F1 racers never lose the need for speed
By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One drivers are a special breed, intensely competitive thrill seekers driven by a need for speed and thirst for adrenalin.
Michael Schumacher, in critical condition in hospital with head injuries suffered in a skiing accident in the French Alps, would not have been the seven times world champion he was without those qualities.
The world of Formula One was praying on Monday for that determination and fighting spirit to see the retired 44-year-old through a greater battle than anything he experienced on the racetrack.
Leaving the grand prix paddock can be a challenge for racing drivers, many of them still relatively young and accustomed to living life on the limit, who must seek their thrills elsewhere.
Schumacher took up motorcycle racing soon after he first retired from Ferrari in 2006, injuring his neck in a 2009 crash. Others, such as Australian Mark Webber who broke his leg while riding a mountain bike in an endurance event in Tasmania in 2010, have moved on to Le Mans.
"Michael loves to challenge race tracks on superbikes and he often excitedly shows his many amazing skydiving pictures on his phone," said the German's former Benetton team mate Martin Brundle, now a commentator for Sky television.
"He's only a year out of the F1 cockpit but, as a driven and competitive person, you can't simply switch off and settle down at the end of a long career, you need challenges and achievements to keep the adrenalin flowing.
"It's not uncommon for racers to survive many big accidents to then be injured in cars, aviation, bikes, on water, or indeed ski slopes. The need for machinery and speed will always be there, it's inevitable," added the Briton. Continued...