SEPANG: As a journalist covering Formula One, Sabine Kehm once had the impression that Michael Schumacher was a shy and cautious man who did not let his guard down. Her first day as his media consultant completely changed that.
“I was surprised that he was so nice – this man that I had described before as 'distant.' And I told him that a few days later and he told me to wait a bit longer as the season went on when he would be tired and (his temper) much shorter,” she said.
She first met him in January during the team’s annual visit to the ski resort Madonna Di Campiglio in Switzerland, where they usually make the first public appearance as the season’s opening race approaches.
“He is down to earth and I’m lucky to be working with him. We have a good working relationship. He is very straight and when he says something he means it. It is much easier to work with people like him because you can count on what he says,” she said.
Kehm, a former sports journalist, is in her fourth year as Schumacher’s media manager and personal press officer.
She handles all media related matters for the five-time world champion. This includes arranging interviews, his homepage, public appearances and sponsor meetings.
Her job at Formula One circuits like in Malaysia normally begins early and ends at 10pm.
She goes for a much deserved break in November when she goes back to Berlin, Germany where she sleeps a lot and meet up with friends.
On her impressions of Malaysia, Kehm said that she found people here friendly and polite.
The 38-year-old German took some two weeks to decide on taking the job, which was offered to her by Schuey’s manager Willie Weber.
Kehm has also written a book on the driver entitled “Schumacher. Driving Force”, which features the private moments of Schumacher such as when he is testing or with wife, Corrina. The pictures were taken by Michel Comte and all proceeds go to Unesco.
During race weekends, his time with the media is usually made up of press conferences or meetings and interviews with television crews and questions are usually race-related.
“During that time, he is so much into the race and there is no time to do major interviews. Those are normally done during testing, which usually begins a week after the race,” she added.
One of the more unforgettable experiences for her was when the racing ace broke down and cried when he won in Monza, Italy in 2000.
“He broke down in tears and that was really moving. Because he is a strong guy both physically and mentally. And now he was weak and distraught, not knowing how to behave (when he won),” she said.
Asked whether her friends were jealous of her job, Kehm said that they were more angry than jealous because she could not attend functions with them.