After winning his first F1 title in 2000, Michael Schumacher requested for a private test at Fiorano to make sure he can still drive at his best, FIA President Jean Todt revealed.
Despite having an image as an arrogant driver, Schumacher was a very humble and shy person Todt explained. Todt was taking part in an event where the seven-time world champion was inducted into FIA’s new Hall of Fame in Paris on Monday.
Schumacher is still recovering from his 2011 skiing accident and was represented by his manager Sabine Kehm at the event.
Todt was Schumacher’s team boss when the German started his title campaign for Ferrari in 2000 until 2004. He shared two incidents he remembered the most from their time together.
The first was when Schumacher won his first title in 2000 at the Japanese Grand Prix. The other one was, during the 2000 winter break when the German asked for a private test at Ferrari’s test track.
“I remember when he was driving for Ferrari, and there are two things I will mention,” said Todt. “In 2000, after 21 years, Ferrari was the 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.”
Everyone present at the opening of the Hall of Fame felt Schumacher’s absence. But he is still fighting to recover from his injuries, said Todt.
“We miss Michael,” said Todt. “He’s there, still fighting. I’m happy to have Sabine 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.”
Accepting the honours on behalf of Schumacher, his manager Kehm said: “I’m just a poor replacement this evening. We all know Michael should be here. I’m sure he would love to be here.
“He always had the highest respect for everyone in this room. He would feel honoured. I also know how big a friend Michael is of Jean. I’m sure he would be proud of him for making this possible.
“I don’t think it was only discipline that made him so special, I think what made him so successful was the love and compassion with everyone else in the room, the love and passion for this sport.”