Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher is revved up and ready for the Race Of Champions on December 3-4
The German motor sport legend declares race fans have ‘nowhere else to be’ but Düsseldorf’s ESPRIT arena this weekend
Schumacher will partner Sebastian Vettel for Team Germany as they bid for a record fifth ROC Nations Cup win in front of their home crowd
Now that his day job in the Formula 1 world championship is out of the way for 2011, the world’s most successful racing driver Michael Schumacher is raring to go for the next date in his diary: the Race Of Champions.
Schumacher heads to Düsseldorf’s ESPRIT arena this weekend aiming for a record fifth consecutive ROC Nations Cup victory alongside countryman and fellow F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel. And now he is urging race fans to come along and pack out their home stadium as he can’t wait to provide yet more thrills…
“Indoor racing at the Race Of Champions is just sensational,” says Schumacher. “It`s emotion intensified, it is hearing the fans, feeling them – it is just big fun. To me it always looks a bit like a toy racecourse which has become reality. The event is very entertaining so it’s a cool place to go out at the weekend. If you like cars, if you like music, if you like action, there is nowhere else to be this weekend.”
The Race Of Champions is an annual end-of-season competition that brings together the world’s greatest drivers from all motor sport’s disciplines – including Formula 1, world rally, touring cars, Le Mans and the X-Games – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery on a specially constructed parallel track. Drivers pair up for the ROC Nations Cup, this year scheduled for Saturday 3 December, before the individual Race Of Champions takes place on Sunday 4 December.
Tickets are still available from www.raceofchampions.com with prices starting at €19. Sign up for all the latest updates at www.raceofchampions.com, @raceofchampions on Twitter or Race Of Champions on Facebook.
Full Q&A with Michael Schumacher
Can you describe the sensation of racing in an enclosed stadium in front of your home crowd last year – the noise, etc?
"Indoor racing is just sensational. It`s emotion intensified, it is hearing the fans, feeling them – it is just big fun. For us it is so unusual that I really think every driver fully enjoys it. The whole atmosphere is just good."
How much are you looking forward to doing it again and what would you say to fans who are still undecided about whether to come?
"Well, to me it always looks a bit like a toy racecourse which has become reality. The event is very entertaining so it’s a cool place to go out at the weekend. If you like cars, if you like music, if you like action, there is nowhere else to be this weekend."
What part did your fine performances and enjoyment of competing at the Race Of Champions from 2007-2009 play in keeping your eye in and helping you decide to come back to F1?
"It is not so much the competition which makes me come back, it really is the fun, the time you spend with the other drivers. During the season, everybody just has to be so focused, and it is just nice to have time to, say, have a drink together in the evening. Of course, we are all professional drivers so the moment we close the visor we want to win, but that`s really only one part of it."
How much do you think you've changed as a driver in the course of your two seasons back in F1?
"I have certainly developed in the way that I know the team better, am involved more, stuff like this. And, yes, at the very beginning I was probably still a bit rusty. Things are smoother now. I am confident that Mercedes and me will get there."
If you had to choose just one, would you prefer to win the ROC Nations Cup again or finally to triumph in the individual Race Of Champions?
"Celebrating with Sebastian has become a very fun thing to do, so I am totally fine with us winning the ROC Nations Cup again – the problem then usually is the party afterwards which kind of compromises the next day a bit..."
Drivers confirmed for the 2011 Race Of Champions:
Michael SCHUMACHER, seven-time Formula 1 World Champion
Sebastian VETTEL, 2010 and 2011 Formula 1 World Champion
Jenson BUTTON, 2009 Formula 1 World Champion
Andy PRIAULX, three-time World Touring Car Champion
Tom KRISTENSEN, eight-time Le Mans 24-Hour race winner
Mattias EKSTROM, DTM star and triple ROC Champion of Champions
Sébastien OGIER, winner of five WRC rallies in 2011
Romain GROSJEAN, 2011 GP2 Series Champion
Vitaly PETROV, Formula 1 driver for Lotus Renault GP
Timo GLOCK, Formula 1 driver for Marussia Virgin Racing
Timo SCHEIDER, 2008 and 2009 DTM Champion
Martin TOMCZYK, 2011 DTM Champion
Juho HÄNNINEN, 2011 S-WRC champion and 2010 IRC champion
Jan KOPECKÝ, three-time Intercontinental Rally Challenge runner-up
David COULTHARD, winner of 13 Formula 1 grands prix
Filipe ALBUQUERQUE, DTM star and reigning ROC Champion of Champions
Brian DEEGAN, 13 X-games medals including Rally Cross gold in 2011
Travis PASTRANA, four-time Rally America winner and X-Games legend