Schumacher family plan legal action over AI ‘interview’

Seven-times F1 champion Michael Schumacher has not been seen in public since a 2013 brain injury.

Seven-times F1 champion Michael Schumacher has not been seen in public since a 2013 brain injury. Photo: Getty

Michael Schumacher’s family are planning legal action against a German magazine over an “interview” with the seven-time Formula One world champion that was generated by artificial intelligence.

The Ferrari great has not been seen in public since he suffered a serious brain injury in a skiing accident on a family holiday in the French Alps in December 2013.

The family has guarded Schumacher’s privacy closely since. Access to the 54-year-old is limited to those closest to him and little information given about his condition.

This week, the latest edition of Die Aktuelle ran a front cover with a picture of a smiling Schumacher and the headline promising “Michael Schumacher, the first interview”.

“No meagre, nebulous half-sentences from friends,” the tabloid promised in an article titled “My life has totally changed”.

“Answers from him! By Michael Schumacher, 54!”

The article referred to Schumacher’s injuries, and the careers of his children Mick and Gina. Only at the end did it confess the supposed quotes had been produced by AI.

Schumacher’s fans have blasted the stunt, labelling it “disgraceful”.

“What an incredibly cruel thing to do to his family, absolute scumbag behaviour,” motorsport writer Hazel Southwell tweeted.

Motor-racing publication PlanetF1 said “absolutely zero respect [had been] shown to the Schumacher family”.

“Who on Earth would think this was a good idea?” it wrote.

German media expert Boris Rosenkranz was also critical.

“This story here is a particularly remarkable cheeky, even for Die Aktuelle,” he wrote.

“You can’t hide the calculation to give the readership the feeling that Michael Schumacher might be talking about his physical condition.”

Asked to comment on the article on Wednesday (local time), a Schumacher family representative pointed to published reports of legal action.

Little is known about the star driver’s current health. In 2019, friend and former Ferrari F1 team principal Jean Todt said he was awake and watching racing on TV.

A Netflix documentary on Schumacher’s life, including interviews with his immediate family, was released in 2021. It included no updates on his health.

“We live together at home. We do therapy. We do everything we can to make Michael better and to make sure he’s comfortable, and to simply make him feel our family, our bond,” the motor-racing great’s wife Corinna told the doco.

“We’re trying to carry on as a family, the way Michael liked it and still does. And we are getting on with our lives.

“Private is private, as he always said. It’s very important to me that he can continue to enjoy his private life as much as possible.

Michael always protected us, and now we are protecting Michael.”

Schumacher’s son Mick is the Mercedes reserve driver in Formula One, after losing his seat at Haas at the end of last season.

-with AAP

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