Mass persuaded Schumacher to shun Williams and join Ferrari


Jochen Mass, who contested over 100 Grands Prix with Surtees, McLaren, ATS, Arrows and March, has revealed that he talked Michael Schumacher out of joining Williams and to join Ferrari instead.

Mass, who finally walked away from F1 in 1982 following an accident at the French Grand Prix, and has one win (Spain 1975) to his name along with wins in Sports Car and Le Mans (1989), was approached by Frank Williams in late 1993 and offered the opportunity to drive the car with which Alain Prost had driven to his fourth title.

While impressed with the all-conquering Williams, especially its numerous driver-aids, when countryman, Michael Schumacher subsequently advised him that he was looking to join the British team, Mass talked him out of it.

"I thought the car, with all the help it had, the electronics and so on, it was fantastic to drive, easy to drive," Mass tells the official F1 website's Beyond the Grid podcast. "I said 'with only that car can you become World Champion'.

"Seriously, the car was so nice it was ridiculous," he continues. "It was ridiculous from the effort, or let's say the non-existing effort, to drive it, it was just fast, wonderful, it felt good, everything was perfect.

"Michael called me up later and he said, 'I'm going to drive for Williams next year', I said, 'fantastic Michael, really good'. You know, because I really liked Frank a lot and really wanted him to have the best driver.

"But, for Michael, I said listen, 'whatever you win now, it's the car, it's not you, the car is too good. You need Ferrari, get it out of the trough it is in, pull it out and make them champions again, you would be King of Italy'.

"He said, 'I don't know, I don't know', and a month later he called me up said 'I'm going to Ferrari'. I said, 'Well done.'"

"Of course, I felt sorry in a way for Frank" Mass admits, "but these championships, if you have a very superior car, of course, have less weight than if you make Ferrari World Champions again."

Schumacher joined Ferrari in 1996, and as the Italian team was rebuilt by Jean Todt, Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne, the German went on to win five successive titles between 2000 and 2004.

Williams won the Constructors' Championship in 1994, with Damon Hill securing the drivers' title for the Grove outfit in 1996 and Jacques Villeneuve a year later.

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Published: 11/11/2020
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