Schu struggle affecting merchandising, sponsorship
(GMM) Michael Schumacher's long time manager has admitted the hype of the German's return to formula one this year has not matched his expectations.
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Sabine Kehm has taken over as the Mercedes driver's general manager, but Willi Weber is still in charge of Schumacher's personal sponsorship and merchandising.
But the 68-year-old admitted that, just as Schumacher has not performed to the level of his initial career, the sale of official merchandise has also been slow.
"Sales are not how I expected them to be," Weber told Germany's Bild-Zeitung daily. "There is a certain Schumi-tiredness. The people are saying: my god, where is he driving? You only know him as a winner.
"In the past the tribunes were full of Ferrari caps. Now I can count the silver caps with one hand," he added.
Weber admits that Sebastian Vettel - originally dubbed 'Baby-Schumi' by the German media - is now carrying the baton as the country's favorite.
"Wherever I look, Vettel is the new Schumi, he is the number one in the TV ads and on the billboards. Michael has left a void and Sebastian has grown into it, because he has the success and Michael doesn't have it yet," said Weber.
As for sponsorship, Weber admits it is a similarly slow story, but acknowledged that the entire F1 world is also struggling.
"It is easier to find a 50-year-old virgin than a sponsor for formula one," he said.