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OCTOBER 14, 2003

Michael still waiting on retirement?

When Michael Schumacher and his brother Ralf went on a bender on Sunday night, the multiple World Champion was letting off steam. Racing drivers are unused to alcohol and often do some pretty silly things when under the influence. Michael's style gurus may think that being photographed tipping over fridges and sitting drunk at the wheel of a car are not perhaps images which he would like to see appearing in The Sun newspaper in England but, when all is said and done, only a little harm was done and no doubt all will be smoothed over in the discreet world of the Japanese. You cannot condemn such disciplined people for having a little fun. It is not great behavior for a man who is a role model to so many kids around the world but if you put drunken racing drivers and impecunious photographers (by comparison) into the same environment, it is inevitable that such things will happen.

If one compares the high jinks of today with the things racers in the old days got up to, there is no comparison. One can only wonder what The Sun would have made of a racing driver climbing a church steeple...

We did hear, however, that all that alcohol did have one interesting effect, acting as something of a truth drug on the World Champion as he is believed to have told people that retirement is not out of the question but will depend on how good the Bridgestone tires are when they are tested before next season begins. If Michael thinks there is a chance to win the World Championship he will race.

We cannot verify whether these stories are actually true, as everyone involved seems to have been in quite a state, but it is worth considering nonetheless.

Ross Brawn said after the title was won that "one day we'll stop, but it's not going to be next year. I don't know when it will be but I guess we'll all know when it comes. I don't think it will be in the next few years."

But Brawn did indicate that tires are of vital importance

"Bridgestonee have realized that they are facing much stronger competition, and in the last few months we've been spending a lot of time with them to make sure of our winter test program," he said. "It's a key element for next year and we are going to be busy on the tire front. To me success in F1 is one-third car, one-third tires, one-third driver. All those have to be at the highest level or else you won't succeed."