Q and A with Michael Schumacher
The Ferrari F1 drivers along with seven-time world champion and Ferrari test driver Michael Schumacher, made their annual winter trek to the mountains of Italy in the town of Madonna di Campiglio to spend a couple of days talking to the media about the upcoming season.
Q. What do you think of the new car?
Michael Schumacher: I have a positive feeling. It looks good but how good we will see after the first two or three races.
Q. Will you test again?
MS: It's possible, if they need me, but there's no schedule. Probably helpful for the team to have me around and to have a third opinion about what's going on. So if the team wants me, and it's not too much, then I'm happy to do this. Test driving is not part of the agreement but because of the rule changes, they asked me for at third opinion.
Q. It could be before the start of the championship?
MS: I don't know yet. We will see. But it's probably more likely and makes more sense to have maybe before the championship starts rather than during the championship.
Q. What is your role within the team?
MS: I'm a consultant. I help develop the road cars which is a lot of fun, and obviously advise the Formula One team.
Q. Do you attend technical briefings?
MS: Yes, I have to be there and from time to time to translate the results. From time to time, me and the team need to come together. I feel I have good input to better understand what the drivers are saying.
Q. Do you find it hard to follow Grands Prix on TV?
MS: I'm not there as a driver. Driving was a lot of fun but I didn't need all the rest. I get all the data live at home, and I am also able to listen to t he radio communications.
Q. What do you feel about Stefano Domenicali becoming team principal?
MS: He has been there since I joined Ferrari, so he knows all about the team and has good ideas. It was a good decision (to appoint him) but Jean is still in the background. It's good to have a breath of fresh air.
Q. Have you plans to go to any of the races this year?
MS: I will come to some of the races yes, mainly European races, the first European one, for instance. It's not fun to go to the first race. I have been travelling for many years and I don't need to go to Australia. Now I don't like to travel too much.
MS: No, I have not Shanghai in my program.
Q. Your brother's career seems to have come to an end six and a half years before yours. Would you advise him to take up the offer of DTM?
MS: No. I would not advise him to take up this offer. I don't believe we are gifted enough to drive with success in DTM. I know I am not. I tried it once. If you take enough time, then maybe you could be successful, but most Formula One drivers haven't had much success. It's very difficult for a driver in this series to have to have the time to develop the cars.
Q. Will you do another test on the 'bike?
MS: I will continue to enjoy the bike, yes. Whether I will do another test with Ducati I don't know, but I will do many other things on the bike this year.
Q. A couple of Australian questions: first of all, Albert Park, Ferrari have always seemed to have done well there; do you think it's going to be a good opening race for them?
MS: Why not? Statistically we have been very strong there, this is correct, but I usually struggle to take statistics from one year to another because it will change quite easily due to many factors and so if you've been very good last year, it doesn't mean that you will specifically be good there this year.
Q. And what do you think about Casey Stoner's skiing?
(L to R) Kimi Raikkonen, MotoGP champion Casey Stoner, and Felipe Massa
MS: I think it's his first time on skis here, so I was well impressed on that . He's doing good.
Q. And your first run today, did you miss a gate?
MS: No. It was a genuine first run, don't you think I am capable of this? The ski teacher was quicker, my ski teacher was a tenth quicker. But he did it when the conditions were worse. I probably had good conditions. I had a good run. I fell on my second, that's why it was worse.
Q. You have avoided the danger of becoming a team manager, but are you going to give some advice to Stefano Domenicali?
MS: That's what I'm there for! I am a consultant for Ferrari so any advice they want to have from me and that I can give and is valid I will give, certainly whether it's with the team, whether it's with Stefano although Stefano is very capable and he has a lot of experience on the side of Jean (Todt), so I don't know if he really needs my advice. We will see. We are all friends, it's not that I have to advise somebody in this sense but it is that we will talk about all subjects and then we'll exchange our views.
Q. If one of the official drivers is unable to drive, may we see Michael Schumacher driving again?
MS: No, not possible.
Q. Michael, after the season that Lewis Hamilton had last year, who do you see in as strong a position this year? Lewis or Kimi?
MS: Felipe and Kimi! Honestly, we have two very strong drivers. If you look at the year, you have to say that Felipe in the end was a little bit more unfortunate, he had a little bit less luck over the whole year, otherwise he was very competitive, from the beginning to the end and you have, as every driver has, moments when you are very strong and then maybe a moment that you have a little problem, but in general they have both been very strong.
Q. How do you see the championship this year?
MS: I would expect to see a very close fight between the two main teams but then I would see Renault and BMW able to close the gap and may enter into the top two.
Q. Do you think the changes in Ferrari can affect the team?
MS: You know all the changes that have happened in the end have kept the group strong because at the base itself, you talk about almost 1000 people, we have a very good communication and relationship.
It's a big family and probably that's one of the strengths on top of other teams, as far as I can judge from the outside. I'm not working in the other teams so I can only judge what happens with us.
So changing positions as we have had in the past and as we now see this year, I don't think they will weaken Ferrari, if anything they will improve the situation, because even on Stefano's side, he's very experienced beside Jean over all the years.
On top of that, he will have Jean on his side t o support him any moment he needs. The organization change was done to improve the situation, not to make it worse.
Q. What do you think about Ross Brawn going to Honda? How long do you think it will take Honda to become a real opponent?
MS: I think Ross is the perfect man to make Honda come back in the right direction, because he's very capable, he knows what it needs, but it will take time.