WINNING TEAM: Ross Brawn (right) was instrumental in Michael Schumacher's success at Ferrari, where the German won five consecutive F1 titles. Image: AFP
London - 25 years after observing the meteoric start to the most successful career in Formula 1 history, Ross Brawn says the fate of Michael Schumacher is nothing short of "tragic".
Brawn, who was Schumacher's technical boss at Benetton, Ferrari and Mercedes, says he was already in talks with the then 22-year-old when, at Spa, he stunned the F1 world by qualifying seventh on debut in a Jordan.
"We knew we had to have him"
Brawn told the German broadcaster RTL in a forthcoming interview: "We (Brawn and Benetton's Tom Walkinshaw) knew Michael from sports cars and so we had a head start over the other teams. We knew that we wanted to have him."
At Benetton and then again at Ferrari, Schumacher won all of his record seven titles overseen by Brawn, but they were unable to recreate that success when the famous German then returned to F1 between 2010 and 2012.
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Brawn said: "We had no doubts about his competitiveness, but it frustrates me that we were not able to give him the car that he deserved.
"Nevertheless, Michael was a part of the process of Mercedes becoming a world championship team."
Speaks to Schumacher's family
As for Schumacher's post-retirement fate, including his mysterious current physical condition as the result of a late 2013 skiing fall, Brawn said: "I am in contact with the family.
Brawn said: "I've seen Michael since the accident several times. We pray every day that he is making progress. Life can be cruel."
He added: "He's such a wonderful person, and what happened to him is tragic."