V8 teams eye Schumacher UPDATE Michael Schumacher insists that he is looking forward to a quiet retirement once the 2012 F1 season is over, with no intention to be involved in motorsport despite obvious interest from various quarters.
"For me, there is nothing better than being at home - for me, this means freedom and I want to enjoy that again soon," Schumacher was quoted by Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, "The plan is that there is no plan. I experienced F1 from a different perspective [with Mercedes] and, now, I'm more open and relaxed.
"I used to be different, but I was always under the microscope, so I was always under pressure. I have developed personally [in the last few years], and I'm different now. I've reached out to the people, and had them come closer to me and, in my later life, that is incredibly important. I am going out with my head held high."10/15/12 F1 superstar Michael Schumacher is being targeted by V8 Supercars teams to compete in next year's Gold Coast 600, which features international co-drivers.
Following Schumacher's announcement at last week's Japanese Grand Prix that he will retire from F1 for a second time at the end of this season, V8 teams have been scrambling to make contact with his management.
The Sun-Herald has learnt that the seven-time world champion - the most successful driver in F1 history - is at the top of the list to be the big-name signing for next year's Gold Coast 600, which will be the last in V8 Supercars' current contract with the Queensland Government.
Schumacher, 43, is ending his three-year return to F1 with the Mercedes-Benz team after scoring just one podium placing - a third at this year's European GP in Valencia - and being replaced next year by McLaren's 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Advertisement His retirement, and the likelihood that an ambassadorial role with Mercedes will allow him to make guest appearances in other series, has caused a flurry of interest among several leading V8 teams and V8 Supercars, which promotes the Gold Coast 600 with multi-million dollar state government support.
Since 2010, the revamped event on the Surfers Paradise street circuit - which formerly headlined a round of the American IndyCar series - has had a unique two-race format that paired regular V8 drivers with visiting internationals. But apart from the first year, when former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve took part, the event has failed to attract big names known outside hardcore motor sport fans.
Next weekend's third GC600, run over a pair of 300-kilometre two-driver mini-endurance races, features 28 international co-drivers mainly from European and American sports car racing and the IndyCar open-wheel series. The best-known visitors are former F1 journeyman Nick Heidfeld, Australian IndyCar stars Will Power and Ryan Briscoe, and UK-based David Brabham.
V8 Supercars would back a bid to secure Schumacher, who has previously indicated interest in trying V8 racing once he had quit F1, because the GC600's continued Queensland backing beyond next year depends largely on increased international exposure.
A senior V8 Supercars executive, who declined to be named, confirmed that Schumacher's F1 retirement made him an obvious target, especially as a Mercedes-Benz team will be competing in next year's V8 Supercars championship. ''If he's available, I'm sure he'd be targeted by one of the teams - plus there's the Mercedes connection,'' the V8 official said. ''The chances of him competing at Surfers have only got better, not worse, with AMG [Mercedes-Benz's performance car division] on the grid next year. It will depend on whether he's available and how much he wants.''
Melbourne's Erebus Motorsport, backed by wealthy Sydney-based property developer Betty Klimenko, has formed an alliance with long-time Ford V8 team Stone Brothers Racing and AMG to field three Mercedes-Benzes from next year under the new open-door Car Of The Future rules.
Although not a factory-backed team, with Klimenko funding the operation, including paying for AMG's technical support, Erebus has strong connections with Mercedes.
It is viewed as the most likely to approach Schumacher - winner of an all-time record 91 F1 races as well as the most world titles - because of its arms-length association with the three-pointed star and also because it has the financial resources to meet the German's demand for at least a high six-figure driving fee.
Erebus Motorsport chief executive Ryan Maddison confirmed that while he hadn't yet approached Schumacher about co-driving at next year's GC600, he would be keen to assess his availability.
''We haven't sounded him out, but I definitely raised an eyebrow when the news of his retirement came through,'' Maddison said yesterday. ''I've literally only discussed [international co-drivers for next year's GC600] with SBR this week. All avenues will be explored. We'd definitely be interested in Michael.''
Maddison said Schumacher was one of several high-profile Mercedes-linked drivers ''in the pot'' for consideration, including fellow former F1 race-winners David Coulthard and Michael's younger brother Ralf.
He will ''suss out'' Schumacher's interest and possible availability during a trip to AMG's headquarters outside Stuttgart following next weekend's GC600. smh.com.au