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.
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.