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Views from the Belgian Paddock 31 Aug 2004

(L to R): Flavio Briatore (ITA) Renault Team Principal and Mike Gascoyne (GBR) Toyota Technical Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, 28 August 2004 Ron Dennis (GBR) McLaren Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, 27 August 2004 Eddie Jordan (IRE) Jordan Team Principal is interviewed by a woman.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, German Grand Prix, Race Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 25 July 2004 Paul Stoddart (AUS) Minardi Team Owner.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race Day, Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary, 15 August 2004

Is Michael Schumacher good for Formula One racing? As the Ferrari star walked away from Spa with his seventh drivers’ title we asked other team principals what they think are the effects of the serial world champion on the sport. Do they subscribe to Bernie Ecclestone’s view that people want to admire such super heroes?

Flavio Briatore, Renault: “It’s great. People want heroes. And they like the thrill of the fact that even a super hero can be beaten. Personally, for me? It makes me want to cry.”

Ron Dennis, Mclaren: “Obviously Michael and Ferrari are doing a good job and they should not be beaten or handicapped by any regulations. Viewers love to see winners. That’s motor racing.”

David Richards, BAR: “Michael is just so unbelievably good and he has proven that he is fighting like hell whether it’s the win or only a position. People are attracted by such a spirit. And probably it’s also a sort of hedonic delight to be there when he is beaten.”

Eddie Jordan, Jordan: “I think that Michael’s dominance by and large is not helping the sport. He is a very reclusive person – that’s his right – but to be a super hero in the public’s eye you need to have a story. At the moment the person on the street thinks that Michael is just too good – almost robotic.”

Paul Stoddart, Minardi: “Michael will very likely also win the next two world championships – conservatively estimated because he said that he will probably retire in 2006. We have seen such dominance by Michael in the last five years that my guess is that everybody who is fed up with this fact has already turned off the TV. That there has not been a real dramatic drop in viewer numbers lets me guess that people feel very comfortable with watching a super hero.”

Tsutomu Tomita, Toyota: “It is terrible. It is terrible for us. But don’t misunderstand me. In the future Toyota wants to be in such a situation as Ferrari is with Michael. And we will concentrate all our efforts to achieve that goal. In an overall view it is my opinion that people are always attracted by outstanding personalities so I think Formula One benefits.”