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That time Michael Schumacher drove a Ferrari for a jam ad in SA

2017-04-19 09:48

Janine Van Der Post

SCHUMI IN SA: A young Michael Schumacher sits behind the wheel of a Ferrari during a tv commercial in South Africa during the late 1990s. Image: Cindi Harding

Cape Town - Well now here's an interesting story... Did you know that in the late 1990s, Michael Schumacher came to South Africa to shoot a TV commercial to highlight German confectionery?

The advert had nothing to do with vehicles nor F1 but was filmed to promote a popular jam called Zentis, a German confectionery producer. At least there was a Ferrari involved! (Watch the Zentis Schumi ad at the end of the article.)

Cindi Harding, a former SA rally navigator, shares her story and some never seen before images of Schumi in Cape Town taken more than two decades ago.

Cindi Harding shares her story

Harding says: "In the late nineties I had a company called Exoticar, vehicles for productions. I supplied picture and action vehicles to the then growing film industry in Cape Town. I was asked to supply a classic car and a convertible Ferrari for a jam commercial (Zentis) involving Michael Schumacher.  

"They chose a beautiful green Jaguar 150 XK droptop and a Ferrari 355 Spyder. On the first day of the shoot we had all signed confidentiality agreements and the shoot location was a big secret.

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                                        Michael Schumacher with a Jaguar 150 XK droptop. Image: Cindi Harding

"Michael and Corina were staying at the then very new Table Bay Hotel, there were fans camped out at the door, which didn’t help them as the Schumacher’s were being flown to set from the rooftop helipad.  

Harding says she had the privilege of driving the Ferrari to set.

VIEW: Cindi Harding's gallery of Michael Schumacher filming a Zentis ad in SA

She said: "There were insurance clauses that Michael couldn’t drive the Ferrari on a public road, so Chris Aberdein (a South African racing driver) was bought in to be the stand in driver. Not to be outdone, he also flew himself to set, so there I was arriving in the Ferrari while Michael and Chris arrived in their respective helicopters."

"We shot at Stellenbosch and Franschhoek locations for three days."

What was Michael Schumacher like in person? 

Harding says Schumacher came across as "shy" but was always courteous and friendly towards her. 


Harding: "I couldn't understand why some people in the F1 fraternity called him arrogant, but really he was just shy.  

"One afternoon I was making a cup of tea at the craft table and there was a bowl of crunchies on the table. He came over to make himself some tea and asked me what kind of biscuits are these, there was me trying to explain crunchies in my best German, his broken English, we ended up settling on ‘daten cookies’.

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"I took the opportunity to ask him what he actually drove if he was really just popping down to the shops to buy croissants, he said a Mercedes C-Class.

"There was a scene with a bunch of kids and he looked like he was having so much fun playing with all the kids. I’m sure when it was his turn he made a great dad.


                                   Michael Schumacher speaking with a group of kids for the ad. Image: Cindi Harding

"It was a great, fun shoot, I got teased because I actually washed the Ferrari on set, and nobody had seen me wash a car before, which obviously caused great amusement for the crew who I had worked with back then.

                                                     Cindi Harding giving the Ferrari a wash on set. Image: Cindi Harding

"And just like that it was all over, very special times and special memories that I will always cherish. What an amazing guy, a true legend."

WATCH the Zentis ad with Michael Schumacher:


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