Schumacher stays cool under fire 18 May 2003
World champion Michael Schumacher's reputation for coolness under pressure will have been further reinforced after the Austrian Grand Prix. Not only did he take another strong victory, he did so after sitting through a fire caused by escaping fuel during his first pit stop.
"I guess the mechanics felt I was little bit too cold and cool and wanted to warm me up!" he joked at the post-race press-conference, "I thought they did a great job under the circumstances to still control everything and the car survived."
The blaze was quickly extinguished by a quick-witted Ferrari pit crew and Schumacher's F2003-GA rejoined the race, albeit visibly marked by the effects of the fire and the extinguisher used to put it out.
Asked at the press conference whether he was tempted to get out of the car when he saw flames, Schumacher replied with a simple "no."
"I actually did, in my car in Formula Three, have a little fire in the cockpit but you sort of know that you have protection, you have the overalls and you know you can survive for a little while but I didn't feel very concerned, honestly," he explained.
"If you had seen fuel splashing around and fire burning it would have been a different story as we have seen with Jos [Verstappen] in 1994 in Hockenheim, but that didn't seem to be the circumstance here."
"I don't know whether you should call that lucky," he replied to a reporter's question, "I think I was very unlucky to have the problem, honestly."