FIA President Jean Todt provided some fascinating insight into Michael Schumacher’s humility. Many perceived the German legend as an arrogant person. On Monday, the seven-time World Champion was inducted into the FIA’s new Hall of Fame in Paris. Schumacher is still recovering from head injuries sustained in a 2013 skiing crash. His manager Sabine Kehm represented him instead.
Jean Todt was Schumacher’s team boss at Ferrari throughout their title-winning campaigns from 2000 to 2004. The Frenchman said that two episodes stood out for him at their time together. One was when they sealed his and Ferrari’s first title together at the Japanese Grand Prix in 2000. The other was during winter testing when Schumacher asked for the private run at Ferrari’s test track.
Jean Todt on Schumacher
Todt said, “I remember when he was driving for Ferrari, and there are two things I will mention. 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, would you allow me to do some testing in Fiorano to make sure I am still able to drive? Michael was always full of doubt, whether he was a good driver or not. He made his testing, and he was not too bad.”
Todt said that everyone present felt Schumacher’s absence from the opening of the Hall of Fame. But he made it clear that the German was still fighting to make a full recovery from his injuries.
“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.”
Sabine Kehm speaks on Schumi’s behalf
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.”