Michael Schumacher

01.02.2010 Valencia, Spain, Michael Schumacher (GER), Mercedes GP - Formula 1 Testing, Valencia
Birth Date: 
2 January, 1969
Birth Place: 
Hürth-Hermülheim, Germany
Driver Height: 
Driver Weight: 

Michael Schumacher Biography

Michael Schumacher F1 Career Overview

One of the most storied and successful race drivers of all time, Michael Schumacher and his legacy in F1 was expected to remain unparalleled before Lewis Hamilton successfully surpassed his record of wins during the closing stages of the 2020 F1 World Championship.

Prior to that Schumacher’s amassed 91 wins and seven world titles stood well clear of anyone else before Hamilton hunted him down in the midst of his dominant partnership with Mercedes.

Debuting in 1991 at Jordan and title winner in 1994 - only his third full season of F1 - with Benetton, he’d repeat the feat in 1995 before a crushing spell between 2000 and 2004 with Ferrari cemented his status as the greatest F1 driver of all time before retiring in 2006. He returned briefly for a modest three season spell in 2010, 2011 and 2012 at Mercedes.

It has been seven years since a skiing accident left Schumacher with serious head injuries from which he required a lengthy spell in hospital. He has since returned home but his true condition has never been confirmed by a Schumacher family that has worked to retain his privacy.

Nonetheless, the Schumacher name will return to the F1 grid in 2021 in the shape of his son Mick Schumacher, the 2018 F3 and 2020 F2 Champion competing with the Haas F1 Team.

Michael Schumacher F1 Career - Team-by-Team

Jordan: 1991

Few drivers will ever create such a stir on their F1 debut than Michael Schumacher did at Jordan after a mid-season call up to replace the indisposed Bertrand Gachot at Spa gave the German a chance to shine.

A German F3 and Macau GP winner, Schumacher was competing with Mercedes in the World Sportscar Championship when Jordan tapped him up, an opportunity the 22-year old grasped by qualifying seventh, 0.7s quicker than team-mate Andrea de Cesaris.

Though a clutch failure stopped him shortly after the start, Schumacher had caught the eye of the paddock and was promptly ported to the Benetton team in place of Roberto Moreno. 

Benetton: 1992 - 1995

Out-qualifying three-time World Champion Nelson Piquet in all but one of the final races and achieving a trio of top six results, Schumacher unsurprisingly landed a full contract for 1992.

As Williams dominated out front, Benetton was nonetheless on the ascent for 1992 and Schumacher quickly established himself as ‘best of the rest’ in a car, though lacking power from its Ford engine, was nimble and sure-footed. Schumacher scored nine podiums in 16 races, including a strategically astute success in a wet-to-dry Belgian Grand Prix, the scene of his debut a year earlier.

A more powerful Benetton-Ford allowed Schumacher to remain a contender in 1993, even if Williams remained a step ahead and McLaren also posed a challenge using the same engine. A second win occurred in the Portuguese Grand Prix, with eight podiums - all the other races he finished - earning him fourth overall.

In 1994, Benetton hit the ground running with the contentious B194, a car that was agile and turned well, as evident on twisty circuits, but was otherwise considered a handful to drive and still wasn’t as powerful in Ford-engine guise as its Renault counterparts. Despite this, Schumacher adapted and six wins from the opening seven races set him on course for a first title.

However, his season was riddled with controversy. Firstly, rivals were suspicious the underpowered car was running electronic aids and subsequent investigations showed it had a ‘launch control’ system, but the FIA couldn’t prove if it was being used and didn’t sanction it. Years later Jos Verstappen, Schumacher’s team-mate, claimed the car wasn’t legal.

Secondly, Schumacher was disqualified from the British Grand Prix for overtaking Damon Hill on the formation lap, with a two event ban following when he failed to heed the black flag. He was also thrown out of the Belgian GP for a technical infringement. Despite this, Schumacher’s dominance elsewhere kept him in the title fight and he entered the final round one point ahead of Hill, a battle that was decided - again controversially - when the pair collided and retired, handing Schumacher the title.

Schumacher’s route to a second F1 World Championship was more straightforward with the Benetton retaining an edge over Williams for Schumacher to win his second straight crown at a canter by 33 points over Hill.

Ferrari: 1996 - 2006

Seeking a new challenge, Schumacher made a high-profile switch to Ferrari for 1996 seeking to rediscover the Italian outfit’s glory, it having achieved only sporadic race wins over the decade, unbefitting its high-profile status.

While the Ferrari F310 wasn’t capable of stopping Williams’ stroll to the 1996 title, Schumacher’s sheer talent behind the wheel shone through, particularly in levelling dicey conditions, most notably a fondly remembered 1996 Spanish Grand Prix when a deluge pre-race saw him scythe his way to the front before lapping almost a second quicker a lap than his rivals to win.

Two more wins in Belgium - and famously - in Italy assured Schumacher of third in the standings and buoyed for a 1997 title tilt with Rory Byrne - the brains behind his Benetton success - joining Ferrari.

While Williams still arguably had the quicker car, Schumacher was always there when title rival Jacques Villeneuve hit problems, with wins in Monaco, Canada, France, Belgium and penultimate Japan races nudging him in front by a single point ahead of a controversial finale at Jerez.

With tensions already heightened by an extraordinary qualifying that saw three drivers - Schumacher, Villeneuve and Heinz-Harald Frentzen - set identical times, Schumacher led initially before a fast-advancing Villenueve caught him and attempted a pass, only for the Ferrari to turn in on him.

Eerily similar to Adelaide three years earlier - not least because a double DNF would have earned Schumacher the title - the Ferrari bounced off into retirement, but Villeneuve was able to limp home to clinch the title. That wasn’t the end of the matter though as Schumacher was excluded from the entire season, thus cementing his status as F1’s (pantomime) villain.

With Williams’ form stalling on the exit of engine supplier Renault, Ferrari began the 1998 season as favourites but found McLaren as a formidable foe in the hands of Mika Hakkinen. The pair engaged in a fierce too-and-fro over the season, which was ultimately decided when Schumacher’s car failed in the Japanese finale, allowing the Finn to win.

The stage was set for another entertaining battle in 1999 only for an accident during the British Grand Prix that left Schumacher with a broken leg, forcing him out for much of the year.

In 2000, the Schumacher-Ferrari combination found its stride and three wins out of the box set him up for a fairly smooth run to Ferrari’s first constructors’ title since 1983 and his own third success.

The title win would prove the beginning of a dominant five-year period between 2000 and 2004 that yielded a remarkable 47 wins in 87 races, particularly in 2002 and 2004 when he won 11 (out of 17) and 13 (out of 18) races respectively.

It would take until 2005 for another rival to take him on with Fernando Alonso, who was aided by the tidy Renault RS25 and Michelin tyres that were arguably now superior to Bridgestone despite Ferrari’s close working relationship with the firm.

Schumacher’s form waned in the face of Michelin-shod rivals Renault, McLaren and Williams, with his sole victory coming in the farcical United States Grand Prix when all but the Bridgestone equipped cars (along with Minardi and Jordan) started.

Schumacher bounced back in 2006 and went toe-to-toe with Alonso in a season that shifted in momentum between the pair. However, a critical DNF in the penultimate round allowed Alonso to clinch the crown by 13 points.

By this stage it had already been announced Schumacher would be retiring at the end of the season, bringing to an end a remarkable career that had included 91 wins, 154 podiums and 68 poles… that is until 2010.

Mercedes: 2010-2012

Staying closely associated with Ferrari for a time, Schumacher resisted events like the Indy 500 and Le Mans 24 Hours and instead pursued a career in motorcycle racing with Honda, notching up a handful of solid results in the German-based IDM Superbike series before a crash and injury put a stop to it.

He almost returned to F1 with Ferrari in 2009 to replace Felipe Massa, who had been injured by a rogue part of a car ahead breaking off and striking him at the Hungaroring, but the aforementioned shoulder injury prevented him from doing so.

Nonetheless, the offer did begin to spark interest from Schumacher, who was contacted by Mercedes over a shock return aged 41 as part of its new factory team for 2010, which had taken over the title-winning BrawnGP effort. 

It wasn’t an easy comeback for Schumacher who struggled to adapt to a narrower car that hadn’t been developed around him, while Mercedes itself wasn’t able to build on Brawn’s success. In the three years that followed there were modest highlights - a podium in the Spanish GP and at Monaco where Schumacher set the fastest time but would start sixth due to an existing five-place grid penalty.

However, with Nico Rosberg proving the more competitive of the two and Lewis Hamilton waiting in the wings, Schumacher hung his helmet up for the final time at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix after 306 starts.

Michael Schumacher Skiing Accident 

Schumacher would again slip into his famously private life in the year following his retirement and did not compete in alternative events. However, an accident while skiing in December 2013 left him in an induced coma and necessitating months in hospital.

Since then few details have emerged of Schumacher’s condition and he has not been seen in public since, though papers filed in 2014 revealed he is ‘paralysed and in a wheelchair’ though his manager Sabine Kehm says his ‘condition has improved’. Newest reports suggest he is bed bound but his condition has improved in the years after his accident.

In 2021, the Schumacher name returns to F1 through Mick Schumacher who after winning the 1998 FIA Formula 3 European Championship and the 2020 Formula 2 Championship has been picked up by the Haas F1 Team for his rookie campaign.

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