Arrogance and logic define a champion; BOOK OF THE WEEK

Michael Schumacher: Formula for Success by Derick Allsop (Ebury Press, pounds 17.99 hardback)
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It is not easy to warm to Michael Schumacher. Take his assessment of Damon Hill before the Briton won this year's world drivers' championship. "I am quite happy Damon is sitting in a Williams," Schumacher says. "If there was another driver in this car it might be more difficult for me."

Derick Allsop, the Independent's motor racing correspondent, explains on more than one occasion in this authorised biography that the Ferrari driver's apparent arrogance can be explained by his desire always to speak the truth, to tell his side of every story.

On the face of it, this is an admirable quality. It also ensures plenty of good copy, but there are times when you feel that Schumacher could show a little more generosity and humility.

For example, Schumacher says of his decision in 1991 to race sportscars with Mercedes rather than move into Formula 3000: "It was a gamble to decide on this direction, but I chose the right direction... At the same time, I have always made the right decision at the right time."

This self-belief is no doubt one of the qualities that make him the outstanding Formula One driver of today, as is his fearlessness. "In the car I have never actually been scared about having an accident," he says. "As long as I understand accidents, then it's all right for me."

Accidents to other drivers, however, perturb Schumacher. He reveals that he had to be persuaded to get back into his car after Mika Hakkinen's horrific crash in practice in Adelaide last year, and only did so once he had been convinced it had been caused by mechanical failure. "If I had seen that a driver as good as Mika could make a mistake and the result was so serious, then I would know I could make a mistake as well and have the same risk as Mika."

The book charts Schumacher's career from childhood to the present day and includes interviews with some of the key figures behind his rapid rise to the top. The best passages, however, are the interviews with Schumacher himself, particularly when he is talking about his fellow drivers.

While he has the highest regard for Alain Prost and, particularly, the late Ayrton Senna, there are digs against most of his contemporaries. Interestingly, the team-mate who earned perhaps his greatest respect was Martin Brundle and Schumacher reveals he tried to persuade Ferrari to make the Briton his partner at Maranello.

The account of Schumacher's early years in motor racing is particularly revealing, and the story of how he got his first grand prix drive with Jordan and was then immediately snapped up by Benetton is a fascinating insight into the backstage politics of the sport. It is only a shame that the book is not longer: after the 144th and last page I wanted more of the same.