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Making plans for Michael

NEWS STORY
12/11/2006

In the XTC song, Making Plans For Nigel, the young man; "has his future in British Steel". It's been planned by loving parents, who, so we are told, only want him to be happy.

Sadly, like almost all British industry, British Steel is no more. Having been privatised by Margaret Thatcher's government in 1988, it merged with the Dutch steel producer Koninklijke Hoogovens in 1999 to form Corus. There is now widespread speculation that Corus will be swallowed up by Mittal Steel. Poor old Nigel.

Michael Schumacher, on the other hand doesn't need his father's help in planning his future, he is master of his own destiny.

Then again, what exactly does a seven-time World Champion do once he's hung up his helmet, after all, he's only 38 in January, and as we saw at Interlagos, he's hardly over the hill.

There are many who believe he will return to racing, possibly even F1, with some claiming that the German could occasionally carry out testing duties for Ferrari next season.

According to one well-placed source, Michael, hard to believe, but true, was already beginning to tire of the constant need to remain at peak fitness. Although he remains one of the fittest men in the sport, trying to maintain that fitness, as the years go by, and the opposition gets younger, puts an enormous strain on the man. The fact is, Schumacher is not only concerned that he would be unable to maintain the fitness required, he was getting tired of the whole regime.

Make no mistake, Michael will never tire of racing, it's in his blood, but he was tired of having to maintain such an extraordinary degree of fitness.

At the recent Ferrari World Finals at Monza, it was unclear, right up until the last possible moment, what sort of announcement the Maranello outfit was going to make regarding the German's future.

The Italian team was keen to announce Michael's future plans. Michael, however, still wasn't sure what role he wanted to play - if anything. The announcement was on-off on-off throughout the week between Brazil and Monza and even though was nothing was decided, an announcement was still made. 'We would like Michael to become assistant to the new CEO, Jean Todt, in making decisions' was the gist of it, though what exactly is meant by "assistant" remains ambiguous.

Note the first three words: "we would like". That's what Ferrari would like but it's not necessarily what Michael would like. The source is adamant that Michael really, really wants to leave all this behind for a while. He doesn't want to jump straight back into Grand Prix racing - would you, after 16 years of pressure, hassle and scarcely a moment's privacy?

Ferrari might be on the verge of a new golden era, then again, it might be about to head back into the F1 wilderness once again - remember those many years of non-achievement between 1979 and 1995? Michael was a massive part of the team that brought glory back to Maranello over the last ten years. However, his time as a (Formula One) driver is at an end and are we to believe that he can really serve a useful, and mutually rewarding, purpose as an 'assistant', to Jean Todt or anyone else?

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