Maranello, 31st July - It's not often that Michael Schumacher is as laid back as he was in Hockenheim on Sunday after failing to finish a grand prix Actually, Michael had every reason to be relaxed, given that his chances of taking the title are...
Maranello, 31st July - It's not often that Michael Schumacher is as laid back as he was in Hockenheim on Sunday after failing to finish a grand prix Actually, Michael had every reason to be relaxed, given that his chances of taking the title are now greater than before. In Budapest, all he needs to do is pick up three more points than his closest rival, David Coulthard to put the Scotsman out of the running. Even if Coulthard wins all four races after that, he would still miss out by virtue of a smaller number of second place finishes.
If Michael finishes third in Hungary and Coulthard is sixth or out of the points, the Ferrari man retains his crown, as long as Barrichello or Ralf Schumacher do not win. If Michael finishes fourth and Coulthard scores no points, the title goes to the German as long as Barrichello does not win and Ralf Schumacher finishes no better than third. The reigning champion had not worked all this out when he was informed after the race. "Is that so? Usually, I am really good at working out mental arithmetic," said Michael with a smile. "But I had not looked at it in so much detail."
The result though is that Michael is definitely in a good mood since the German Grand Prix as could be seen during a party on Sunday night at the Holiday Inn. Once the initial disappointment had passed, a big smile appeared. "Of course it would have been nicer to have finished my home race and celebrate on the podium with Ralf and Rubens. That would have been the ideal, but it did not happen and now I must concentrate on what lies ahead," said the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver. "There is one point I would like to clarify though. I was told that it looked as though I was laughing when David retired from the race but that's not why I was smiling. I was just having a laugh with two of the marshals while I waiting at the side of the track. Of course, I tried to follow what was happening in the race, but it wasn't easy. They had an old radio with which I could just about find out what was happening on the track. It was only later that I learned David had to retire, so then I kept an eye on the track and realised David had not come past. So I found out he was out, but not at the exact time it happened."
Michael was not too concerned about the accident at the start, even though it was his second in 12 days, after the one at Monza on 17th August. "These two accidents had nothing in common," he explained. "At Monza, I went straight on into a barrier and it was pretty serious, But at Hockenheim, I have to say it was not as serious. When you are in the car in front, the entire rear end of the car absorbs the impact in one go. For the driver behind, in this case Luciano Burti, it is much more serious. That's why I was so pleased to see he was alright."
Like almost everyone in Formula 1, Michael Schumacher is thinking about spending some time away from the races to get in shape for the Hungarian Grand Prix. "No testing is allowed, which is why I can cope with the idea of a break quite easily," reckoned the driver. "I am really looking forward to spending time with my family. I'll be able to enjoy a few days and just unwind a bit. I have no specific plans apart from just being all together. It will mean I will arrive in Hungary refreshed and ready to go mentally."