“Michael Schumacher is not the 2001 World Champion yet, and anything could happen”– Bernie Ecclestone on how he handled drivers’ whims.
Before the turn of the century, Michael Schumacher was probably the biggest star in Formula 1, and by that period, he played a pivotal role in Ferrari’s revival. Thus, if someone had to take against him, would have had to think twice.
But this probably never bothered ex-F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, as he once threatened Schumacher with his 2001 title while he was reluctant to travel to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the United States, almost three weeks after the 9/11 attack.
“Let’s get one thing straight. Michael Schumacher is not the 2001 World Champion yet, anything could happen,” Ecclestone told British newspaper The Sunday Times before the race.
“Maybe he could lose his points over one of the next three races. I’m sure that won’t be the case, but it could be. The race is going to take place, but I can’t control what drivers are going to do. However, there may be retaliation.”
In the end, Schumacher, along with the rest of the drivers, joined the contingent for the United States Grand Prix, and the German secured a P2 result.
— F1 in the 2000s (@CrystalRacing) January 12, 2021
Didn’t want to give in to terrorists
Ecclestone and F1 agreed that his organisation didn’t want to yield in front of the terrorists and would let the show go on to honour the contract they signed.
“It wasn’t a hard decision to go ahead with the race,” said Ecclestone. “It was simple. We have a contract, and we are honouring a contract, just like we always do. The terrorists have just done something which is unbelievable.
“These attacks have been such a big shock to the entire world. To everybody. My feeling is simple. You cannot bow down to terrorism. These people did this to terrorise the world and if we are terrorised and stop what we are doing they have achieved what they wanted to achieve.”
“Everyone in America and the rest of the world should go on exactly as normal and refuse to give in to them.”