I flew in from Toronto to London and was sitting in Flavio Briatore’s home on Cadogan Square. I had this idea which I had shared with the CEO of Labatts to explore sponsorship of another Formula One Team, Bennetton. Flavio in his Flavio way, ( confident and cocky ), explained to me that he had a new driver and he would be sensational, it was Michael Schumacher. Flavio invited me to come visit the team at the Canadian Grand Prix. Michael was clicking the wins, he had not won his first World Championship. It was my first meeting with Michael, his wife and their dog. Michaels wife explained to me she never likes to fly anywhere without the dog. On the car ride back Flavio asked me to jump in the car with Michaels wife and it was on this ride back to our hotel in Montreal that I asked her if she ever feared for Michaels life? “No I don’t, these cars are so safe now”, she said, knowing full well that each time you race you play with death. The car is a shell to protect you, and when you think of all the fatal crashes you understand the technology that goes into building the fast cars that go zoom, zoom and crash and the driver protected by light weight shell of Kevlar walk away.
Michael lies in a coma, the whole world knows what’s going on his family and friends around him, and the only reason Michael has the opportunity of fighting for his life is that he wore a helmet. Some will say what about the doctors? Yes, that too, but Michael would not have made it off the Alps in France if he did not have that outer shell to protect him.
Naturally others including myself are shattered by the fact that Michael is fighting for his life. It is why the wisdom and words of World Champion Sebastian Vettel after his wins and doing donuts over the radio to his team “enjoy this moment guys you never know how long it will last”.
I think of my two Christmas cards from Team Benetton 1994 and 1995 with Michael and his first two World Championship wins. I get teary eyed. I think of moments standing in the paddocks of the Monaco Grand Prix next to the Ferrari trailer while Michael zipped around on his little scoter. I get teary eyed.
Lets all just say a prayer and may the heavens respond in kind.
As all of you go into the new year, please remember to just enjoy the now, those moments that make you smile, love, kiss just plain life, because you never know how long it will last.by