Top Gear has ‘revealed’ the identity of its mysterious Stig on the first episode of its new series.
And who was beneath the mask of the white-suited Stig? None other than seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher.
Schumacher appeared on the show to drive the Ferrari FXX, a track-only car based on the Ferrari Enzo which he was involved in developing.
It’s likely that Schumacher only donned the Stig’s disguise as a one-off, and the speculation about who he really is will continue. The first, black-costumed Stig was former Andrea Moda F1 driver Perry McCarthy. The current (white) Stig is believed to be played by several people.
After years of suffering through Schumacher’s grindingly tedious press conference appearances it was great to see him in an environment where he showed a bit of personality. He even got a few laughs – Clarkson asked him “who was rubbish?” of his former F1 rivals to which Schumacher replied: “Ah, you know, my English isn’t so good…”
Clarkson, of course, got a couple of jabs in, adding later: “You have a desire to win – like when I’m playing chess with my son and when he’s not looking I nick his queen. Well, it is the same as running into Damon…”
Sadly, Schumacher wasn’t available to set a lap in the ‘Reasonably-priced Car’, which might have allowed some comparison with other F1 drivers to have taken on the challenge, such as Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Damon Hill, Nigel Mansell and Mark Webber.
But it’s great to see Schumacher in his retirement is game for a laugh.
Update: OK he did ‘do’ a lap, but allegedly got lost…