Ex-Ferrari chief Ross Brawn has delivered an emotional antidote to F1 legend Michael Schumacher’s on-track reputation as “a despicable, horrible character”.
As Schumacher recovers from brain injuries suffered in a 2013 ski accident, the man who oversaw all seven of the German’s record-breaking world titles demolished some harsh myths around the 51-year-old.
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The German’s win-at-all-cost attitude diminished the popularity of his reign from 1994 to 2004, including among fellow drivers, especially as he was accused of racing dangerously.
But Brawn, who was technical director during Schumacher’s stints at Ferrari and Benetton, claims the motorsport icon changed minds once people met him away from the wheel.
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The 65-year-old Brit told Sky’s new docuseries Race to Perfection the legend “was a pretty misunderstood character”.
“I don’t know if he quite enjoyed the impression he created because he was quite an intimidating character in many ways,” Brawn said.
“But if you knew him personally he was quite the opposite, very engaging, very personal.
“So many times I introduced him to people who, before they met him, thought he was a despicable, horrible character and you introduce them, and once they got to know him they completely changed.
“I had that happen so many times because there was Michael the racing driver out on the track and there was Michael the human being away from the track.”
Schumacher was in hospital for around nine months after being put in a medically-induced coma after his head hit a rock as he skied in the French Alps.
Little has been revealed of his rehabilitation since he returned home in September 2014.
But Brawn emphasised that everyone who has known Schumacher well liked him as a person.
“I don’t know of anyone who worked with Michael who had a bad word to say about him,” he said.
“Lots of people who raced against him had a different opinion but nobody I know who ever worked with Michael ever had a bad opinion about him because of his integrity, his commitment, his human side.
“He was a very strong team member of any team he was part of and it’s a tragedy what’s happened but he’s a lovely human being.”
Brawn’s words are particularly timely as Schumacher’s son Mick took a demo run in his dad’s F2004 ahead of last Sunday’s Tuscan Grand Prix – Ferrari’s 1000th F1 race.
Schumacher Junior, 21, leads the F2 championship by eight points from Britain’s Callum Ilott and is tipped for F1 next year.
The word around the F2 track is that Mick needs just a top-three finish in the 2020 table to step up to motorsport’s elite level.
— The Sun