Michael Schumacher now remains out of the spotlight since a skiing accident left him in a coma in December 2013, and his health is a closely guarded secret by his family.

“Unfortunately, I’ve never raced in the same team, it would have been useful to see his telemetry,” Fisichella said to La Gazzetta dello Sport. 

“But we shared so many great moments at races and with the drivers’ national team.

“Sometimes he would get out of the car or finish a football match and he didn’t even seem to have sweated.

“He was a great football fan and we regularly kicked a ball together. As a colleague, he was an incredible opponent, and he rewrote the history of Formula One.

“Having raced with him, he has given me so much, and the few times I came in front made me even more proud because he is a great champion. 

“It is a cruel fate that someone who as a race so often risked his life is badly injured while skiing.”

Fisichella ended his 13-year F1 career at Ferrari, three years after Schumacher had left.

Italian driver Fisichella previously represented Minardi, Jordan, Benetton, Sauber, Renault and Force India.

Schumacher, of course, has the joint-most F1 championships ever (seven) alongside Lewis Hamilton and remains revered by former and current drivers alike.