“You are being paid $2 million a race” – When Michael Schumacher’s daughter forced Ferrari boss to scold seven-time world champion
|Mon Aug 08 2022
Michael Schumacher’s daughter forced Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo to remind her father that he’s bound to Ferrari.
An unpredictable season, fought to the bitter end despite lacking the champion that most people anticipated; that’s how Ferrari spent its 50th season as a constructor in Formula 1. 1999, the year that saw Ferrari reclaim the Constructors’ Championship, a title it had last held 16 years ago.
After the 1991 team’s collapse, Luca di Montezemolo was promptly recruited by Fiat to lead the Ferrari team he had previously managed in the 1970s. And five years later, after dominating Formula 1 with Benetton; Michael Schumacher too joined the Italian outfit.
Schumacher used his stature as double world champion, and the fact that Ferrari needed him, to dictate his own terms. This included enlisting Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne, the technical brains behind his Benetton title successes. Montezemolo later appointed Jean Todt to manage the team.
Brawn, Todt, Byrne, and Schumacher would eventually work together as a team and were always supportive of one another. However, this “forcefield” occasionally also blocked Montezemolo from taking decisions.
As a result, Montezemolo was a little frustrated that others beneath him might essentially reduce his control.
But the Ferrari boss did not appear to be as intimidated by Michael Schumacher as Jean Todt was. That was evident in 1999 when the two men faced up to each other after the British Grand Prix incident.
The 1999 British Grand Prix accident
The 1999 British GP took place in Silverstone on July 11. The German driver had been fighting for position with Ferrari teammate Eddie Irvine; when Schumacher speared straight on entering Stowe corner.
The then 2-time world champion broke his right leg as a result of a high-speed collision with the tyre barrier after appearing to make no attempt to brake or get through the corner. He was extricated from the car and brought to the hospital, otherwise unharmed.
David Coulthard then won the race, beating Irvine, who subsequently rose to the top driver position for Scuderia Ferrari. As a result, Schumacher would be out of action until the Malaysian Grand Prix three months later, ending his championship hopes.
In his absence, Irvine took over as Ferrari’s lead driver and championship contender for Ferrari. On October 3rd Schumacher declared that he would not be well enough to compete in the final two races of the year in Malaysia and Japan, even after he had recovered enough to go for testing.
But Schumacher didn’t seem to want his teammate to win the world championship. It was evident that Schumacher had decided, with Todt’s help to see the last two races out. This was when Irvine urged Montezemolo to step in.
When Ferrari boss scolded Michael Schumacher
What transpired afterwards revealed the different relationships Schumacher had with Todt and Montezemolo. According to BusinessF1, On October 5, 1999; the Ferrari boss called Schumacher at his home in Switzerland and asked him if he would change his mind and drive.
However, Schumacher’s young daughter Gina-Maria Schumacher answered the phone and informed Montezemolo that her father was “getting out of his football boots”.
Montezemolo questioned the little girl more closely and ascertained that she and her brother had been enjoying a rough game of football in the garden with their father.
Essa era a base da Ferrari, Jean Todt que estava na equipe desde 1993, e que foi mantido no fim de 96 graças a um pedido do Schumacher. Ross Brawn (Diretor Técnico) e Rory Byrne (Designer chefe) trazidos pelo Michael em 97 e o Paolo Martinelli que era diretor da parte de motores. pic.twitter.com/RhigNI7jJj
— ⚙ Scuderia Milani ⚙ (@ScuderiaMilani) April 13, 2020
When Schumacher eventually picked up the phone, Montezemolo asked him if indeed he had been playing football. The German had no choice but to be truthful.
After learning this, Montezemolo told Schumacher that if he was fit enough to play football he was also fit enough to drive in Malaysia and Japan. When Schumacher resisted; Montezemolo reminded him that he was being paid $2 million a race and would do as he was told.
Schumacher had no choice but to agree and on Friday 8th October the team announced he will be back for the last two races.