Schumacher fine-tunes the Ferrari California (w/VIDEO)

Click above for high-res gallery of Schumacher and the California

Michael Schumacher may have departed the Formula One grid, but he has most definitely not left Ferrari. The seven-time world champion, widely credited with building Ferrari into the power house it is today, still comes around the paddock at various tracks around the world to give the Prancing Horse's latest creations – whether racing cars or road vehicles – a healthy dose of Schuey-trademarked punishment.

After having been intimately involved with the development of the 430 Scuderia – proclaimed as the fastest road-going Ferrari ever to lap the company's private circuit – Schumacher returned to Fiorano to give his input on Maranello's newest offering, the California. And while his opinion is hardly impartial, he certainly knows what he's talking about and his impressions were glowing. Speaking to the conference of Ferrari dealers assembled at the factory, Schumacher proclaimed that "the Ferrari California is very much a Grand Tourer in terms of its usability and high level of interior comfort, it is still surprisingly sporty and fun to drive under any kind of conditions." You could try arguing with him, but you'd probably end up losing – like most of the drivers that have ever tried to go wheel-to-wheel with the most decorated driver in history. Click below to view the images in our high-resolution gallery, and follow the jump to view the video and press release.

[Source: Ferrari]

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Michael Schumacher completes development testing on Ferrari California

Maranello 23rd July 2008 - Michael Schumacher is currently completing the track and road development stages of the Ferrari California, the new 8-cylinder model due to be officially unveiled at the Paris International Motor Show on October 2nd this year.

The seven times Formula 1 world champion has been involved in the development of the latest Prancing Horse road car since its inception and has worked with Ferrari's team of engineers, technicians and test-drivers on honing the car in general, but more specifically on optimising its performance parameters.

"I have to say that, as with the 430 Scuderia, participating in the project since the very beginning has been really fascinating and great fun," commented Schumacher at the end of a test session at the Fiorano circuit. "Although the cars are very different, they both offer absolutely unique driving pleasure because of the inherently sporty character of all of the cars that come out of Maranello. The 430 Scuderia is, of course, a more extreme model with a focus on absolutely cutting-edge performance. However, although the Ferrari California is very much a Grand Tourer in terms of its usability and high level of interior comfort, it is still surprisingly sporty and fun to drive under any kind of conditions."

Schumacher also recently addressed the Ferrari dealer convention in Maranello and explained the differences between the two 8-cylinders: "They were designed to meet different requirements: the 430 Scuderia is aimed at drivers who want the very essence of a Ferrari and will get it out on the track as often as they can. The Ferrari California, on the other hand, is designed for everyday use and for weekends away whilst still guaranteeing all of the emotional impact that only an authentic Ferrari can deliver."

Michael Schumacher's contribution to the development of the Ferrari California has resulted in a car that delivers extraordinary performance: it can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in under 4 seconds, delivering superb driving pleasure whilst still being exceptionally comfortable and versatile.

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