Last weekend we watched one of Formula One s all time greats retire at the top of his game, leaving many pondering the future of F1 post-Schumacher. However, F1 may not lose the valuable input Michael Schumacher made during his sixteen years of racing at the pinnacle of motorsport.
Today at a press conference at the time-honoured end of season celebrations in Monza, Jean Todt announced that Michael Schumacher would have a role to play within Ferrari next year. According to Todt, Michael was responsible for selecting Massa and RÃ¤ikkÃ¶nen for 2007, and amongst other things, he will continue to manage future driver line-ups.
“Michael has always been interested in following young drivers,” said Todt, recently promoted to Ferrari CEO as well as interim MD of their racing division.
“I have one of them next to me, I remember Michael talking to me about Felipe when he still was in lesser series. He also talked to me about Kimi before he entered F1 so he has a unique eye, and it will be important to allow us to make choices on the drivers of the future and also to follow the current drivers.â€
“Michael is one of the greatest drivers in the history of motor racing. He has a unique knowledge of racing, so we’ll try to take advantage of his knowledge in the best way to take choices for the team at a sporting and technical level.â€
“He will be very close to us while he won’t have any particular obligation to be present neither in the factory nor at the races nor at private tests. He will be an indispensable interface in the process of taking decisions for the future of Ferrari’s sporting arm.â€
“Finally, as he’s done up to now, he will make his contribution on the definition of the road carsâ€, referring to his work developing the latest fleet of Ferrari s, including the 430, Enzo and FXX.
“The choice of Kimi was taken together with Michael. He was always informed on a daily basis of the discussions we had. He knew before and during the meetings, and knew of the decision. So it wasn’t a decision taken suddenly without informing him and he’s always agreed with this choice.â€
“I read many things about his role within the team. What is certain is that we’ve taken many decisions together with Michael and that’s one of the reasons why we’re very thankful to him for carrying on giving his experience in Ferrari’s sporting future.”
However, unlike Todt, Schumacher is keeping his cards very close to his chest with regard to his new role within the team.
“I don’t think right now there is any need to specify in concrete terms exactly how and what, Jean has just said what I’m interested in and where Ferrari feel I could be helpful. I’m very happy to be involved in this way but I look forward first of all to get some rest for a few months and then I’ll have a much clearer view on what I’d like to have.â€
“I’m so happy that Ferrari gave me this opportunity. As it’s always been, Ferrari gave me the confidence but also gave me the freedom to reach decisions and come to terms in common agreement. That’s something very unique and now I need a couple of months to get myself clear.”
The president of Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo, shed further light upon Michael s expected contribution in 2007, describing the seven times World Champion as a super-assistant .
“I’m very happy that Michael will continue to work with us and to share our choices and contributing to them and this is important. Even if he won’t be inside the cockpit, his experience and his professionalism will be very useful for the future of Ferrari. Michael will be Todt’s de-facto super-assistant for certain things.”