F1

Schumacher is truly Ferrari's "super assistant"

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Schumacher is truly Ferrari's

Michael Schumacher had been given the title of "super assistant" for the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team, but it has now been revealed as a role that is likely to involve testing and development of the F2008 car. Michael ...

Michael Schumacher had been given the title of "super assistant" for the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team, but it has now been revealed as a role that is likely to involve testing and development of the F2008 car.

Michael Schumacher.
Photo by Ferrari Media Center.
The 39-year-old German has actually started the testing, having been behind the wheel for the tests at the end of last year. There are, at this time, no more test sessions planned for Schumacher but it looks likely he will be involved.

When asked at the Ferrari press ski event about more testing, Schumacher remarked: "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."

Schumacher, after his retirement in 2006, was still employed by the Scuderia Ferrari team in 2007 in his new position of Team Advisor and attended a number of the races last year as a consultant. It does look like his role will be more hands-on this year.

"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 a third opinion," he said.

He hints that he could be back in the car soon, and when asked when the testing would be, he commented, "It's probably more likely and makes more sense to have it maybe before the championship starts rather than during the championship."

This has to bode well for Ferrari's chances this year in defence of their constructors' championship, having the experience of the seven-time world champion Schumacher to help fine-tune the F2008 car.

McLaren, in contrast, are missing the experience of Fernando Alonso, instead opting for two young and relatively inexperienced drivers. However, let's not forget Pedro de la Rosa, who is no stranger to the team, having been at McLaren since 2003.

He has been the team's test driver for all 5 years and completed nine Grands Prix for McLaren whilst standing in for Juan Pablo Montoya, even managing a second place in Hungary 2006.

Schumacher did lay to rest recent rumours by confirming that he would not be racing for the F1 team at any point in the year even if Kimi Raikkonen or Felipe Massa were unable to race, "No, not possible" he said.

He will still be busy though, his other duties at Ferrari include development work on the company's road cars. Schumacher will still be very much around F1 throughout the year. "I will come to some of the races yes, mainly European races, the first European one, for instance," he said.

Schumacher is cautiously optimistic about the team's chances and when asked whether the team will do well in the first race at Albert Park kin Australia he commented: "Statistically we have been very strong there, this is correct, but I usually struggle to take statistics from one year to another."

The team and, indeed, Schumacher are obviously playing their cards close to their chest as usual and he continued, "if you've been very good last year, it doesn't mean that you will specifically be good there this year."

This does seem very cautious for a team that did so well last year though. Interestingly the German will not actually be at the first race in person. "It's not fun to go to the first race. I have been traveling for many years and I don't need to go to Australia," he admitted.

Instead, he will be following the action closely though as the German get all the data live at home and can listen to the radio communications.

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