The Ferrari legend calls for the need to construct race tracks with the future in mind.
Schumacher's advice for Yas Island track builders
DUBAI // Michael Schumacher will not be completing a victory lap "certainly not as a Formula One driver," he said.
"Yes I may come back here to the race to watch it, but not to drive it. Not unless it's a fun motorbike race." The seven-time F1 world champion was in Dubai and Abu Dhabi this week to reveal the plans for a foray into the less sporty realm of real estate. Yesterday he unveiled the model for the Michael Schumacher World Champion Tower during the Citiscape exhibition.
Although he made a brief walk back into the limelight to introduce the project, the racer said he valued his private life and freedom from the public eye. He insists there is life after Formula One. "I'm still alive, absolutely." Since retiring from the circuit in 2006 as one of the most statistically successful racers in the sport's history, Schumacher said he has stayed involved with F1. "I'm still enrolled in the background," he said. "At some of the races I go simply to see how the team functions, to supervise and offer advice in order to keep our winning spirit." Schumacher is also still involved as an ambassador of Ferrari, the iconic red car that carried him to multiple victories.
He also has advice for the track under construction on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi: create a track that will have long-term appeal by turning it into a talking point. "I hope that they build with the knowledge of what F1 really needs," he said. "You can make a beautiful circuit but then, as a driver, or as a show afterwards, it won't function. There are some principles that people have to look into and follow."
Between the races in Bahrain, Singapore and Abu Dhabi, Schumacher said he had no doubt of the sport's growth in Asia and the Middle East. "Asia and the nearby region has certainly a lot more potential to develop because if you look at how many race tracks exist in the regions, there are far less than in Europe," he said. "Asia and the near east are in a position to afford (new race tracks and races." Of course, holding an F1 race is not an altruistic endeavour.
"F1 is an investment strategy that increases the knowlege of the country, that is, the ability to be known as a country, quite dramatically. It is why you see places like Bahrain and Abu Dhabi hosting races because they want to have people coming over to visit the country." Meanwhile, the Canadian Grand Prix has been dropped from the Formula One calendar for the 2009 season. The World Motor Sport Council met in Paris yesterday and decided to go ahead with a programme with no races in North America.
The addition of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix means the season remains 18 races long. The calendar also allows for a summer break as the Turkish GP has moved from August to June while the British Grand Prix is scheduled for one last time at Silverstone on June 21.
The 2009 F1 calendar: Australia - March 29; Malaysia - April 5; Bahrain - April 9; Spain - May 10; Monaco - May 24; Turkey - June 7; Great Britain - June 21; France - June 28; Germany - July 12; Hungary - July 26; Valencia - Aug 23; Belgium - Aug 30; Italy - Sept 13; Singapore - Sept 27; Japan - Oct 11; China - Oct 18; Brazil - Nov 1; Abu Dhabi - Nov 15
Schumacher's fact file
• Born: January 3, 1969
• A seven-time world champion
• The only German to win the World championship
• He is the only driver to have an entire season of podium finishes
• Teams: Benetton (1992-95), Ferrari (1996-2006)
• Championship titles: 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
• Consecutive titles: 5 (2000-2004)
• Race victories: 91
• Consecutive wins: 7 (2004, Europe-Hungary)
• Record wins with one team: 72 (Ferrari)
• Most successful GP: 8 (France)