The following exclusive interview was conducted by Brad Spurgeon, the Formula 1 Guide at About.com for an article published in the International Herald Tribune. However, the interview appears here in its entirety, especially transcribed for exclusive use on formula1.about.com.
The interview took place in Dubai during the launch of the Michael Schumacher World Champion Tower, a real estate project being built in Abu Dhabi by the Marasi Real Estate Fund, designed by a German architectural firm, and licenced by Schumacher's management company. The tower is the first of a projected seven towers to be built around the world, and reflecting Schumacher's qualities as a driver. Check out the Schumacher article in the IHT for further information.
The Schumacher Interview:
On whether his latest project, building a Michael Schumacher World Champion Tower in Abu Dhabi, is a new shift, a change in his career:I don’t know if it is a change of career, I have had a lot of business partners during my active period. DVAG [a company that sponsors his Michael Schumacher baseball caps] is a business partner. If you look at their strategy and their concept, they use me for spirit, in order to increase the motivation of all of the people inside the company. And the way that they work, the philosophy of the company, is very much too what I represent in my own character. And here we have exactly the same again. So it is something that we have been doing for many years in different fields, and now in the real estate area. But here we have a big philosophy, behind which represents a lot more my character and what I stand for. So it’s just another playing field, that’s it about it.
On the fact that he is so rich that he doesn’t have to work again in his life but that he must need, by nature, to occupy himself with something, as he was always one of the hardest working drivers. He would even work hard while doing go karting events that counted for nothing as a professional driver:I enjoy it, especially go karting, it always was and is still a huge passion for me because I can do everything myself. And I just love to do it, I know what I’m doing on the go kart. But indeed, when I was active, I was permanently thinking, what is the next step? What is the next thing to do? How to improve. I was always focused around the next race, I want to win the next race. And with that, I want to win the championship.
[Spoken with emotion:] To have a car in your hands, a team working with you with which you maximize your performance, and driving finally this car at the track, and just knowing and feeling that this is the maximum that you can achieve, that has been such a thrill for all those years. I always was hungry for this.
On whether or not he is wrestling with a kind of existential dilemma of what to focus on now that his racing career has ended:No, because I said to myself that the day it will come - I knew that before - that when the day will come, I will stop. I don’t want to do something. I don’t want to be focused straightaway on a different project. I just want to be free and see what is the next thing that I want to do in my life. I’m free right now, I choose what I want to do. I’m active in a certain sense with Ferrari still, but with as much time as I wish to dedicate to it. And the rest is kind of my planning, that I’m available for the family when we have kids' holidays. I want to be home, simply, or traveling around with my family, and not being in some part of the world and not being at home – without having a fixed concept.
I enjoy my two-wheel activities right now. That is purely fun. I just like it. I know that I can’t achieve anything with it. But I don’t have to achieve anything because I have achieved what I wanted to achieve. That now is just pure pleasure. From there on, I’m doing several things at Ferrari, I’m doing some business – as I’m doing here right now. I’m sure something will come up that will interest me in a way that I will have passion for. I need this passion, otherwise I don’t want to just sit at an office desk and pass the time.
On the irony of quitting life as a racing driver in part to be safe from danger for his young family, and yet turning to racing motorcycles – which is probably more dangerous than Grand Prix cars:In a way you’re right. But there is another point of view. I used to ride Harleys and we used to go in a group of guys around the old parts of the world on the roads. And believe me, what I have seen and experienced there is far more dangerous than what I am doing now on the race track. Far more dangerous. It’s difficult to understand because very few people have been with a motorbike on a race track to know the sensation, the pleasure and to judge the risk ratio.
[Pauses:] I believe in fate. I have always believed in fate. I do parachuting, I do the motorbike, I do climbing. I do all sorts of things that make me enjoy my time. In a way, it makes you think that I need the adrenaline. It’s not about the adrenaline. Because when I drive my motorbike I don’t have adrenaline. I just have pure pleasure and fun. The same with climbing. Parachuting, yes, it’s a little bit more adrenaline. But I have always been a little bit wild and crazy. And I can’t stop that from one day to the next, it’s not possible.