Johnny Herbert opens up on Michael Schumacher’s ‘darker side’

Michael Schumacher says he ‘never felt good enough’ in 2013

F1 pundit Johnny Herbert has opened up about the ‘darker side’ of former team-mate Michael Schumacher, who he said had a ‘ruthless’ streak. Herbert has also spoken about a time when ostrich racing was more popular than F1 in America.

Herbert spent 11 years racing in F1 winning three Grands Prix and it was during the 1994 season that the British driver was drafted in to be team-mates with Schumacher at Benetton. The German star was just hitting his prime when Herbert joined and won eight races on his way to a first world championship that season.

The pair were also Benetton team-mates the following season when Schumacher defended his title winning nine races with Herbert taking two victories as Benetto dominated F1. Herbert noticed a ‘darker side’ to his team-mate and a ‘ruthless streak’ which would help the German to win five further world championship titles with Ferrari.

“We didn’t always see eye-to-eye,” said Herbert speaking to ICE36. “He was ruthless. But that is why he achieved what he achieved. He had a way that he wanted to go about his racing. He was fortunate that he got the right people around him with Flavio Briatore, Ross Brawn to Rory Byrne, and he took those people to Ferrari.

“I remember Ross saying Michael was the best driver he had ever worked with. Because of that they would do anything for him. And I mean anything. Because of that, Michael gets that motivation, they get the motivation back because he gives it back, and together they deliver. Then it becomes a cycle of success.

“Yes, there was a darker side to him too, but at the end of the day you can’t deny anything he did.” After retiring from motorsport Herbert became a pundit with Sky Sports from 2012 until he was controversially axed last year.

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During this time F1 has boomed in popularity, especially in America with the help of Netflix Drive to Survive behind-the-scenes documentary series. There are races in Las Vegas, Austin and Miami this year, but Herbert says that Americans used to be more interested in ostrich racing that F1.

He added: “I remember going to Phoenix in my first season, and walking in the morning with my wife. We met a couple who were walking too. They asked, ‘what’s going on here? We said we are here for the Grand Prix. They said ‘what’s Formula 1? They said ‘we are here for the ostrich racing’. From what I remember there were more people at the ostrich racing than there were at the Grand Prix. There is a different mindset now which is benefitting everyone involved.”

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