'My problem was not Michael, it was Flavio' | india | Hindustan Times
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'My problem was not Michael, it was Flavio'

india Updated: Sep 05, 2011 00:28 IST
Vinayak Pande

It doesn't take much to get three-time Formula 1 race winner Johnny Herbert to talk about his illustrious former teammate. Herbert, who is to be the drivers' representative on the stewards' panel for the Indian Grand Prix and raced in the 'Legends' category of the Volkswagen Scirocco R Cup, set the record straight about his relationship with Michael Schumacher when the two were teammates at Benetton from the end of 1994 to 1995.

“My problem wasn't Michael,” said Herbert. “It was Flavio (Briatore).” Herbert spoke of the difficulty in getting a little extra help from the former Benetton team principal, who is now infamous for asking Nelson Piquet to deliberately crash in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to help his Renault teammate Fernando Alonso.

“Whenever Michael asked Flavio if he could have a couple of extra days of testing, Flavio wouldn't have a problem," said Herbert. “If it was me, he would just say that it wasn't possible.”

Herbert does count himself lucky, however, that he raced in F1 at a time when a driver was allowed extensive testing (team principals permitting) and spoke of the struggles the new generation of drivers, including those from India were facing due to limited pre-season testing and no in-season testing.

“Well, they have these sophisticated simulators nowadays but not every driver can afford them,” said Herbert. “Just look at Karun (Chandhok) and Narain (Karthikeyan). They don't get any track time and then they're expected to get in the car and be fast. It doesn't work like that.”

The writer's trip has been sponsored by Volkswagen