Luca di Montezemolo must be kicking himself for having let Michael Schumacher slip away. He has made it known in the past that Schumacher’s value to the Ferrari went beyond his skills as a driver. He was also highly prized as a marquee name who added luster to the commercial brand. This was seen as being a primary reason for keeping the German ace on board in a consultancy role for the team.
Now, confirming a good portion of di Montezemolo’s inevitable fears about losing Schumacher to one of their keenest rivals (both on track and on the road), Michael Schumacher and Mercedes have given us a taste of what lies ahead in terms of a developing commercial rivalry.
In conjunction with the official launch of the Mercedes GP Formula 1 team (which actually used last year’s Brawn as a stand in for the new car), Mercedes have released a new TV commercial featuring Michael Schumacher in a clever piece of GCI shtick promoting their new Mercedes Benz SLS AMG. The car has a definite retro look harking back to the days of the old Mercedes gull wing model of years ago. In this case, the SLS AMG is geared to compete head-to-head with Ferrari’s new 458. (McLaren will release its MP4-12C soon, which is designed to compete in the same market.)
Interestingly, the car is painted in Ferrari red, rather than Mercedes silver, which would seem to be a clever dig at the folks at Maranello. Likewise, Schumacher’s wink at the end of the reel. I expect that anyone within earshot of di Montezemolo when he first watched this advert was probably treated to a few choice Italian expletives.