Michael Schumacher’s ex-teammate speaks out on stricken star’s condition after shock AI-generated ‘interview’ scandal | The Sun

MICHAEL Schumacher's ex-teammate Johnny Herbert has spoken out about the stricken F1 star's condition after a ghoulish AI-generated "interview with the legend" sparked outrage around the world.

German magazine Die Aktuelle was slammed for its recent front cover which claimed to feature the 54-year-old's "first exclusive interview" since his horror skiing accident almost a decade ago

It promises not "half-sentences from friends" but "the incredible interview" with the F1 star including "redeeming answers to the most burning questions that the whole world has been asking for so long".

But only at the end of the piece does it reveal that the article was actually generated by an AI chatbot.

The piece sparked a furious reaction from Schumacher's family with a spokesperson confirming to news agency Reuters that they are taking legal action against the publication.

Now former F1 teammate turned TV pundit Johnny Herbert has spoken for the first time since the AI chat, branding the German magazine's actions "appalling".


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Schumacher, who won seven world championships during his dazzling career, regularly raced with the British racing driver and the pair were teammates for the now-defunct Benetton between 1994 and 1995.

Speaking to Ice 36, Johnny said: "That German magazine interview was appalling. This is the modern, mad world of AI and how dangerous it can be.

"That was a prime example of using it in completely the wrong way."

He also spoke about the F1 star's condition following his skiing accident in the French Alps in December 2013 and said he understood the world's "fascination" with the racing legend.

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Schumacher has not been seen in public since his accident, and his family has carefully guarded his privacy at his home in Switzerland.

Johnny added: "I can understand the fascination with Michael because it is a story that has not had an ending yet.

"There is an endless fascination about Michael. I don’t have any contact with the family. It is all kept very tight."

The former F1 driver also shed light on his relationship with the "ruthless" German who went on to race for Ferrari and Mercedes.

He said: "We didn’t always see eye-to-eye. He was ruthless. But that is why he achieved what he achieved.

"He had a way that he wanted to go about his racing. He was fortunate that he got the right people around him with Flavio Briatore, Ross Brawn to Rory Byrne, and he took those people to Ferrari.

"I remember Ross saying Michael was the best driver he had ever worked with. Because of that they would do anything for him. And I mean anything.

"Because of that, Michael gets that motivation, they get the motivation back because he gives it back, and together they deliver. Then it becomes a cycle of success."

Johnny says he still remembers Michael's "standout performance in Ferrari" during a particularly soggy race day in Spain.

He said: "I still remember what for me was his standout performance in the Ferrari, in the wet in Barcelona in 1996. It was his first victory for Ferrari.

"It was a stunning drive in torrential rain and why he was thereafter called the ‘Regenmeister’, the Rainmaster. It was an unbelievable drive.

"Yes, there was a darker side to him too, but at the end of the day you can’t deny anything he did."


The "world exclusive" by the German mag saw the world champion "open up" on his life after suffering a catastrophic brain injury.

In the piece, which the magazine claims "sounded deceptively real," Schuey is purported to say: "My life has changed completely since [the accident]. That was a horrible time for my wife, my children and the whole family."

The article continues: "I was so badly injured that I lay for months in a kind of artificial coma because otherwise, my body couldn't have dealt with it all."

In the ghoulish piece, the AI chatbot even goes into the racer's supposed recovery.

Asked how he feels today, the AI says: "Much better than years ago. With the help of my team, I can even stand on my own again and even walk a few steps slowly.

"My family and children have been a blessing to me and without them, I would not have been in business.

"Of course, they are very sad about how everything went, but unfortunately, that's life and I just have to endure the fact that things sometimes go badly.

"They support me and stand fast at my side."

Many others have slammed the piece as distasteful and insensitive.

German blogger Boris Rosencrantz, who writes for news site Ubermedien, hit out at the Funke media group which owns Die Aktuelle.

He wrote: "The Funke media group actually wants the rubbish it dumps into the world to be understood as a journalistic product.

"Die Aktuelle delivers 'exciting and, above all, serious reports about stars, VIPs and the nobility,' writes the publisher.

"But how you type something like that on a website without it immediately seeing red is unclear."

This is not the first time that Die Aktuelle has got into hot water with the Schumachers.

In 2014, the magazine posted a photo of Michael and his wife Corinna on his front cover with the headline "Awake".

But the article was in fact about other people who have awoken from comas in the past.

The following year, the magazine ran a front cover saying that Corinna had a "new love", only for the piece to actually be about the couple's daughter, Gina.

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Die Aktuelle later won a legal case against the Schumachers over the piece.

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