Schumacher spent 11 of those two decades with Ferrari and ended up with seven World Championship titles. After hanging up his boots in 2007, Schumi felt he still had some gas left in the tank and was back for a second hurrah with the Mercedes GP team in 2009. With the inaugural Airtel Indian Grand Prix set to get under way at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida on October 30, motorsports fanatics in this country will have a chance to catch the champion live in action. Schumacher talks to FEs Rajat Guha in an interview:
Your impressions of India
The track looks very interesting. (I have) just seen the safety car running around and also the elevation change and blind spots. So, its quite a bit of challenge for us and with high-and low-speed corners, we expect good overtaking.
Where do you see the team being positioned for this GP You have been getting up there to the third place in team standings.
I feel its more to do with the nature of the tracks, which may suit some more than others. Therefore, we might have a chance indeed to go a little bit further than just finishing seventh or eighth. Qualifying is usually difficult, but, then, the race looks a little bit stronger recently.
You have millions of fans, both in India and world over. How important is it for you to get on the top step of podium next year and how important is for Mercedes to give you a good car
I think it is very important for both of us. We are building up the future of Mercedes and hope to take the fruits of that rather sooner than later. But then there are limits to what you can do and you have to accept those limits too.
Michael, you are into 20th year of your career and will be racing in India for the first time this season. Your thoughts on F1 breaking into new grounds with its entry into India
I can only repeat myself in saying again that F1 is a world championship so the more continents and countries involved, the better it is in my view. I have always been curious to get to know new cultures, so I am looking forward to travelling to India as I have never been there.
Did the crash during qualifying at Spa spoil the 20-year celebrations Were you satisfied with the fifth place finish in the Belgian Grand Prix
I was very happy with how the whole weekend went. It was nice to see that such a lot of people were happy for me, and I very much appreciate their attitude. The way the race went in the end made up big time for the disappointment in qualifying and we are geared to go to Monza now.
What motivated you to make a comeback into F1 especially with a relatively new team like the Mercedes GP
My love for the sport, simply this. Plus, the fact that Ross Brawn was involved, and Mercedes. I was a Mercedes driver before I entered F1, and I have won all my championships together with Ross, so it was like the closing of a circle.
Mercedes is starting a Driving Academy just the third one outside Germany in India. Would you like to come and interact with motoracing enthusiasts in India
I think this is exactly what I will do when I will be driving a F1 car during the race in India: interact with the fans. I look forward to it.