Former Mercedes man Nick Fry admits while he has no idea if it is true, he’d be “surprised” if Michael Schumacher took the time to play mind games with Nico Rosberg.
Beating Lewis Hamilton to the 2016 Drivers’ Championship, Rosberg told the world that he learned mind games from the best; Michael ‘Mr Mind Games’ Schumacher.
He spoke of an incident prior to qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix when Schumacher hogged the toilet to deliberately throw Rosberg off his game.
“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,” he recalled during his Beyond Victory podcast.
“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.
“These games all day long.”
Fry, who was Mercedes’ Chief Executive Officer at the time, has questioned the validity of the claims as he never saw Schumacher engage in games with his team-mate.
“I have no idea if that’s true, I’d be surprised if it was,” F1i.com quotes him as having said in a Flat Chat podcast.
“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 added: “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 along 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 on an even higher pedestal than he is in most people’s minds now.”
But while Schumacher was a team man, Fry says not all the drivers he has worked with have the same ethic.
“I’ve seen both sides of the coin,” he added.
“My introduction to Formula 1 was working with Jacques Villeneuve who seemd 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.”