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Motor Racing Legend: Michael Schumacher

Posted in Motor Racing Legends by Wheels Near U Team on the November 2nd, 2007

Michael Schumacher Motor Racing LegendAs part of our series looking at the motor racing legends that have lived in the last 100 years we have already looked at Stirling Moss, Mike Hailwood, Jimmy Clark and last week the Brazilian born racer Ayrton Senna. This weeks motor racing legend is Micheal Schumacher the German Formula 1 Champion.

Michael Schumacher was born 3rd January 1969 in Hürth Hermülheim, Germany. Born to a bricklayer named Rolf Schumacher at the age of four was already driving, his dad modified a pedal kart, adding a small motorcycle engine to propel it. Schumacher managed to crash the kart into a lamp post in Kerpen, at which point his parents thought it a good idea to take him to the local kart track at Kerpen-Horrem. He joined the karting club there as their youngest member. Michaels father built him a better cart from discarded parts allowing Schumacher to win his first cup championship at only six years old!

Rolf Schumacher wanted to support his son’s new hobby and took on a second job renting and repairing karts at the track. Michaels mother (Elizabeth) worked at the tracks food stand to further support her son. Despite their efforts Schumacher soon needed a new engine which was to cost DM800 (around £240) and his parents could not afford it. Luckily he managed to continue racing through support offered by several local business men.

Schumacher enjoyed karting tremendously and even obtained a karting license in Luxembourg (aged 12) in order to get around the age restrictions in Germany. 1983 saw Schumacher win the German Junior Kart Championship at the age of 14, from which he continued to win many German and European races. In 1985 he joined the Eurokart dealer Adolf Neubert and by 1987 he was the German and European Kart Champion. Schumacher then withdrew from schooling to begin work as a mechanic, but by 1988 he was again moving up the formulas and started racing single seat cars in the German Formula Ford and Formula König series. He won the Formula König series that year.

In 1989 Micheal Schumacher signed to Willi Weber’s WTS Formula 3 team and for the following two years competed in the German Formula 3 Series, winning in 1990. At the end of 1990 Schumacher joined the Mercedes junior racing program and the World Sports-Prototype Championship along with his Formula 3 Rival Heinz-Harald Fretzen. Although some said this move was unusual, Schumacher was acting on the advice of Weber, who told Michael Schumacher that ‘exposure to professional press conferences and driving powerful cars in long distance races would help his career’.

Sauber Mercedes C11

Schumacher gained victory at the final race of the season in a Sauber Mercedes C11. This victory gave him 5th place in the drivers championship. Continuing with the team for the 1991 Season Schumacher again won the final race (this time at Autopolis in Japan) driving a Sauber Mercedes-Benz C291, which placed him 9th in the drivers championship. That year Michael also competed in a single race in the Japanese Formula 3000, claiming second place.Michael Schumacher made his Formula 1 debut with the Jordon-Ford team in the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix. He was acting as a replacement for Bertrand Gachot (who had been imprisoned for spraying cs gas at a taxi driver.) Schumacher was still at this point a contracted Mercedes driver, but was signed by Eddie Jordan after Mercedes Paid him $150,000. Schumacher learned the track before the race by cycling around it on a fold-up bicycle, which he had brought with him and when the race came Schumacher managed to qualify seventh, matching the team’s season-best grid position.

After this debut race Schumacher signed with Benetton-Ford, to which Jordan was not happy and applied for an injunction in the UK courts to prevent such a move, but lost the case as they had not yet signed a contract. Schumacher managed to finish the season (1991) with 4 points over 6 races.

The 1992 Season saw more negotiations between the newly entered Sauber Formula 1 team and Schumacher. But ultimately Michael stayed with Benetton, finishing 3rd in the Championship with 53 points. 1994 saw a similar outcome for Schumacher with a forth place overall finish (52 points.) Although he did manage a pole position and nine podium finishes.

1994 saw Michael Schumachers first Drivers Championship win. A mixed season, marred by the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Ronald Ratzenberger and scattered with allegations of cheating, and fines. Schumacher raced well although problems with his gear box and disqualifications based on cheating allegations meant Damon Hill managed to catch up. Damon would have taken first place had it not been for a crash between the two that saw Hill out of the race and Germany’s first Formula 1 World Championship.

In 1995 Michael Schumacher won a clear victory for Benetton, with Damon hill 33 points behind at the end of the season. Schumacher then moved to Ferrari, who at this point were considered far inferior to the other F1 teams. But in the following years he turned this around with continued efforts improving the team and even helping Ferrari win the Constructors title in 1999. At this point Mika Häkkinen also became a serious competitor for Schumacher. Three-time World Champion Jackie Stewart has said ‘the transformation of the Ferrari team was Schumacher’s greatest feat’.

The following three years saw three winning seasons for Schumacher, the 2000 world championship was Schumacher’s third, and the 2001 championship saw him finish with 123 points – 58 in front of the nearest competitor (Coulthard.)

Michael Schumacher 2004 Ferrari

2002 was an astounding year for Ferrari, the team who had been a running joke just 3 years ago won 15 out of 17 races and secured victory with six races to go. Schumacher drove the F2002, which is widely considered to be one of the most dominant racing cars in Formula 1.

In 2003 and 2004 Michael Schumacher’s achieved the last 2 of his record breaking 7 driver championships, notably in the 2004 Championship he managed to win twelve out of the first 13 races. The following two years saw the FIA’s attempts to make Formula 1 more interesting, with tyres required to last the whole race Ferrari lost its competitive edge with Bridgestone tyres not competing against Michelin.

Michael Schumacher retired in 2006 to work for Ferrari, picking the next generation of drivers. After the news got out, leading F1 figures such as Coulthard and Lauda hailed Schumacher as ‘the greatest all round racing driver in the history of Formula one’.

Schumacher has since been awarded for his legendary motoring from lots of different motoring bodies, with the Nürburgring renaming its turns 8 and 9 as the Schumacher S, the FIA awarding him their Gold Medal for Motor Sport and he has even won World Sportsman of the Year – twice!

Schumacher is undeniably a motor racing legend, he is often credited with popularising Formula 1 in Germany, has 7 championship titles and countless other records (most career wins, most wins in season, most career pole positions, most points in a season, most consecutive world championships, most consecutive race wins, most podium finishes, most laps leading, most fastest laps to name just a few.)

This concludes this weeks motor racing legend, if you would like to view some classic photographs of Schumacher or read more the click here to go to our motor racing legend gallery or perhaps read some more of our motor racing legends.

3 Responses to 'Motor Racing Legend: Michael Schumacher'

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  1. on November 9th, 2007 at 10:53 am

    […] week we looked at Michael Schumacher the formula one champion who’s long running F1 career has brought him recognition across the […]

  2. on November 26th, 2007 at 11:25 am

    […] Moss the multi talented London born racing character to more recently focusing on the likes of Michael Schumacher and Petter Solberg who have achieved outstanding awards in their individual motor racing […]

  3. ronny said,

    on January 21st, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Motor racing is truly amazing, I enjoy watching motorsports, I even play a lot of games based on motorsports, right now my current favorite game is MotorStorm on the PS3!