The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Schumiís bid for Swiss retreat

Geneva: Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher is reportedly ready to pay $14 million for a lakeside mansion complete with an underground garage for 19 cars.

The move comes 18 months after Schumacher was forced to give up plans to build a house in bucolic surroundings on the other side of Switzerland after his bid to convert agricultural land hit opposition from environmental groups.

The German motor racing starís palatial new home will be built on a 13 hectare plot of land he bought last year only a few miles from his current country villa, offering a stunning view of Lake Geneva with an alpine backdrop lit by the setting sun, Le Matin aid.

The house in the grounds will be demolished to make way for a mansion with a turret, five floors ó two of them underground ó and a 720 square metre footprint, it added.

The reported plans indicate that apart from size, the five-time Formula One championís family will be able to enjoy the standard trappings of stardom such as a 20 metre indoor pool, a hammam and sauna.

The principal quirks appear to be an interior climbing wall and a large gym to keep up Schumacherís legendary fitness, as well as a 63 square metre trophy room, which is said to reach under the lake.

Visitors and domestic staff should be able to enjoy a substantial outhouse in the grounds of the property by the western town of Gland, near Geneva.

Schumacherís new neighbour in 2006 will be biotechnology billionaire and Americaís Cup holder Ernesto Bertarelli, provided planning permission goes smoothly.

But before he started planning villas in scenic Switzerland, Schumacher used to live in the grimy, working-class town of Kerpen. It has been over a decade that the superstar left for glamorous tax exiles, like Monaco, and later Switzerland, partly to avoid high German taxes.

Kerpen, a once-seedy town of 63,000 people lies 30 km west of Cologne near an abandoned open pit mine. Shrugging off the loss of its coal mining industry, Kerpen has reinvented itself in recent years as a centre for transportation and logistics ó and, of course, as Schumacherís home town.

However, the ace has still got a lot of connections to Kerpen. His father lives there, his friends are there and his roots are there.

Schumacherís name is everywhere in Kerpen, even though he pays only a few short visits each year ó such as in April after his mother Elisabeth died. The Kart Centre is on a road called Michael Schumacher-Strasse where the street signs have been frequently stolen by souvenir hunters.

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