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Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher in his 2010 Mercedes clobber
German flag
Michael Schumacher's 2010 helmet Copyright: MercedesGP
3 January 1969
(age 50)
Hurth-Hermulheim, Germany
Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari, Mercedes

Debut & Jordan (1991)

Schumacher made his debut in F1 at the 1991 Belgium GP driving for Jordan in place of Bertrand Gachot. He impressed quickly by qualifying 7th, equaling the teams best qualifying that season. However he retired in the race from a clutch problem on the opening lap.

Benetton (1991-1995)

Schumacher had impressed enough to get a drive for Benetton in the following race. HE remained their for the rest of 1991, scoring 4 points in total and even beating his more experienced team mate Nelson Piquet on occasion.

1992 saw Schumacher start his first full season in F1 still at Benetton and although that year was dominated by Williams & Nigel Mansell; the German established his name. He collected not only his maiden podium finish, but also his maiden win at that year’s Belgium GP. He finished the season an impressive 3rd with 53 points.

The Williams team again dominated 1993 and Schumacher in his Benetton could not really compete. Although he did have strong drives, if he finished it was on the podium and he collected another win at the 1993 Portuguese GP. Again he finished 4th overall with 52 points and 9 podiums.

Championship Winning Years (1994-1995)

Benetton and Schumacher dominated 1994 as the German won 6 out of the opening 7 races, placing him in a very strong lead of the championship. Although he went on to win the title; 1994 was marred by two other events. Ayrton Senna’s and Roland Ratzenberger’s death at the San Marino GP, as well as Benetton being disqualified in 2 races for technical violations.

At the British GP, Schumacher was disqualified for overtaking on the formation lap and ignoring a black flag. He was later given a 2-race ban for this and was forced to sit out the 1994 Italian & Portuguese GP’s. Schumacher was also disqualified from the 1994 Belgium GP for an illegal skid block. Despite this and his infamous tangle with Damon Hill at the final round in Australia, Schumacher won the title; his first, with 92 points and 8 race wins.   

1995 saw Schumacher successfully defend his title, battling hard with Williams and their driver Damon Hill. It turned into a bitter rivalry and saw the two drivers collide with each other on numerous occasions. The German won 9 races in 95 and with the help of his teammate Johnny Herbert they secured Benetton’s first Constructors Championship.

Ferrari (1996-2006)

Despite having won the title with Benetton the previous year Schumacher decided to move to Ferrari for 1996, 1 year before his Benetton contract was up. The Ferrari team had been in decline for many years and Schumacher’s first year there was as struggle, but he managed to win 3 races that year and help the team to 3rd in the Constructors Championship.

1997 saw Schumacher go head to head with Jacques Villeneuve of Williams for the title. Schumacher combined with Ross Brawn, Jean Todt and Rory Byrne managed to turn Ferrari’s fortune around, making the team a force again.

Schumacher took 5 victories during 1997 to bring the title down to the final race of the season, with Schumacher leading Villeneuve by 1 point. This lead to the infamous collision between Schumacher & Villeneuve at Jerez, the German tried to force a collision, but hit the wrong part of the Williams and it only led to Schumacher retiring.  The German was disqualified from the Driver’s Championship by the FIA for his actions in the European GP.  

Hakkinen Vs Schumacher (1998-2000)

Schumacher often said in his later career that of all his rivals in F1, the only man he truly respected as a rival was Mika Hakkinen and from 1998 to 2000 saw a titanic battle between the 2 men for dominance. 

Hakkinen took an early lead over Michael in 1998, however by the time of the 1998 Luxemburg GP and after Schumacher had taken 6 victories the two men stood equal on 80 points each. He took 2nd in Luxemburg to go into a final race showdown at Suzuka. Schumacher took pole but stalled before the race started. He was forced to start from the back and a stunning drive saw him climb up to 3rd before a tyre explosion ended his race and his hopes for the title in 1998. 

1999 saw the battle between Hakkinen & Schumacher start all over again. However at the British GP a crash for Schumacher saw him break his leg, leaving him out for 6 rounds of the Championship. Finnish driver Mika Salo filled in for Michael during his recovery. Schumacher returned to racing at the inaugural Malaysian GP and for the final 2 rounds of 1999, but he was now playing a supporting role for Eddie Irvine in his bid for the title. Although Irvine wasn’t able to take the Driver’s Title, Schumacher’s efforts helped Ferrari secure the Constructors title.

Schumacher took a perfect start to the 2000 championship, winning the first 3 races while McLaren seemed to struggle. However a mid season dip, which included 3 retirements on the bounce in France, Austria and Germany saw both McLaren drivers of Hakkinen & Coulthard close up on Schumacher; only 2 points behind. Hakkinen took another 2 victories to take the lead in the title fight, but Schumacher won the final four rounds to take the title, his 3rd Championship, at the penultimate round in Japan.

Schumacher’s Dominance (2001-2004)

2001 looked to be set for another battle between Schumacher and McLaren , however 'The Schumacher Era' of dominance had begun. David Coulthard became Michael's closest championship challenger as Hakkinen struggled in his final season in F1. Even so Schumacher collected almost double the number of points compared to Coulthard. He took his fourth title with four rounds left. He also broke Alan Prost’s record of 52 career wins after his own victory at the Belgium GP.

2002 proved to be a record breaking season for Schumacher, Ferrari had produced a car that was way ahead of its competitors and the German managed to win 6 out of the first 8 races.  

One of Schumacher’s most controversial moments in F1 came at the 2002 Austrian GP, where Team orders from Ferrari forced teammate Rubens Barrichello (who had lead the entire race unchallenged) to move over and gift victory to Schumacher.  Rubens complied on the last corner of the last lap and with Schumacher winning it created uproar and boos from the crowed. It was followed by a staged podium and marked perhaps one of the worst days in F1’s history.

Only Barrichello, Coulthard and his brother Ralf would beat him to the top step all season. Michael won the Championship at the French GP, his 5th with 144 points and 11 race wins.

2003 saw a raft of new rules were brought in to try and stop Schumacher dominance. To begin with it looked to be working, he struggled in the first 3 rounds, but managed to get back to winning ways at the San Marino GP. A head to head battle with McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen saw the season go right down to the final round in Japan, but Michael managed to cross the line and record his record breaking 6th World title.

2004 was an even greater record-breaking season for Schumacher, who won 12 races of the first 13 rounds. His teammate Rubens Barrichello was his nearest rival. But team orders at Ferrari were never going to make it a real fight and at the Belgium GP Schumacher claimed his 7th World title.

Final Year’s (2005-2006)

2005 proved to be a very difficult season for the German, the Ferrari was not up to scratch and Michael struggled to finish in the points let alone on the podium. A mid season up turn saw him finish a lucky 2nd in Canada. While his only victory of 2005 came at the highly controversial United States GP, where only the 6 Bridgestone shod cars competed. The German did manage to salvage 3rd overall but was beaten by Alonso & Raikkonen.

2006 would be Schumacher’s final season in F1 and his hopes for winning a final Championship looked slim with Fernando Alonso dominating. More controversy followed for Schumacher at the 2006 Monaco GP, in which he deliberately parked is Ferrari at La Rascasse during qualifying in order to block other cars. He was quickly stripped of his pole position and set to the back of the grid. 

Despite all this strong results including 7 race wins brought the championship alive. With 2 races to go there was just 4 points in it. However an engine failure at the Japanese GP ended any real hope of the title. However with 7 World titles and 91 race wins to his name, Michael Schumacher’s legacy in F1 had well and truly been set.  

Possible Return

In 2009 with Felipe Massa injured after his crash in qualifying for the Hungarian GP Schumacher looked set to step back into a Ferrari for a sensational return to racing in F1. However an injury to his neck he sustained earlier in the year whilst bike racing scuppered any hope of a return. 

Mercedes GP (2010) - The Return

However rumors did not go away there. Rumours also linked him to new team Mercedes GP for a 2010 race seat. The rumour turned out to be true and Schumacher signed initially a 3 year deal to make a sensational return to F1 driving for Mercedes GP. This will also see Schumacher re-united with Ross Brawn, the man behind Schumacher's world titles.



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