As Ferrari celebrates its 1000th race this week in Mugello, we decided to explore who is the greatest Formula 1 driver for the Italian squad.

Whilst a mention must go out to Niki Lauda, Gilles Villeneuve, Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, and perhaps Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, there’s only one man that could ever lend his name as the “greatest” for his time at the Ferrari squad, and that man is 7-time world champion, Michael Schumacher

The statistics alone speak for themselves. 

After joining the team in 1996, he would win five consecutive drivers’ titles and 72 Grand Prixs for the team, as well as 58 pole positions and 53 fastest laps. 

In turn it would be the team’s most successful period ever as they would win consecutive constructors’ titles between 1999 and 2004. 

After winning two titles with Benetton, Schumacher made his Ferrari debut in 1996 when the team was in a period of restructuring and employing the likes of Rory Bryne, Ross Brawn and Jean Todt. 

During his first season with the Scuderia, Schumacher would achieve three race wins in a famously unreliable car, then in 1997 he would take five wins and be leading the championship by one point going into the final round. 

Unfortunately, Schumi would be involved in a controversial collision, and would later be stripped of his second place in the championship. 

In the 1998 season, Schumacher would bounce back and have another shot at the title with six wins at hand, however a right rear tyre failure and stalled engine would see rival Mika Hakkinen take the title. 

After three trying seasons it looked as if finally his time had come in 1999 until a dastardly crash in Silverstone would leave the German with a broken leg, subsequently ending his title pursuit. 

Finally things would turn around, with Schumacher becoming Ferrari’s first champion in 21 years in 2000, a feat which he would repeat for the next four years in succession. 

2002 was a mighty year for the German who would win 11 races and incredibly finish on the podium in all 17 races in the season. 

For 2003, Schumi would break Fangio’s title record after winning his sixth drivers world championship, and in 2004 he would follow that up by winning 13 of the 18 races that season to take his seventh and final championship. 

2005 and 2006 would see the aging superstar fall victim to the young and feisty Fernando Alonso, with the latter season leading to the German’s departure from the Maranello team. 

Schumacher and Ferrari were one. A dream team and partnership created through the perfect storm of an incredibly talented and hardworking driver, backed with a strong technical team led by Ross Brawn, with a ruthless form of management implemented by Jean Todt. 

At his peak, Schumacher’s driving ability was second to none. No Ferrari driver had ever worked as hard as the German did, with his meticulous attention to detail and his supreme natural talent, he was a force to be reckoned with. 

The combination of Schumacher and the powerful Ferrari team were u stoppable on their quest for endless improvement. 

Until the recent resurgence of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, the partnership of Schumacher and Ferrari was the most dominant display F1 had ever seen, with many believing the records he had set would never be broken. 

Words by Jordy Gray.

Do you agree that Michael Schumacher is the greatest Ferrari driver ever? If not, who would you have chosen? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and subscribe to Crash F1.

 

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