Seven things we learned from Netflix’s Schumacher F1 documentary

The trials and tribulations of the extraordinary career of legendary seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher are told in a new Netflix documentary. Here are seven things we learned from SCHUMACHER following its release on September 15…
Seven things we learned from Netflix’s Schumacher F1 documentary

1. Schumacher raced with old karting equipment

The Schumacher family came from humble origins, something that was evident early on in the film when it was revealed that Michael used to go on the hunt for discarded karting equipment to use.

Michael spoke of how beating his rivals using old parts provided him with extra motivation and gave him a greater sense of achievement during his early days of competing.

“I fished discarded tyres out of the bin, put them on my go-kart and won races with them,” he explained.

“I was always glad to have won with the worst and not the best equipment. Having to really fight like that was an additional motivation for me.”

Seven things we learned from Netflix’s Schumacher F1 documentary

Struggles for backing were also evident when Schumacher could not put together the budget to fund a season in the German F3 championship.

Convinced by his skill following an F3 test at Hockenheim, eventual manager Willi Weber would offer Schumacher his first professional contract - a five-year deal worth 2,000 marks a month. It would prove a crucial stepping stone on his journey to F1.

2. The two sides of Schumacher

SCHUMACHER lifts the lid on two sides to Schumacher’s life. One expresses the ruthless competitor Schumacher became renowned for in his relentless dedication to succeed and his pursuit for perfection.

But the film also portrays a gentler side to Schumacher, showing off his warmth and affection as a devoted family man. For Schumacher, family was equally as important as racing and that is abundantly clear throughout.

Seven things we learned from Netflix’s Schumacher F1 documentary

Segments of behind-the-scenes footage of family holidays and time spent at home with wife Corinna and children Mick and Gina-Maria are woven into the film, providing a touching account of what life for Schumacher was like away from the circuit.

Family was ultimately what persuaded Schumacher to hang up his helmet for good. Manager Sabine Kehm recalled how Schumacher missed being away from home during his final spell in F1 with Mercedes and said: "What am I doing here? I miss my family. Why am I so far away? I've realised it isn't as important as it used to be. My family is more important now."

3. Senna’s death had a deep impact on Schumacher

One of the most revealing and human moments of the documentary is Schumacher’s realisation and struggle to cope with the acceptance that Ayrton Senna had died following his crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

In one interview, an emotional Schumacher admitted he suffered from insomnia and slept “maybe three hours a night” following Senna’s fatal accident. He also revealed how the Brazilian’s incident at Imola affected his mentality on the track. 

Seven things we learned from Netflix’s Schumacher F1 documentary

When driving a road car at Silverstone just weeks after Senna’s death, Schumacher started fearing that he too could die in a crash.

“I went through Silverstone in a road car and just thought ‘this is a point you could be dead, this is another point you could be dead’,” Schumacher said.

“I thought ‘crazy, you always raced here but there are so many points you can crash and you can be immediately dead’ - that was the only thing I was thinking of.  

“I didn't know what was going to be the situation if I was going to be in the race car.”

4. Schumacher’s suspicions and self-doubt

At one point, Corinna speaks about how her husband remained a shy and private man despite his fame as an F1 megastar.

During a six-week vacation and family holiday following his disqualification from the 1997 championship for taking out title rival Jacques Villeneuve at Jerez, Corinna reveals how Schumacher suffered from self-doubt and questioned whether he could still perform as expected prior to pre-season testing in 1998.

Seven things we learned from Netflix’s Schumacher F1 documentary

It was a side very few people got to see as Corinna recalled: “Michael is very suspicious, he always has been during the initial period until he thinks he knows someone or can trust them. But if he opens up then it's 100% really, all the way.” 

5. Ferrari questioned whether he was the right driver

After winning back-to-back world championships in 1994 and 1995 with Benetton, many expected that Schumacher’s winning ways would automatically continue when he made the switch to Ferrari for 1996.

But Schumacher’s path to delivering Ferrari’s first drivers’ title since Jody Scheckter in 1979 was far from straightforward and proved incredibly challenging. It was a period in which Schumacher had to dig deep and work exceptionally hard to galvanise and inspire the team’s remarkable turnaround.

Seven things we learned from Netflix’s Schumacher F1 documentary

In one of the most surprising revelations of SCHUMACHER, former Ferrari team principal turned FIA president Jean Todt admitted the team had doubts about Schumacher following the initial struggles, saying: “Is Michael the right driver for us or should we have someone like [Mika] Hakkinen instead?”

The German responded emphatically by going on to win every drivers’ and constructors’ title with Ferrari between 2000 and 2004 - adding to the 1999 constructors’ title - as Ferrari and Schumacher enjoyed one of the most dominant and sustained periods of F1 success.

6. Schumacher almost went sky diving instead of skiing

In a heartbreaking admission during the tragic conclusion to the documentary, Corinna revealed that Schumacher nearly decided against going skiing on the day of his accident in December 2013 because the snow was “not optimal”.

According to Corinna, Schumacher considered a last-minute change of plan to go skydiving in Dubai but eventually pressed on with the skiing trip in Meribel.

“I never blamed God,” Corinna said. “It was just really bad luck. All the bad luck anyone could ever have in their life.”

Seven things we learned from Netflix’s Schumacher F1 documentary

7. A rare update on his rehabilitation

Schumacher’s medical condition and rehabilitation have been closely guarded by the family ever since his accident, with very few details made public.

As Corinna explains: "'Private is private', as he always said. It's very important to me that he can continue to enjoy his private life as much as possible. Michael always protected us, and now we are protecting Michael.”

However, an update is provided by Corinna as we learn that Schumacher is still being cared for at home as he continues his rehabilitation from his severe brain injury.

"Michael is here. Different, but he's here,” she says in the documentary film. “That gives us strength, I find. He still shows me how strong he is every day.

"We live together at home. We do therapy. We do everything we can to make Michael better and to make sure he's comfortable. And to simply make him feel our family, our bond."

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