Schumacher still loves horses, driver rivalry - what else is new, Ecclestone and his girlfriend.
Schumacher still loves horses
Although Michael Schumacher has left the famous Italian prancing horse stable in 2006, he and his wife Corinna still love horses. The German couple lives in Switzerland and is the proud owner of the CS (Corinna Schumacher) Ranch, located at the Westside of Lake Geneva, without a doubt one of the most beautiful lakes of Switzerland. The CS Ranch specializes in reining horses, the facility has a 95 by 45 meters roofed horse riding arena and can accommodate 1400 guests. The CS Ranch hosts international reining events, and has over the years build up quite a reputation. Once a year it is the home of the SVAG CS Classic International Reining Show, and the European Championship, a seven-day event with 250 horses competing from all over Europe.
Reining is a western riding competition for horses, riders take the horses through a pattern of circles, spins, rundowns and sliding stops. The sport is very popular in the US, but in Europe it is still in its infancy. This year's CS Classic had a special feature: the VIP Celebrity Reining. The Schumachers had invited Formula One commentators Lee McKenzie (BBC Great Britain), Frauke Lodewig (RTL Germany), Stella Bruno (RAI Italy), Allard Kallf (RTL7 Netherlands) and Ernst Hausleitner (ORF Austria) to compete together with Michael Schumacher in the event. Schumacher about the competitors, "Nobody in the pen in this fun event was an expert. We all had great fun and this was a perfect way to see how much work is involved in preparing and showing the horses in this sport."
McKenzie rode Lightning Quik Chic, but she did have some experience with horses, "I had horses when I was little and my family still are involved but I am sadly too busy, so this was the first time I had ridden at any decent standard for about 10 years." Kallf also had some experience, but confessed he was still a teenager since he last had rode a horse. "Okay, I didn't win, but it was a super cool event. I already have an invitation for next year, and I'll be back...", the Dutchman told. And the result of the VIP event? Lodewig won with 213.4 points, McKenzie and Schumacher shared second place with 210 points, fourth place was for Kallf with 209.5 points, and Bruno and Hausleitner became fifth and sixth with 202 and 186.5 points respectively.
And last but not least, Corinna Schumacher won the European title in the limited non pro championship on her horse Nimble Star Wars, and her husband was very proud he could add yet another title to the tally of the Schumacher family.
Driver rivalry - what else is new
The 2010 Formula One season certainly is the season of stormy relations between team colleagues, the relation between Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel reached its boiling point last weekend after the team decided to take the newly developed front wing of Webber's car and simply bolted it on Vettel's car to replace the one Vettel had damaged during free practice. Webber was furious and even said he regretted signing a new one- year contract with the Red Bull team. Webber did the only thing he could do, he won the British Grand Prix, left the competition including Vettel miles behind him, and during a moment of sweet revenge couldn't help himself shouting over the radio when he crossed the finish line: "Not bad for a number two driver!"
Earlier this year Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton also had some problems, and at Ferrari (although they deny it) there is also something going on. Fernando Alonso overtook Felipe Massa in the pit lane entrance in China and almost pushed him into the gravel trap, and last weekend Alonso hit Massa from behind and punctured his rear tyre when he didn't get out of his way fast enough, and the pair is rarely seen talking to each other. Rivalry between team mates is as old as the sport itself, and in some cases it resulted in a complete on and off track declaration of war.
In 1981 Williams drivers Carlos Reutemann and Alan Jones had their problems after Jones won the title in 1980 and became first driver. During the 1981 Brazilian GP Reutemann ignored team orders and went on to win the race, after that their relationship went even more sour. Reutemann later said he wanted 'to bury the hatchet' which led to Jones' classic comment: "Yeah, in your back."
Ferrari drivers Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi clashed during the San Marino GP in 1982. Pironi seemingly ignored team orders and overtook Villeneuve to take the win, Villeneuve was so upset he left the podium after he had collected his second place trophy, and vowed never to speak to Pironi again. Two weeks later he was killed during the qualification of the Belgium GP, which left Pironi with the eternal burden and stigma of being 'a traitor who killed Villeneuve'. Pironi died in 1987 during a off-shore powerboat accident.
Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell had problems when they drove for Williams, Piquet didn't expect Mansell would be such a strong opponent, but he was, which resulted in a polemic of mutual offences. Piquet went way over the line when he commented Mansell's wife was 'an unattractive woman'. Many still believe this internal struggle cost Williams the title. Alain Prost and Mansell drove for Ferrari in 1990, but again the relationship went sour, Ferrari's internal politics intensified the tension between the two, and there were numerous cases of favoritism when the team gave Prost the best car and aero parts.
Prost and Ayrton Senna drove for McLaren in 1988 and 1989, and this was by far the most famous battle between team mates. In the beginning McLaren pretended there was a healthy rivalry between the two drivers, but it soon became apparent the relationship was anything but healthy. This resulted in the famous crash in 1989 during the Japanese GP, when Prost didn't give Senna enough room at the last chicane, and the pair collided. Prost retired from the race, but Senna managed to get going again with the help of the marshals and won the race, and as he thought at that moment, the championship as well.
But hours after the race the FIA Stewards concluded Senna had cut off the chicane and disqualified him from the race, which meant Prost won the championship. Senna was furious and accused FIA President Jean-Marie Balestre of corruption and favoritism. Senna returned the favor to Prost in 1990, when he, again during the Japanese GP, ran Prost in his Ferrari off the track right after the start, both drivers ended up in the gravel trap, but this time it was Senna who won the championship.
And that takes us right back to 2010, there are some similarities between the Prost/Senna feud and the Webber/Vettel and the Hamilton/Button feuds, back in those days many insiders believed it just not such a great idea to have two champions, or champions to be, in one team. It often results in a clash between two big egos, which in the end can cost a team the title. Hopefully that will not happen with Red Bull and McLaren, but both teams will have to make sure the situation as it is now will not escalate.
Ecclestone and his girlfriend
Bernie Ecclestone, the 79-year old FOM boss, has after his wife divorced him in 2009, found the new love of his life. He is now dating the 30-year old Brazilian Fabiana Flosi, who is the Brazilian F1 vice-president of marketing. Ecclestone about Fabiana, "She's a really relaxed person who's great to spend time with, and that's what you need in a potential partner. On a scale of one to ten about how positive I am of having a future with her, I hope it's ten - but it's early days." Bernard Charles Ecclestone will become 80 years old on October 28, but the fact his girlfriend is almost five decades younger doesn't seem to bother him or Fabiana at all.
But ex-friend of Flosi, Brazilian pediatrician Dr Fernando Nascimento, was stunned when he learned about the romance, "That just does not happen. The guy is almost 80, he is about 5ft (1.5m) tall. How can that be? It's a joke, its unbelievable. She simply ran away. She hadn't told anybody. She just took her clothes and left. I feel like she stabbed me in the back."
Ecclestone's daughters Tamara (26) and Petra (21), who together with their partners were also present at the British GP last weekend, still have to get used to their father's new girlfriend. Ecclestone and his daughters were seen posing for the photographers, but Ecclestone's girlfriend was notably absent during the event. Ecclestone gave no explanation for her absence, but he remains optimistic and commented, "She's gorgeous but, forget everything else, she's a nice person - she has a good nature." Whatever people in the paddock think about the new romance, it certainly looks like Ecclestone has his love-live back on track again.
Join us again next week for the weekly "Formula One: On and off track".
See also: Formula One - On and Off track week 27