Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher is the first driver in the line-up for the 2013 Race Of Champions at Bangkok's Rajamangala Stadium on the weekend of December 14-15.
The end-of-season contest, held every year since 1988, brings together the world's greatest drivers from motor sport's main disciplines including Formula 1, world rally, touring cars, Le Mans, MotoGP, IndyCar and the X-Games and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery.
Schumacher has more titles (7), wins (91) and pole positions (68) than anyone else in the history of Formula 1. The German retired from full-time competition at the end of 2012 but he also has a mighty record at the Race Of Champions, having partnered reigning F1 world champion and compatriot Sebastian Vettel to ROC Nations Cup glory in each of the last six years. To rub it in, the pair won ten races out of ten en route to victory last December.
Now Schumacher will aim to extend that run even further, sending out an ominous warning to any rivals standing between him and his 'lucky number' seven: "I am sorry to say but of course we want to win it again! The fact that it will be the seventh title this year makes it even more interesting, at least for me. So be prepared for a hot Team Germany in the ROC Nations Cup."
"This year I am still spending a lot of time on four wheels, but obviously not in F1. I still do a lot of karting as this is my 'old' love, and I have been driving the Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 which was a really good experience. It is obviously different when you are racing every other weekend but I am still quite used to it."
Schumacher takes pride in the 2013 fortunes of his old team Mercedes, which is now a regular F1 front-runner, adding: "I am happy for the progression the team has quite clearly made. It means the work we did in the past years was not bad, as indeed we managed to set the basis we wanted to find to then increase the performance. It is cool to see that the step the team took is probably even bigger than expected from last year to this year, and I think I have good reasons to be happy about it."
The Race Of Champions brings together stars from all over the world and the rest of this year's line-up will be announced in the run-up to December's event. Along with Schumacher and Vettel's total of ten Formula 1 world championships, the 2012 field featured a haul of seven MotoGP championships courtesy of Jorge Lorenzo and Mick Doohan, plus greats from Le Mans (Tom Kristensen), touring cars (Andy Priaulx), IndyCar (Ryan Hunter-Reay), V8 Supercars (Jamie Whincup) and more.
Race organiser Fredrik Johnsson added: "We are proud that Michael so enjoys the Race Of Champions he keeps coming back for more. He may have officially retired from F1 but we all know that hasn't dimmed his competitive spirit. This will be a rare chance to see the world's most successful racing driver take on the best of today's talent in identical machinery. We hope fans from Thailand and around the world will grab this unique opportunity to see this driving legend in action once more."