Michael Schumacher: the career of the seven-time world champion in Formula 1

Netflix’s new documentary Schumacher was released on Wednesday September 15, 30 years to the day after Formula 1 icon Michael Schumacher made his 1991 Belgian Grand Prix debut.

The documentary follows the German driver’s journey from his father Rolf’s kart track in Hurth, North Rhine-Westphalia, to become one of the most successful drivers in motorsport, scoring 91 wins, 165 podiums and seven championships of the world.

Supported by the Schumacher family in rare interviews and never-before-seen footage, the film promises to present a more intimate take on a pilot often seen as a relentless winning machine, also looking at the toll of the ski accident he suffered on December 29, 2013 did. him and his loved ones as he continues his prolonged recovery from the severe head injury he suffered that day.

As the new movie shows, the serial champion hasn’t always been such a secure pair of hands behind the wheel. He crashed his first motorized kart – built by his father – into a tree, but by the age of 18 he had already won the German and European kart championships. He was ready to take it up a notch.

What followed was a remarkable and unparalleled career across Formula Ford, Formula 3, sports cars and, most importantly, Formula 1.

Schumacher retired for the second and final time in October 2012 and was the most successful man to ever honor the sport until Lewis Hamilton arrived on the scene to steal his crown. The German’s seven world championship wins – two with Benetton and five with Ferrari, a feat since matched by Hamilton – saw him surpass Juan Manuel Fangio’s record of five wins in 2002.

Schumacher might well have added an incredible eighth title to his name if he hadn’t suffered a terrible crash at the British Grand Prix in 1999, when he broke his leg while leading the championship. pilots. His absence saw McLaren’s Mika Hakkinen win a second straight title, but the German quickly recovered to return before the end of the season.

His return from injury saw him win Ferrari’s first world title since 1979 and instantly find a place in the hearts of all the Tifosi fans who supported him so passionately when he joined the marquee in 1996. .

Having made an immediate impression on the F1 paddock as a young man, Schumacher first appeared as a true title contender in 1994, after McLaren and then Williams’ dominance ended. The third Grand Prix of this season, however, was one that would have a serious impact on both Schumacher himself and the sport as a whole.

F1 legend Ayrton Senna was leading the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola with Schumacher in pursuit when Brazilian Williams took off at high speed at the Tambarello corner. Senna suffered fatal head injuries, although the race continued as the three-time world champion was airlifted to hospital before being reported dead. The sport had already been shocked by the death of Roland Ratzenberger during qualifying the day before.

After Schumacher’s success at the 2000 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the German broke down in tears at a press conference when asked what Senna’s number of victories meant to him. For a man considered the stereotypical F1 “bad guy”, it was a rare wave of emotion, at odds with his reputation for dominance of the driving machine. Schumacher has never spoken of this moment since.

After winning back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995 (albeit in highly controversial circumstances following his clash with Damon Hill), Schumacher switched to Ferrari in an attempt to revive the famous manufacturer and restore it to its former glory.

Alongside team principal Jean Todt and technical director Ross Brawn, who moved with Schumacher to Benetton, he competed with the Williams duo of Hill and Jacques Villeneuve for the 1996 and 1997 title, but ultimately failed.

The next two seasons saw a formidable battle with McLaren pair Hakkinen and David Coulthard which saw the Finn take the title back to back as the German suffered from his broken leg colliding with the barriers at Stowe Corner at Silverstone .

His return after 98 days marked him, as he secured his place in history by winning the next five world championships in a period of domination for Ferrari like never before.

The 2003 season was a highlight for the Ferrari man as he had two young entrants challenging him for the title – Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya – with Schumacher taking the title with just two points ahead of the first, who will replace him later after his first retirement.

After a two-year battle with Fernando Alonso, then Renault driver, Schumacher announced in an emotional radio message to his team that he would retire at the end of the season. But there would be no fairytale ending as Alonso won the championship ahead of him.

Michael Schumacher winning the British Grand Prix 1998

(Owen Humphrey / PA)

Now a regular on the pit wall, Schumacher was set for a comeback when his former teammate and close friend Felipe Massa sustained a serious eye injury when a spring fell from Rubens Barichello’s Williams and struck the helmet of his Brazilian compatriot, knocking out Massa and sending him into the wall of tires during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009.

But a cycling accident earlier that year had left Schumacher himself with a long-standing concussion and neck injury and he was deemed unfit to compete after taking part in a practice session, the hapless Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella replacing Massa instead.

However, Schumacher made a comeback with the Mercedes team a year later after the German automaker bought Brawn GP. The comeback didn’t live up to its bill, however, with just one third place at the 2012 European Grand Prix in the streets of Valencia, Schumacher’s best result in the three-year stint.

When Hamilton signed for Mercedes towards the end of that year, it marked the end of the most successful driver the sport had ever seen so far.

His subsequent accident while descending the Combe de Saulire under the Dent de Burgin above Méribel in the French Alps, which left him in a medical coma for six months, may have overshadowed his extraordinary legacy on the trail in recent years. years, a bad new documentary Netflix hopes right.

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