What can we say about Michael Schumacher today? Whenever someone happens to speak about the German pilot in the media, it is mainly to question or give hints on his current condition. (read more here). We can only guess what the life of the legendary Formula 1 champion is because his family is highly protective of him and rarely opens up on any specific information.
Michael Schumacher’s accident shocked his fans and the entire sports world. The German pilot almost lost his life and disappeared from any social life ever since the disaster in the French Alps. But many still consider him the best F1 driver of all time, and most of his records stand.
The German ace reached the top of the podium in 91 Grand Prix and was crowned F1 champion 7 times. The former achievement was already surpassed by Lewis Hamilton. He also equaled the German legend by the number of world titles. Michael’s brother Ralf Schumacher was also a F1 pilot, but not as much successful as him.
We can argue for hours which is the greatest of all time, but beyond any doubt, there was a time when Schumi was on the top of the world. So, let’s stop thinking about Michael Schumacher’s condition and take glimpses at those glorious moments. Don’t expect any tabloid stuff here or a shocking Michael Schumacher now photo 2022. We don’t do that.
The first win
Schumacher debuted in Formula One in 1991 when he was hired briefly by the Jordan team for the Belgian Grand Prix. Michael switched to Benetton-Ford for the next competition, where he enjoyed his first moments of glory.
Well, it took 18 races before the young German managed to win his first. And it happened on the same track that Schumi made his debut. On August 30th, 1992, Michael defeated everyone on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit to stand on top of the podium. It was his sole victory of the season. Still, since the Benetton driver recorded seven more Top 3 finishes, it was enough to end the campaign third in the overall standings above the already 3-time world champion Ayrton Senna.
Schumacher’s first world title
Michael Schumacher has been impressive in his first entire F1 season. But the next turned out to be too early for him to become a real pretender for the crown. In 1993, the German clinched only one victory late in the championship in Portugal.
In the following campaign, he made a statement early on, winning the first four races in Brazil, Japan, San Marino, and Monaco. Tragically, the third of those competitions was the Imola circuit Grand Prix remembered for Ayrton Senna’s death. After that, Michael finished on top in Canada and France to win six of the first seven races. Later, however, he lost most of his advantage but still took first place in two more races – in Hungary and the Spanish-based European Grand Prix. Eight victories were impressive, but Schumi was mostly praised for his performance again in Spain. In Barcelona, the German finished second after severe issues with the gearbox throughout the race.
The first world title, however, came with massive controversy. Before the last round in Australia, Schumacher had only a point gap above his main competitor Damon Hill. The British pilot was dominant in the second half of the season, so the new champion had to be crowned on the Melbourne track. Schumacher and Hill collided in the middle of the race, which forced them both to retire. This scenario brought the F1 title to Michael. Still, he was widely accused of provoking the accident deliberately on the circuit, knowing that this would get him the crown.
Triumph after starting from 16th position? Michael did it in Belgium
The following season Schumi left no doubts about who was the one deserving the throne. The German driver defended his title convincingly, winning 9 of the 17 races. This time he finished 33 points ahead of Damon Hill, but the feud between them didn’t fade away just like that. They collided on two more occasions, yet in this campaign, the clashes were not decisive concerning the crown’s fate.
Teamed up with Johnny Herbert, Michael Schumacher brought Benetton-Reno its first Constructors’ Championship. Probably the most impressive performance by the world champion – the youngest to win back-to-back F1 titles, was recorded in Belgium. The Spa circuit once again was his lucky track. This time Schumacher started from the 16th position to beat Hill in the battle for the top of the podium. The Belgian Grand Prix was a challenge because of the weather changes, and here is one of the races where Michael deserved another of his nicknames – King of the Rain.
Spanish brilliance at the start of the new era with Ferrari
The German champion left Benetton a year before his contract expired to join Ferrari. The team hasn’t won the Drivers’ Championship since 1979. Still, it was not an issue since Michael Schumacher’s net worth rose significantly with a salary of $60 million over two years. And still, it wasn’t only about the money – the world champion took it to heart to bring the Scuderia its old glory.
And he made it, but the success didn’t come overnight. In his first season with Ferrari, Schumi struggled to compete with his main rival Damon Hill, who won four of the first five races and later captured his first and only F1 title. Michael had to wait until the 7th round to get his first victory for the Scuderia. The German was triumphant on the Catalunya circuit, again claiming he was the “Regenmeister” – the rain-master. Schumacher delivered a clear showcase of his ability to dominate wet driving. Later that season, he took two more victories in Belgium (again) and Italy but finished third in the overall standings, way behind Hill and his Williams-Renault teammate Jacques Villeneuve.
It took a long way from zero to hero
In the following three seasons, Schumacher failed in his efforts to regain the world title. In 1997, the Ferrari ace led the Drivers’ Championship before the last round, where he attempted to do something similar to the collision with Damon Hill three years earlier. His main rival Villeneuve got away and captured the crown. But it wasn’t over for Schumi. After the campaign’s end, he was stripped from all of his points for his actions at the Jerez circuit.
Michael got close in 1998 when he managed to win six races. But it wasn’t enough to make him a hero from zero since Mika Hakkinen turned out to be superior in the battle for the championship. The Finnish ace of the McClaren-Mercedes defended his throne in 1999, and Schumacher was far from being a competition. The German suffered a severe accident, breaking his leg in the British Grand Prix. Nearly a hundred days of absence from the track left him out of the title race.
Finally, in 2000, he did what he came for in Ferrari. Schumi won the first three competitions in Australia, Brazil, and San Marino. But in the next 10 rounds, Michael clinched only two more victories (at the European and the Canadian Grand Prix). Hakkinen was also determined to drive his way to the third world title. But in the end, it was Michale Schumacher who achieved it. The Scuderia ace finished the season with four straight wins in Italy, the USA, Japan, and Malaysia. And it was only the beginning of the absolute hegemony on the track.
The fourth F1 crown came four rounds before the season’s finale
The 2001 campaign was a piece of cake for the German driver. He hardly faced any competition at all, winning nine races over the course. Michael Schumacher’s condition was never questioned as he clinched victories in Australia, Malaysia, Spain, Monaco, and France.
And after the European Gran Pix triumph on the Nurburgring circuit, the fourth F1 crown was already within his reach. And Schumi secured it with brilliance winning in Hungary to defend his title four rounds before the season’s finale. Already a crowned champion, he went on to victory on his favorite Belgian track and in Japan in the last competition. It was a year for the record books, but in the very next, Michael reached even further.
2002: The year when Michael Schumacher hit all the records
As we speak about Michael Schumacher today in retrospective, the 2002 season was probably the pinnacle of his career. It was not only because he quickly grabbed his fifth world title, equaling the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, who was the pilot with the most F1 championships for almost half a century.
The Ferrari ace did something unique – he won 11 out of the 17 races this year. Schumacher made it to the podium in every Grand Prix, only once finishing out of the top two drivers. The German ended the season with a 67-points gap ahead of the runner-up, his teammate Rubens Barrichello. Michael was triumphant six rounds before the season’s end, clinching the fifth world title in France. Magny-Cours circuit turned out to be the most successful in Schumacher’s career. In 2002, he took his 6th win in the French Grand Prix, adding two more after that.
2003: Schumi overcame a family tragedy on the way to the sixth world title
The following season brought much more significant challenges to the Formula One dominator. The German failed to win any of the initial three races, giving Kimi Raikkonen a substantial advantage at the top of the standings. Anyway, Schumi hit three consecutive victories starting from San Marino. Michael entered the Imola circuit competition despite the death of his mother, Elisabeth, a few hours before the start. The Ferrari ace overcame the family tragedy to take the first of six wins throughout the campaign.
So, before the last round in Japan, Schumi only needed a point to stay in front of Raikkonen in the Drivers’ Championship. The Scuderia ace finished 8th, which according to the new scoring system, was enough for him. Michael Schumacher clinched his sixth world title to become the most decorated F1 champion of all time at that moment.
New records were set by Schumacher in Hungary and Japan
Michael Schumacher’s fifth straight world title with Ferrari and seventh overall – both Formula One records at the time, was easily achieved. The German driver dominated the whole 2004 campaign, and his triumph was never put into question.
The Ferrari whiz won the first five races in Australia, Malaysia, Bahrain, San Marino, and Spain. After 13 rounds, Schumi was 12 times victorious, adding first places in the European Grand Prix (in Germany) and on the Canadian, the US, British, and German circuits. A new record was set on Hungaroring – Michael reached for his 12th win of the season there, breaking his own top achievement of 11 victories in a single year (2002). However, this milestone was soon beaten when the German pilot won the penultimate competition of the F1 championship in Japan. His record 13 wins in a season were equaled by his compatriot Sebastian Vettel in 2013.
The last win of Michael Schumacher
Well, there is no everlasting reign. And so, the dominant era of Michael Schumacher came to an end in 2005, when Fernando Alonso replaced him on the F1 throne. The following season, his ultimate with Ferrari, the German was a title contender again for one last time.
And he was not far from the eighth world title, clinching seven victories during the 2006 campaign. The last win, 91th in Schumi’s career and Formula One record at the time, was achieved in China. However, eventually, Alonso finished ahead of the German with a 13-points advantage.
This was goodbye for the legendary pilot. He returned shortly in 2010, but the new generation was ruling already. The 7-time world champion quit forever in 2012. One year later, Michael Schumacher’s accident made it impossible to wait for another return. But what he did on the track was enough to be remembered for a century.
What happened to Michael Schumacher is sad, but sometimes life is cruel. Now it’s up to his son Mick Schumacher to continue the family’s legacy. The 23-years old is currently racing in Formula 1 for Haas. It’d be difficult to reach his father’s heights, but seeing him in the sport is likable. We wish him good luck!
Is Michael Schumacher alive? Yes, he’s still alive, but struggling a lot. We continue to pray for him.
Photo: Michael Cooper / ALLSPORT
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