Motor Racing: Schumacher a `prima donna'

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Ron Walker, chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, labelled Michael Schumacher as an overpaid "good-looking prima donna" yesterday in the acrimonious build-up to Sunday's grand prix in Melbourne.

Walker began his verbal assault on the Ferrari driver on Monday after the German had apparently criticised the Albert Park circuit. Yesterday he appeared on Australian television backing his description of the double world champion who, he said, was scared of Jacques Villeneuve of Canada winning this year's title race. Schumacher, who is on holiday in Queensland, did not respond to Walker's tirade.

"I expect better from a sportsman of Schumacher's calibre, who I believe earns in excess of $30m [pounds 19m] a year, than to blame our world-class circuit with six passing spots - more than most tracks in the world," he said.

Schumacher had been quoted on Monday as saying the Albert Park track was "nothing special" and could be improved both with greater safety measures and better overtaking opportunities.