Saturday, 2 Dec 2023

F1 commentator blames Michael Schumacher joke on jetlag

A veteran Spanish Formula One pundit has apologised for making a gag about Michael Schumacher on live TV – and suggested his jetlag may be to blame.

Antonio Lobato was taking part in a discussion about people in the sport who may be worried about their records being broken during Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Fellow pundits Pedro de la Rosa and Toni Cuquerella joked that top engineer and designer Adrian Newey should be ‘trembling’ with nerves.

Lobato responded: ‘Let Michael tremble! Well, not Michael, he can’t tremble.’

Schumacher sustained a severe brain injury in a skiing accident in December 2013, and has not been seen in public since.

Prior to the accident, he was widely regarded as one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport, and he continues to hold several records.

In a five-minute video posted to X, formerly Twitter, Lobato explained he had thought of Schumacher as an example of a record-breaker, before immediately realising that his phrasing could be misconstrued.

He said his ‘clumsy’ way of correcting himself in the moment came across as if he was making light of the legendary driver’s condition.

Lobato said: ‘I didn’t regret naming him but, at the time of doing it, it was just to look for a reference of historical brilliance and legend in F1.

‘I did say I should have said Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher has a complicated enough situation for him and his family.’

He added: ‘It was simply a mistake of pure clumsiness, of pure inability to express myself correctly, maybe because of too many hours up, jet lag in Madrid, or whatever – which is not an excuse for those of you who didn’t see it.’

Since 2014, Schumacher has received medical treatment at his home in Lake Geneva, Switzerland.

In April this year, a German magazine was widely criticised for featuring an ‘interview’ with the driver that consisted of answers generated by an AI chatbot.

The editor of Die Aktuelle was fired after it was revealed the Schumacher family was planning to take legal action over the article.

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