Michael Schumacher is the biggest character in Formula One today. With an unapproachable stack of wins and championship victories to his name, his identity is writ large across the sport.
Media fascination with him is inevitable and it’s hardly surprising that, after more than a decade at the top of the tree, what little time he had for press intrusion into his personal life has worn thin.
It’s a sad fact that in grand prix press conferences these days the most interesting driver in the sport will brush most questions aside and answer them as blandly and inoffensively as possible.
So this officially-sanctioned biography “Michael Schumacher: Driving Force” (written by Sabine Kehm – one of Schumacher’s inner circle) promises a greater insight into the champion then any of his other biographies.
But it’s not very successful.
The book is part biography, part pictorial study, with slightly more of the latter.
Little is given by way of explanation for the photographs that take up over half of the book, and so it’s hard to know what to make of them. Here’s Schumacher pretending to be a cowboy. There he is snuggling up to wife Corinna. Oh look, he’s kicking a football.
It feels like some strange attempt to bring together a vast collection of Hello/OK-type shots, as if to satisfy the public demand for them in one go. Either that, or it’s an exercise in pretentious excess. Whatever, it certainly feels like poor value for money.
That feeling increases when you read the tedious and fawning biography. Schumacher is a controversial figure, but rather than seizing the thorn and making a case one way or the other, Kehm hunts around for a cop-out solution.
On Adelaide 1994: “Discussion after the race were heated because Schumacher and Hill took opposing views of events.” On Jerez 1997: “Michael came into conflict with the changing views about codes of conduct.”
No point of view, no criticism, just a bland indifference to the deeply conflicting views that Schumacher’s actions have inspired over the years.
The text wanders around with no sense of purpose and eventually is replaced by black and white photographs. The most interesting thing about the book is a reference to a young Vitantonio Liuzzi.
Considering the enormity of Schumacher’s accomplishments, and the potential this biography has, that’s extremely disappointing.