SCHUMACHER GEARED UP FOR THE RACE OF CHAMPIONS
Michael Schumacher has had his first taste of The Race of Champions track at Wembley Stadium, before he takes on the cream of motorsport in the knock-out competition tomorrow.
The seven-time Formula 1 World Champion arrived at Wembley Stadium shortly before today's press conference, in which he was drawn to face five-time Norwegian Rally Champion, Henning Solberg, in tomorrow's first heat.
"All of these guys are good in their way," said Schumacher, giving his reaction to the draw. "I don't know Henning too much to judge but I'll take it as it comes."
Schumacher was one of the first drivers out this afternoon, getting track time in all the cars he is scheduled to drive in tomorrow's unique event in which champion drivers from F1, NASCAR, World Rally, touring and sports car compete on a specially-built tarmac race track at the London landmark.
"I haven't driven all the cars yet, just the buggie and the Solution F," said Schumacher, who retired from F1 in 2006 but decided to make his competitive come back with The Race of Champions 2007. "The Solution F is a bit big for this track I think, but it's the same for everyone. I prefer the buggie; it's like a go kart in the rain! There is absolutely no grip!"
Also testing this afternoon was Schumacher's ROC Nations Cup Team Germany partner, Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Toro Rosso. "It was very narrow," said Vettel, speaking of the parallel race track constructed at Wembley Stadium for The Race of Champions using 1,800 tonnes of tarmac. "Maybe it looks easy from outside but there is no space for mistakes. There is one line that is very grippy but if you are off-line, it's very dusty. I'm really enjoying it though; it's a lot of fun."
Jenson Button will be debuting in The Race of Champions tomorrow and says the cars are completely different to what he is used to after sampling them in practice this afternoon.
"The Solution F is probably the closest to what I drive," said Button, who races for Honda F1. "It's a fun car but there's so little grip out there. It's fun; I enjoyed it.
"With all the cars here you get very little grip so you get a lot of sideways action! I've been very close to the wall, but if you're pushing, you're almost touching the barriers here anyway!"
One driver that fell prey to the tough conditions was David Coulthard, who made contact with the barriers in the Solution F.
"I was really enjoying the practice until I crashed the car!" said the Red Bull Racing driver. "I was feeling quite confident; I thought I knew where the balance was, but today was a chance to push the limits of the car. Tomorrow I'll have to be a bit more conservative."