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Smoking with Michael Schumacher

We all have our personal heroes, and the top Formula One driver has always been one of my favorites
James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
Bill Murray, Nov/Dec 2004

(continued from page 2)

I thought to myself, "Is this really happening? I am speaking to the greatest driver of all time, a man who my son and hundreds of thousands of others believe is part God, and we are standing around like old friends talking about cigars and wine!"

I literally pinched myself to make sure that I would not wake up and find myself in some sort of smoke- or drink-induced dream.

With that, I thought to myself, "Michael Schumacher cannot drink a thin wine. I must find something he likes."

"Let me find something with a bit more body for you, Michael," I said, taking his glass and dumping the wine into a nearby flowerpot.

I quickly dashed into my friend's cellar in hopes of finding something more to the liking of the grande pilota. There I was in a Tuscan's wine cellar, and the chances of find a jammy fruit bomb from Australia were about as likely as finding buried treasure in the same place. I settled for a bottle of Tuscan Merlot from Fattoria di Petrolo. The cork of the wine was quickly pulled and a glass was served to Schumacher.

"What do you think of that?" I asked.

"It's better, but it's not an Australian Shiraz," he said.

The winemaker of the Merlot was standing next to me, and I was sure that he was going to slit his wrists on the spot. He is a hard-core Ferrarista (his 1978 308 GTO spends most of its life in the garage in some state of disrepair) and he kept on repeating in Italian, "Oh my God, Michael Schumacher doesn't like my wine. Oh my God, Michael Schumacher doesn't like my wine."

Luckily, someone announced dinner, and we were all spared what was already a rather awkward situation. I was seated at a small table of eight in front of Schumacher. We spent the night speaking about everything under the sun except for Formula One racing. We talked about normal things that polite strangers speak about over dinner, from the weather to European politics.

After the first course of pasta with mushrooms, Schumacher began to relight his Davidoff. "Michael, if you wait, I will give you a Cuban Davidoff," I said, now clearly under the influence of numerous glasses of non-Australian Shiraz. "Have you ever had one?"

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