 2002 when his team mate, who was leading the race, virtually brought his car to a stop on the finish line to allow MS to take the win because he was ordered to do so. Yes, MS has been credited with 7 WDCs but IMHO they certainly weren’t all won on merit.

    1. Glen says:

      I think he won on merit. He completely dominated and destroyed his competition. During his years I think most drivers gave up trying to beat him until Alonso gained the upper hand. He probably respects Hill more than Villeneuve.

  24. Jasper says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I have very fond memories of the 1997 season, and the great battle between Schumacher and Villeneuve. I think it was a great shame that the two of them didn’t battle it out on any other occasions for the World Title.

    Am I right that Villeneuve was the only driver to go into a final race World Title showdown trailing Schumacher on points and coming through to win?

  25. Eric says:

    A lot of you have expressed frustration at the fact that Schumacher cites Jerez, and not Adelaide, as his biggest regret.

    I’m also betting most of you are British. Not trying to pick a fight here, but, there’s more than enough evidence to suggest that the Hill incident was simply a racing incident.

    Maybe Schumacher doesn’t cite it as a regret because he didn’t intentionally ram Hill? And one that makes sense, considering that he has essentially admitted that Jerez was intentional, but has never done the same for Adelaide.

    1. KenN0898 says:

      There is no need to be British see that Schumacher’s driving ethics were seriously lacking in Adelaide when he took Hill out of the race,….and of course Schumacher wouldn’t express regret for what happened because his action had won him the WDC instead of Damon Hill so to express regrets would be to admit that he had won the championship unfairly.

      The situation was Schumacher had 92 points and Hill was on 91 which meant that either could take the championship by finishing in front of the other. Schumacher’s action not only put himself out but also ended the race for hill,…neither driver scored points which means Schumacher “won” the WDC.

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