Born on January 3rd, 1969, Michael Schumacher is considered to be one of the best Formula 1 drivers in history, with impressive figures regarding the statistics in a career which lasted 19 seasons, but most importantly by displaying essential leadership qualities, relentless pace and an incredible ability to constantly record fastest laps and quick times at ideal moments in Grands Prix. Schumacher is generally considered to be the most complete Formula One driver in the history of the sport and his success is closly linked to Scuderia Ferrari’s dominating period in the early stages of this decade.
He made his Formula 1 debut for Jordan at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1991, but after only one race he moved to Benetton, as Flavio Briatore immedialy noticed his huge potential. With Benetton, Michael displayed an amazing driving level during 1991–1995, as the 1994 season was Schumacher’s first Drivers’ Championship. Next year Schumacher successfully defended his title after an impressive fight with Damon Hill (Williams).
In 1996, Michael joined Scuderia Ferrari, as the Italian team had not won a Drivers’ title since 1979 and gradually helped the team improve over the years. The German driver took key personnel with him to Ferrari and had a significant contribution in ending the negative period of Formula 1’s most important team. With Schumacher behind the steering wheel, Scuderia Ferrari reached unprecedented results, totally dominating the sport during 2000 and 2004, with 72 grand prix victories and five consecutive drivers titles in this period. The numerous records set by Michael, such as the fewest races for winning the title (championship won with most races left), the consecutive victories, the fastest laps, most points in a season, largest championship-winning margin, consecutive podium finishes (19) or hat-tricks (pole position, win and fastest lap of the race weekend) perfectly reflected his great winning desire, speed and racecraft. Michael’s professionalism was Scuderia Ferrari’s main strength and his work ethic, perfect fitness level and incredible ability to engage and mobilize team members were also qualities which really proved his leadership, by building strong relationships within the team.
Schumacher left Scuderia Ferrari in 2006 and it seemed to be a a fitting conclusion to a successful career – but it turned out this was not the end. In 2009 Michael was very close to an unexpected comeback after Ferrari driver Felipe Massa was severely injured at the Hungarian Grand Prix. However, the German driver had also suffered a neck injury earlier in the year, and as a result did not receive medical permission to fill in for the Brazilian driver during the remaining part of the season.
Michael did eventyally return to Formula 1 in 2010, but for the new Mercedes team. During the three years spent at Mercedes, the German driver was not able to repeat the outstanding driving from the Ferrari era, mostly due to a throroughly uncompetitiv car, a series of race collisions and unexpected events which consistently compromised his races.
Michael Schumacher will forever remain one of the most influential Formula 1 figures ever and will always have a special place in the heart of the milions of Scuderia Ferrari fans, for which he has become a true legend. The German driver brought Ferrari’s domination of the Formula 1 competition to peviously unimaginable heights and his unparalleled success will always be associated with the best moments of the Maranello team in the F1 establishment.