FIA president Jean Todt has revealed seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher asked to conduct a private test after winning his first world championship with Ferrari to be sure he could still drive at his best.
Todt was speaking at the unveiling of the FIA’s Hall of Fame, Schumacher is among a selection of drivers who have been inducted to celebrate Formula 1’s 33 world champions.
Todt, who worked alongside Schumacher as Ferrari’s team boss during the German’s tenure with the team from 1996-2006, gave new light on Schumacher’s personality outside of the car.
The Frenchman says two memories stand out from their time working together, with one being that Schumacher asked for a test at Ferrari’s test track in Fiorano after his title victory in 2000, to end his self doubt over whether he could continue to drive at his maximum potential.
“I remember when he was driving for Ferrari, and there are two things I will mention,” Todt said. “In 2000, after 21 years, Ferrari was champion with Michael.
“I took him to the podium, and I said Michael, our racing life will never be the same. Clearly that day at Suzuka, that has been the strongest moment in my career.
“Another thing to show what Michael is like, when he was finishing the 2000 season as champion, we were starting the 2001 season. He asked me, quite shy, because he’s a shy guy. He looks arrogant but he’s shy.
“He asked me, would you allow me to do some testing in Fiorano to make sure I am still able to drive? He was always full of doubt, whether he was a good driver or not. He made his testing, and he was not too bad.”
Schumacher continues to recover from a skiing accident in 2013 that left him with severe head injuries.
Although no new information on his condition has been stated, Todt assured F1’s most successful driver was still fighting to make a complete recovery.
“We miss Michael,” added Todt. “He’s there, still fighting. I’m happy to have Sabine [Kehm, Schumacher’s manager] here, to run the family business. I wanted [son] Mick to come tonight but he’s doing some testing in Spain and [wife] Corinna is in the States.
“A fight is going on. Michael is someone very special, someone special for motorsport. He’s special to me, he’s a friend.”