Schumacher prepares to dazzle French fans
This Sunday, the Champs Elysees in Paris will provide the backdrop to an extraordinary parade when Michael Schumacher drives his Ferrari F2004 from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de Concorde in a special tribute to the reigning world champions.
Schumacher, who sealed his seventh drivers title earlier this year, will be followed through the heart of the French capital by a series of road-going Ferraris, including an Enzo, a 575 Maranello, a 612 Scaglietti and an F430.
The occasion will also mark the sealing of an agreement between the French Ministry of Solidarity, Health and Family and the ICM (Institut du Cerveau et la Moelle epiniere - Brain and Spinal Cord Institute), which numbers Schumacher and Ferrari Managing Director Jean Todt amongst its patrons.
After travelling around the Place de la Concorde, the Ferraris will head for the Ministry offices, where they will be met by the Minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, the Director General of Public Assistance, Rose-Marie Van Lerberghe and the ICM President, Professor Gerard Saillant.
The cars will boast several noteworthy drivers: as well as Schumacher, Todt will be on board the Enzo, former Ferrari driver Rene Arnoux will be behind the wheel of the 575 Maranello and alongside him will be film director Luc Besson, also an ICM patron.
Another former Ferrari driver, Patrick Tambay will drive the 612 Scaglietti, while Felipe Massa, Ferrari Formula One test driver in 2003, will take the controls of the company's new eight-cylinder car, the F430.
The parade, which takes place after a similar display featuring World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb, will start from the Arc de Triomphe at 10.30 am, finishing in the Avenue Duquesne at 11.00.
It will form the finale to a weekend of international motorsport action in Paris. On Saturday the Stade de France hosts the annual Race of Champions - Nations Cup event, where drivers from the worlds premier racing series will duel around a specially-constructed figure-of-eight course.
From the Formula One world are Schumacher, Massa, David Coulthard and Jean Alesi. Rallying stars include Loeb, Marcus Gronholm and Colin McRae. And from the American formulae, respective reigning ILR and Champ Car champions Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais will both be present.