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Exclusive Schumacher Q&A: This was a chance I couldn't resist 15 Feb 2010

Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Jerez, Spain, Saturday 13 February 2010. Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain, Thursday 11 February 2010. Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Jerez, Spain, Saturday 13 February 2010. Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain, Thursday 11 February 2010. Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain, Thursday 11 February 2010.

Never say never again! The phrase may have been coined for James Bond, but the same also goes for a Formula One driver, especially when that driver is seven-time Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher. Not just the most controversial man in F1 history, Schumacher, at 41 years-old, is also the oldest driver on the 2010 grid, with a full three years’ absence from the sport to make up for. However, if his recent test times in the Mercedes count for anything, he’s still the same as he always was - and far from rusty…

Q: Are you aware that you are a love-hate figure?
Michael Schumacher:
I simply think that if you are around as long as I have been there will always be people who follow you more and some who follow you less. But to be able to be around for so long, I sometimes had to close myself up a bit. It may be the same again this time.

Q: Lately you have given the impression of caring a little bit more about what people think of you?
MS:
Well, let's see how the season develops. It was a very sudden decision, so we all have to get used to see me driving again - myself included…

Q: You said you felt like a kid with a new toy when you drove at Valencia last week. Are you still as keen on your new toy?
MS:
Definitely, yes. To drive a car like this again, it was just that great old feeling I know so well. Nothing comes close. I love that sensation, I always did. It was just that my batteries were empty at the end of 2006 that I retired. I would not have wanted to go on. Now my batteries are fully loaded again!

Q: To race for an afternoon is one thing, but adjusting to normal test duties beyond the 100 laps marker is quite another. Did that still feel okay?
MS:
It felt just great. No problem at all, just pure fun.

Q: Your doctor, Johannes Peil, was at the track at Valencia, but was not in Jerez. Are you both now sure you’re fully prepared?
MS:
He was in Valencia to do some checks, as he has been with me very often in the past. We wanted to make sure I am best prepared, and obviously I am, as we both didn’t see the necessity to have him join me in Jerez.

Q: How is your relationship with team mate Nico Rosberg developing? Ross Brawn hopes that you will help him to mature; Nico hopes you’ll share with him the secret of winning. What will it be?
MS:
How could I know? Unfortunately I cannot look into the future. But I do not expect anything else but for it to be fine. At the moment it is very constructive and I don’t expect that to change. For once it is quite a good feeling to be able to communicate in my mother tongue, and at the moment we are ‘neighbours’ as our motor homes are right beside each other here in the paddock.

Q: Up until now you have planned your career and image very carefully, but this new phase seems more adventurous. Do you have an idea of what this season will be like?
MS:
Again, unfortunately I am not somebody to predict the future. I believe in this team, and this belief in the challenge is enough for me. I love the competition, and I look forward to taking the chance.

Q: You could always measure the quality of your cars. What are you feeling about the MGP W01?
MS:
I am fully convinced that we have a car that is able to fight for the championship. Where we are exactly is hard to say. This is especially true for me as I don’t have the data from last year’s car.

Q: There is barely a month to go until the season opener in Bahrain. What is your schedule until then?
MS:
We will focus on the elimination of any teething problems, try to optimize the car, start to work on the fine tuning and get reliability by doing mileage. Then let’s see what Bahrain brings.