Ex-Mercedes CEO Nick Fry says he would be “surprised” if Nico Rosberg’s claims that Michael Schumacher played mind games with him were true.
Rosberg partnered Schumacher at Mercedes from 2010 until 2012, during the early days of the German team’s return to Formula 1. After beating his team-mate Lewis Hamilton for the 2016 drivers’ title, Rosberg claimed he learned to play “mind games” from the best – Michael Schumacher. He went on to give an example of such “games”.
“Here was Michael, in the toilet, leaning against the wall looking at his watch and he knew as long as he made it out with three minutes to go, he could just about jump in the car, put the seat belts on and go before losing actual time and ruining the whole team strategy of qualifying,” said Rosberg.
“There’s no options for me. I went for the oil bucket option in the corner. I managed to do what I needed to do but the panic had such an impact on my qualifying.
“While I’m with my oil bucket, the door opens, Michael chills out, walks out and as soon as he leaves from the corner he starts walking faster because he knows it’s like two seconds to go until qualifying.
Rosberg claimed Schumacher would play “these games all day long.”
Nick Fry, who was Mercedes’ Chief Executive Officer until 2013, isn’t so sure about the truthfulness of these accounts.
“I have no idea if that’s true, I’d be surprised if it was,” said Fry.
“People like to characterise Michael as this dastardly German who played all sorts of tricks. And I can honestly say I didn’t see that.
“What I saw was someone who was very good at being a great team player. He was genuinely the person who realised that in order for him to perform at the highest level he had to get everyone else to perform at the highest level.
“And that’s why he was so immensely successful over a long period of time.
“I didn’t see any particular mind games or silliness between the two drivers, in fact quite the opposite. I saw almost a fatherly approach from Michael.
“When all is said and done with Michael Schumacher, I think he’ll be on an even higher pedestal than he is in most people’s minds now.”
Fry went on to explain how he previously worked with drivers who were not as open with their team.
“I’ve seen both sides of the coin. My introduction to Formula 1 was working with Jacques Villeneuve who seemed at that to take great delight in walking to the car with his helmet on, so he didn’t have to talk to anyone.
“He didn’t seem to have much of a relationship with the mechanics or even know who the hell they were, whereas Michael was at the other end of the scale,” concluded Fry.