Michael Schumacher: The Red Baron
♪♪ [Narrator] The formula, take a few drops of determination, add ambition and a fearless instinct, tempered with calm coolness, and controlled high-speed reactions.
Stir in a generous amount of natural driving ability, that has matured from an early age. Combine precision with sheer determination, include a love for sports and speed.
Add winning talent, and a g-force defying level of fitness. Allow all this to develop in the field. Then garnish with boyish good looks, generosity and popularity.
Finally serve with charm and poise, then you will have a champion, no less, a seven time world champion. This is Michael Schumacher, The Red Baron. A champion that is known to fans and colleagues alike, as “The greatest driver the sport has ever seen,” and voted the most popular driver among Formula One fans.
The man who became the first German, to win the Formula One World Championship. From pedal cars and karts, to high octane Formula One racing, Michael Schumacher became the leader of the pack, acing all in his path.
His fans refer to this German Formula One pilot, affectionately, as “Schumi”,”Schuey”and “Schu”. [Fan] Shumi! Right here! [Narrator] But the red Ferrari pilot, has also become known as “The Red Baron”, in deference to “Manfred von Richthofen”, the famous German World War I flying ace, who also blitzed all in his path.
There’s a certain kind of ritual, that a driver must go through, to get into the racing frame of mind. Schumacher has described himself as “ready to go,” the moment he gets into the car, there’s no need for him to adjust, he is totally focused, and prepared for the hunt of the racetrack.
It is little wonder that the German F1 ace, is known as “The Red Baron.” His ice cool attitude to stress, his dogged determination to take all in his path, and the bright red Ferrari, has meant that the term has stuck.
Born January 3, 1969, Michael Schumacher grew up in Hürth Hermülheim, a large rural community of Germany, near Cologne. This region of Germany, has proudly produced three famous people, all Formula One drivers.
They include Michael, his brother Ralf, and the ill-fated 1960’s champion, Wolfgang von Trips. When Schumacher was four, his bricklayer father, Rolf, modified the young boy’s pedal kart by adding a small engine.
After the young Schumacher, crashed the pedal kart into a lamp post, his parents took him to the local Kerpen karting track, that the legendary von Trips had established in 1961.
Championed and encouraged, by Rolf, his cash strapped father, the youngest member of the karting club, soon had a new kart, which had been cobbled together from recycled parts.
Nevertheless, by the age of six, Schumacher had won his first club championship. Soon it became a family affair, to support the young Schumacher’s racing hobby. Mum Elisabeth worked at the track’s canteen stand, while his Dad took on a second job, renting and repairing karts at the Kerpen circuit.
By the age of ten, Schumacher’s ability on the karting track, had attracted the attention of a local sponsor, who, combined with the help of family and friends, supplied the necessary cash, for him to continue in the sport.
It was not long before the promising champion, blitzed the entire karting field, chalking up victory after victory. By the end of the 1985 season, the German Junior Championship, was his for the second year running.
Now he was truly getting into his stride, with the ’87 season, culminating with his greatest achievements to date. Both the German and European Senior Kart Championship were his.
All this success had not gone unnoticed. 1988 was a big year for the teenage Schumacher. He took his leave from school, began a career as a motor mechanic, and launched head first into Formula racing.
His prowess and winning reputation, at the helm of karts, enabled him to attract further sponsorship, and move into the high speed world, of open wheel Formula racing.
When former hotelier, Willi Weber, a racing enthusiast and car salesman, invited Schumacher to test drive, his Formula 3 car, the results convinced Weber to back the teenager’s career.
This was the beginning, of one of the most successful management contracts, of all time. For the next two years, funded by Weber, he competed in the German F3 series, winning the title in 1990.
Towards the end of 1990, he joined the Mercedes Junior Racing Program, in the World Sports-Prototype Championship. This was an unusual move for a young driver, most of Schumacher’s contemporaries, would instead compete in Formula 3000, on their way to Formula One.
However, Weber advised Schumacher, that exposure to professional press conferences, and driving powerful cars in long distance races, would help his career. Two years later, he stood third on the dais of the German F3 Championship, but went on to win that title a year later.
Finally, Michael was able to show the world, what he had learned in his Kart days. He won five times, and later topped that, by also winning the international races, at Macau and Fuji.
A year later also saw his Formula 3000 debut, where he finished second in the Japanese Series, but it was enough to attract the eyes of many, in the F1 market. With Weber at the helm of the burgeoning champion’s career, Schumacher made his Formula One debut, with the Jordan team at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix.
Despite retiring on the opening lap of the race, with clutch problems, Schumacher had impressed the Jordan team, on his first outing in an F1 car. He had qualified for a seventh grid position, on a track that he had not driven beforehand, he had only ever ridden a bike around it.
This was to be Schumacher’s only race for Jordan, with rival team Benetton, swiftly signing him up for the very next race. Schumacher finished the 1991 season, with four points in six races.
After overcoming contractual issues with Mercedes, Schumacher took his place on the podium, for the first time, at the 1992 Belgian Grand Prix. The race at Spa, a circuit that was to become his “favorite track”, showed for the first time, his winning ability on a wet racetrack.
He went on to finish the season, in third place in the drivers’ rankings, with eight podium finishes. He continued with the Benetton team, and in 1993, saw him win a superb race in Portugal, rounding off the season, fourth overall.
Michael stunned the Grand Prix world, when he was quicker in the Benetton, than Senna was in the Williams. The ’94 season saw Schumacher, leading in the World Championship Stakes, despite the set back from a two race ban.
At the headquarters of the sport’s governing body, in Paris, Schumacher failed with an appeal against the ban. The punishment was imposed by the FIA, after the German driver ignored a black flag, at the ’94 British Grand Prix.
The flag, which orders a car back into the pits, was shown to Schumacher after he broke the rules, by overtaking Williams’ driver, Damon Hill, on the warm-up lap. Schumacher was also disqualified, from the later Belgian Grand Prix, for a technical infringement, and the gap between him and Hill, in the championship table was reduced to 21 points.
Hill stood to close the gap to one point, if he won the two races in the Benetton driver’s absence. This was not to be, with his October win at Jerez in Spain, Schumacher had chalked up 10 wins in 50 starts, and retained a five point lead over Britain’s Damon Hill.
The youngest driver ever, to compete for the world championship, his confidence was subdued, as they went into the Japanese Grand Prix, at Suzuka. It would be nice if this will be the race, which decides the world championship, because this means, the only driver who can get world champion is me, because I have a five point advantage, and if somebody can come out of Suzuka as a champion, it would be me, as I said.
But, I think it’s gonna be very difficult. Suzuka is a circuit which I like personally very much, but as we have seen, we are very tight, with Williams and Damon Hill together, and it’s gonna be very, very difficult for us.
♪♪ [Narrator] With Schumacher leading by a single point, going into the final race of the year in Australia, the 1994 season, which had been marred by the deaths, of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, drew to a close in dramatic fashion.
The tensions had grown throughout the year, after the allegations of cheating had been aired. The culmination of a down to a wire contest, for the championship, between Schumacher and Hill was in sight.
The Nigel Mansell victory at Adelaide, was overshadowed by a crash between Schumacher and Hill, putting them both out of the race, and subsequently deciding the world title.
The 1994 Drivers’ Championship, was determined with Schumacher’s 92 points, leaving him the narrow winner, after a year of tragedy and drama, For the youngest ever driver, and the first German to win the Formula One World Championship, the celebrations were short-lived, as the British tabloid saw that one of theirs had lost, and they went on the attack.
[singing in foreign language] [Narrator] Amid growing controversy, surrounding the circumstances of his win, a subdued crowd met the 25 year old world champion, when his plane touched down in pouring rain at Frankfurt, on his return to Germany.
Schumacher said there were no hard feelings, between himself and Hill, who both had to retire after the crash. Hill had congratulated him, and he did not get the feeling that Hill was bitter.
It would have been better to have won the Australian race, to win the title, as the crash was not a nice way to end it. [speaking foreign language] Schumacher said he had steering problems throughout the race, but did not look in his mirror, because he was concentrating so hard on the steering.
By the time he saw Hill, it was too late to stop, but if Hill had waited, he could have overtaken later. Michael Schumacher offered his world championship triumph, to the memory of Ayrton Senna.
Schumacher, in typical self-depreciating manner, had shrugged off praise to honor the Brazilian champion. He said, “It hasn’t sunk in that I have won yet. I want to dedicate this victory to Ayrton Senna.
I always thought he’d win the championship this year. For me, he was the greatest.” Not to be put off by an international controversy, Schumacher’s hometown of Kerpen, celebrated in typical German fashion on their hero’s return.
A smiling Schumacher waved to 20,000 cheering fans. He was presented with a special medal of the town. For his fans, the Paris-based FIA seemed a long way away. I know that, uh, there have been some investigations, in future situations.
[Narrator] The 1995 season was just as successful. Schumacher effectively defended his title with Benetton, he took Benetton to its first Constructors’ Championship, and became the youngest two-time world champion, in Formula One history.
Schumacher now had Renault power, to match the Williams, and he dominated the season. It was marred, however, by several more collisions, between himself and Hill.
In an overtaking maneuver, Hill took them both out of the British Grand Prix, near the start of the race. Having taken nine G.P. wins, Michael finished the season, to take his second Championship.
At the track, where he began racing go-karts as a youngster, Schumacher gave a demonstration of high-speed racing in a kart, and was just as swift at denying rumors, that he was on the verge of signing a deal, with Italian team Ferrari for next season.
“For me, it is important that I will have a car, and a team that can win the world championship,” he said. “I am happy at Benetton, and many things will have to be right with a new team, if I’m going to change.
I have had talks with Ferrari, but there is no result yet.” The German said he was talking with several teams. Uh, there is no real point to discuss it at the moment. There are four teams available, I have, I have the possibility to drive in, and I gotta sort out between the four possibilities, where I’m gonna drive.
Obviously, I’m, I’m quite happy at Benetton at the moment, so, Ferrari would be a very nice situation to drive in, as well McLaren-Mercedes, and Williams’ team is very successful as well. So, there’s four good opportunities, and I can see, and find out, uh, where I’m gonna drive next.
[Narrator] Having won the Formula One Championship, Schumacher said this was because, he was in the better team, and was hopeful of clinching, the Constructors’ Championship, for Benetton.
My target really, this year, was not just to win the driving championship, uh, I wanted to win the Constructors’ Championship, which is not done yet, and I think if this is done, I feel really released.
[Narrator] And to put an end to any further speculation, on his future, having struck a reported $30 million deal with Ferrari, Schumacher said he was looking forward, to the challenge of driving for the Italian team in ’96, saying it would give him fresh motivation.
Having Villeneuve, Damon Hill in the Williams’ car, Gerhard and Jean Alesi in the Benetton car, myself and Eddie in the Ferrari car, with the certain number of question marks, over all the teams. I think it’s, uh, it could be quite interesting.
[Narrator] When it comes to Michael Schumacher’s life, away from the race track, he is an intensely private man. In August 1995, the F1 ace won again, when he secretly wed fiancé, Corinna Betsch.
The Schumachers also celebrated in 1997, when their daughter, Gina-Maria, was born, followed two years later, by their son, Mick. Ferrari was… was a sort of option, but it wasn’t very serious initially, because when I think about Ferrari at the time, [stammering] what I, what was, were my thought, didn’t finish many races, didn’t win, uh, a lot of times, so, it was.
.. for me, not really a big option, until, I have to say, I met Jean Todt, and our president. When I met the, these people, the story, uh, changed a lot, because with the human aspect, I got to know a little bit more about the team, and my, my choice was a lot more easy.
[Narrator] Ferrari, a team that had last won the Drivers’ Championship in 1979, was plagued by inferior technology, and poor performing crews, when compared to front-running teams, such as Benetton and Williams.
Schumacher’s signing with the Italian thoroughbred, was what the marque needed. And if you’re realistic, and you see that Ferrari didn’t finish 13 times last year, then it would be too optimistic and unrealistic, to say we gonna fight for the championship.
I would like to fight for a couple of victories. That, if I could achieve that, I would be perfectly happy. It has developed something, which I would have never expected, because the initial time being in Formula One, was like you being in a, somewhere in the sea with not one or two sharks, with thousands of sharks around you, and you don’t know which one is the one is gonna bite you first.
Uh, with being in Ferrari, I, I learned that most of the sharks were dolphins. They’re very nice. [Narrator] Described at the time, as looking more like a jet fighter than a racing car, Ferrari’s new Formula One contender, the F310, was their big hope for the 1996 World Championship Challenge.
Combined with a new driving team, of Schumacher and Eddie Irvine, times were changing at Camp Maranello. The new car, designed by Briton John Barnard, was unveiled at a press conference, in the team’s Italian headquarters.
A confident Ferrari president, Luca di Montezemolo, made clear his hope that the new team, would win at least three Grand Prix this season. In front of more than 500 journalists, Schumacher had joined fellow driver, Ireland’s Eddie Irvine, Fiat Chairman and Ferrari’s major shareholder, Gianni Agnelli.
Schumacher held firm in his belief, that he would win the drivers’ title, for a third time, in this, his first season with his new team. The former Benetton driver said, “I am not downplaying my chances.
However, I have to be realistic, we are starting something new here, and I have a very high motivation. In fact, I spent four and a half years at Benetton, and I felt quite empty.
We’d achieved everything together, and I needed a new motivation here,” added Schumacher. I had a chance even to earn more money in another team. Money is one part. I want to be paid, uh, what I feel I should be paid for the job I’m doing, compared to other racing drivers.
[Narrator] In 1996, Schumacher finished third in the Drivers’ Championship, despite the team having reliability trouble causing Schumacher not to finish 6 of the 16 races.
True to his prediction, he won three races, more than the team’s total tally for the period, from 1991 to 1995. The first of these came at the Spanish Grand Prix, where he lapped the entire field, up to third place in the wet, using an uncharacteristically flamboyant oversteering style.
The legendary Stirling Moss was to add later, about Schumacher’s driving in the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix, “It was not a race. It was a demonstration of brilliance.” And by the end of’97, Michael’s bid for the World Drivers’ Championship, was thwarted, when he had ended the season in controversy.
Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve, had fought for the title all year. Villeneuve, driving the superior Williams FW19, led the championship in the early part of the season.
However, by mid-season, Schumacher had taken the Championship lead, winning five races, and entering the season’s final Grand Prix, with a one point advantage.
Fans in Schumacher’s birthplace, of Kerpen in Germany, were disappointed when he, crashed out of the European Grand Prix, and subsequently, out of the running for the Drivers’ Championship.
Schumacher fans were lapping up their hero’s progress, as “Schumi” led the European Grand Prix, and seemed likely to come away from the Jerez circuit, with his third World Championship title.
“It doesn’t come more exciting than this,” said one fan in a Kerpen bar. Another explained, he had nothing against Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, who was Schumacher’s rival to take the title, but he just didn’t want his hero to lose.
But when Schumacher developed a fault on his car, and clouted Villeneuve’s car, as the Canadian overtook him, the fans’ faces fell. “It was his fault,” said one fan.
“It was sad, but it was his own fault.” Schumacher retired from the race, and Villeneuve scored four points, to take the championship. Schumacher was held to be at fault for the collision, and was disqualified by the FIA from the Drivers’ Championship.
Jacques Villeneuve spoke out shortly after the, International Motor Sport Federation’s ruling on the accident. He made light of the decision, to strip Schumacher of his second place, in the ’97 Formula One Championship.
Villeneuve expected Schumacher would have received, more severe sanctions, for trying to force him off the track at Jerez. Villeneuve said it was not a punishment, the FIA let him keep his victories.
But the ramifications of his actions at Jerez, were not to stop there for Schumacher. The FIA had stripped Schumacher, of his runners-up position in the world championship, but failed to suspend him for the collision at Jerez, in Spain, when Villeneuve finished third, to clinch the championship.
If the Canadian had gone out of the race, then Schumacher would have taken the Drivers’ title, for Ferrari. The FIA, announced the decision at a news conference, in the west of London.
The authorities decided that Schumacher did act deliberately, but not in a premeditated way. The exclusion of Schumacher from the 1997 Championship, meant he lost all points while preserving the race results.
With an uncharacteristically stressed appearance, Schumacher said, after the hearing, that he was very sorry for Ferrari fans, and for Formula One in general for what he had done.
It’s, it’s something I, obviously, accept due to a mistake, and, and action has happened on the circuit in Jerez, and, and… I think it’s, it’s, for me, personally, it’s quite a, uh, tough decision, if you see losing my second position, because with Ferrari, to have a second position in my record, it means something.
But on the other side, I have to admit that I, I have done a mistake, and I have done what I did, and I have to accept, and I do accept the penalty. [Narrator] The 1998 season, saw Ferrari’s performance improving throughout the year, with times particularly faster in the second half, Michael regained some ground after the ignominy of ’97, with 6 wins and 5 other podium places.
In ’99, Schumacher’s skill helped Ferrari win, the Constructors’ title, but he lost his chance, to win the Drivers’ Championship, at the British Grand Prix, the 8th meeting of the year, when disaster struck.
Schumacher was flown to hospital, with a broken right leg, after suffering the biggest crash of his Formula One career, at the Silverstone race. He had careered into a triple-tire wall, at about 200 kilometers per hour, after the race had already been red flagged to stop, because driver, Jacques Villeneuve, had been left standing on the grid.
He suffered a double clean break of the lower right leg, and bruising to his chest. Chief Executive of the hospital, David Wilson, had the facts, Michael Schumacher was admitted, to North Hampton General Hospital this afternoon.
He was assessed by the Surgical Team, and found to have sustained, a straightforward fracture of the right tibia and fibula. [Narrator] Schumacher was second, in the Championship running, at the time, behind Finnish world champion, Mika Häkkinen, who had to retire at Silverstone with car trouble.
Ferrari director, Jean Todt, added that Ferrari, has still to investigate the cause of the accident, and admitted the car might’ve had rear brake failure. We don’t know precisely, yet, what had happened.
Uh, probably he had a brake, uh, problem, but we have to investigate, and of course, as soon as we will have further information, we will be able to let you know. [Narrator] Todt made the point, that if it was not for the improved safety, after the fatal crash with Brazilian Ayrton Senna, at Imola in 1994, the consequences could’ve been much more serious.
Schumacher has had a few big crashes in his career, the previous most serious being at Suzuka, in free practice in 1993, the season before he won the title. In that incident, the German’s car flew off the track, at high speed, but he escaped serious injury.
Back at the North Hampton General Hospital, arrangements were made for an ambulance plane, to take the injured driver to the Geneva airport. At the time, Schumacher had a home in the town of, Vufflens-le-Château, Switzerland.
And it was there, that he was expected to start his recovery treatment, at a local Swiss clinic. Motor sport’s governing body, the FIA, announced that further safety measures may be, implemented in Formula One, as a result of Michael Schumacher’s, dramatic crash at the British Grand Prix.
The FIA also revealed that the German Ferrari driver, hit the triple tire barrier at Silverstone at 107 kilometers per hour, much slower than previous estimates suggested. It defended the gravel traps at the British circuit, after leading drivers had criticized their effectiveness, in slowing the Ferrari.
The FIA said the Accident Data Recorder, in Schumacher’s car revealed that the former world champion, first braked at 306 kilometers per hour. At 240 kilometers per hour, the front wheels locked.
By the time he had left the tarmac, the deceleration had fallen to 1.3g, equal to 35.3 kilometers per second. The average deceleration in the gravel trap, was 1.1g.
The speed of impact at the tire barrier was 107 kilometers per hour. The FIA said a great deal of information had been obtained, about the events after the impact, with the triple tire wall, and this would be carefully analyzed.
FIA president, Max Mosley, said that despite huge leaps in car safety, since Brazilian Ayrton Senna died, at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, Schumacher’s head still hit the steering wheel, of his car in the impact.
[crowd chatter and light applause] Less than three months later, Michael made a public appearance, to announce his return to racing, Schumacher told a news conference, that he would be racing for the Ferrari team, and not simply to support his teammate Eddie Irvine’s, World Championship bid.
The 30 year old, looking slightly tired and speaking quietly, confirmed his commitment to racing. In, uh, in qualifying, I’m definitely 100%. I don’t know whether I’m different to before.
For sure, in certain race, uh, condition, it will be difficult for me, if the race goes flat out from the first to the last lap, but, uh, I’ll have to see myself, how I’m gonna do in that situation. [Narrator] Schumacher admitted his fitness, was below its normal high level, but said he felt capable of winning the Malaysian race, even though he had not yet done a full simulated race distance, in testing since his crash earlier in the year.
As I said before, I mean, obviously my fitness is not, uh, as it used to be before. Uh, on the other side, it’s not, uh, that poor either. And… hot weather, tough race, for sure, it can affect on one side, and, various weather circumstances, uh, you never, able to predict them in a, in a 100% way, so, if there’s gonna be rain dry, rain dry, and, uh, or a thunderstorm, you never know what will be the right decision, so, it can affect everyone.
[crowd cheering] [Narrator]: The year ended with Schumacher receiving a hero’s welcome, as he attended a traditional end-of-season Ferrari open day, at Vallelunga racetrack. Ferrari tifosi, or fans, were on hand in the thousands, to support their favorite team, which had won the Constructor’s prize in Formula One.
Schumacher was obviously relishing the adoration, of the team’s faithful fans, that turned up in chilly weather, and chanted his name repeatedly. Although thwarted in the ’99 Drivers’ title, this was Ferrari’s way of saying, that they will be back next year with a vengeance.
♪♪ The new millennium ushered in a new era, and a change of fortune for The Red Baron. Schumacher had recovered from injury and controversy, and his winning drives were reminiscent, of the heady world championship years of the mid 90’s.
After a year-long battle with Häkkinen, Schumacher won his third World Championship. During the year he had clocked up 41 wins for his F1 career, equaling the number of wins won by his idol, Ayrton Senna.
An emotional Schumacher broke into tears, at the post race press conference. Schumacher was back, and he was out to show the world what he could do. Well, Michael Schumacher has shown such dominance, right from the beginning of this season, Ferrari cars probably better than it’s been ever before.
So, you see a huge influence on his own technical ability, inside the team, uhm, and I think we should just enjoy him, because he is the world’s best driver and while he’s around. Uhm, I think for sure he will be the champion.
[Narrator]: In a season that saw only four other drivers win races, 2001 continued the run for the record breaking Schumacher. With the first ever 1-2 finish by brothers in Formula One, after the Canadian Grand Prix, where Schumacher finished second to his brother Ralf.
And he also topped Alain Prost’s record, for most career wins. Schumacher scored his 52nd career win, at the Belgian Grand Prix, and took his fourth Drivers’ title, with four races yet to run.
He had finished the championship with 123 points, 58 ahead of nearest rival, Coulthard, and won a record tying nine times. 2002 continued to be a year of domination for Ferrari, and champion pilot, Schumacher.
Despite suffering the embarrassment, of a $1 million fine from the FIA, after the Austrian Grand Prix, when teammate, Rubens Barrichello, had slowed under team orders, and allowed Schumacher to win the race.
Jeered and booed by fans on the podium, Schumacher stood back, to let Barrichello take the winners cup. The tifosi were back on Schumacher’s side, when he took the French Grand Prix, and equalled the record of the 1950’s champion Fangio.
The Argentinean Juan Fangio, was considered the best driver of all time, taking the Drivers’ title five times, between 1951 and 1957. Ferrari won 15 out of 17 races, and Schumacher won the title with six races remaining in the season.
Schumacher broke his own record, of nine race wins in a season, shared with Nigel Mansell, by winning eleven times, and finishing every race on the podium. He finished with 144 points, a record-breaking 67 points ahead of the runner-up, his teammate, Rubens Barrichello.
The 2003 season started with an outcry from Formula One teams, accusing the FIA of trying to ‘dumb down’ Formula One. The FIA had introduced a host of rule changes, including one lap to qualify, and no refueling between qualifying and the race.
Engineers would no longer be able to re-map settings, using telemetry and traction control, and launch control systems would also be phased out. The reigning Formula One champ, said the rule changes would not have a dramatic impact, on the outcome of races.
Michael said he enjoyed the benefits of hi-tech assistance, but had plenty of experience of driving without them, under previous regulations. For me, I prefer the one where, you have all the technical possibilities, because I don’t like to take compromises in the race car.
I like to make a race car as fast as possible, and, uh, all the electronics have helped that. But obviously that’s the same for everyone, and if there’re changes, then again is the same for everyone. I’ve dealt with, uh, the other system before, so I will deal with them as they come.
Schumacher was convinced a good team would remain a good team, whatever the rules. So, I don’t see that I should, [stammering] or any, any, good driver, should, uh, take the advantage by a big amount.
The only way I could see that and I would agree, is in the rain condition. Because in the rain condition, Uhm… I believe, without traction control in particular, it will be very, very difficult, and, uh, you need a lot more feeling, in order to, to be, uh, on the pace.
On the same time, it will be quite a bit more dangerous. But, uh, that has been in the past the same and, uh, we have to deal with that, so, it’s gonna be a little bit more exciting. [Narrator] Throughout his racing career, Schumacher has attracted the unofficial title, of “The Rain Master.
“ After finishing third in the 1992 Mexican Grand Prix. He went on to take his first victory, at the 1992 Belgian Grand Prix, in a very wet race at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit.
By 2003, he would call this circuit, far and away his favorite track. He took his first win for Ferrari, at the Spanish Grand Prix in the wet, where he lapped the entire field up to third place, using an uncharacteristically flamboyant oversteering style.
The Ferrari driver, believed that some of the younger drivers would struggle, without hi-tech driving aids. He added that the younger drivers, with little or no experience, of driving without electronic aids, would probably be the first to suffer from the new rules.
It will change, for some young drivers who, seem to get on very easy with Formula One at the moment, to a certain speed. That will change because, uh, with the amount of power we have, with the amount of grip we have, if you imagine that we don’t have all those, uh, technical possibilities, which I’m sure they save, uh, quite a lot of, uh, problems for, for, young, uh, comers, uh, in Formula One because they be supported with all the systems, and you can make a car very safe, not the fastest, but, but safe, and they get the feeling, and you can, uh, get them into the system.
So that will be a lot more difficult in my view. [Narrator] Later in the year, rumors were rife that Schumacher intended quitting Formula One. There is nothing else I would wish to do.
As long as I am competitive, as long as I love, uh, to do what I’m doing, there is no need to think about, uh, stopping it, [Narrator] 34 year old Schumacher, repeatedly had to fend off questions about his future.
Main point is simply the love of the sport. Honestly… what could be better than to do what you love to do. To do it in a team where you be friends with everybody, and, and just things just go smoothly.
[Narrator]: At the time, Schumacher needed just one point, to overtake Juan Manuel Fangio’s record, and claim an unprecedented sixth world title. The 2003 season for the reigning champion, had not got off to a good start.
In fact, Schumacher ran off the track in race one, and in the following two, was involved in collisions. By race four, he was starting at a 16 points drop, behind Kimi Räikkönen.
Pulling himself back from the abyss, Schumacher won at San Marino Grand Prix, and the next two races, and closed within two points of Räikkönen. By mid-season, Schumacher’s further win in Canada, had been eclipsed by a dominating Williams team, his brother Ralf and Juan Pablo Montoya, had clocked up two wins a piece.
By The final round of the year in Japan, with Montoya out on penalties, after the U.S. Grand prix, only Schumacher and Räikkönen, remained in contention for the title.
Schumacher needed only one point, whilst Räikkönen needed to win. By finishing the race in eighth position, Schumacher gained the necessary point, two ahead of Räikkönen and assured his place, in the record books with his sixth World Drivers’ title, With four years of unprecedented success, behind them, Ferrari were heading into 2004, confident they would continue with their top achievements.
Basically, I foresee a very tough competition, for, for this year. We know our rivals are strong, but we will be strong too. I have no doubt. [Narrator] Taking the winners podium, in 12 of the first 13 races of the season, Schumacher recorded his seventh Drivers’ title, at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Now my life in Formula One is just very relaxed, and easy and nice. I just enjoy the time being here. We have a great success, my private life has been, uh, turning out in a fantastic way. Uh, it’s, it’s just a love dream I live.
♪♪ It’s time to start the new season so we are, we are looking for it, we know it will be very tough, because, uh, everybody wants to take over to Ferrari, because we have been so successful those last years, uh, but, uh, we are still very, very focused, very motivated, and, uh, hopefully, we are able to bring some more success to Ferrari.
[Narrator]: 2005 got off to a positive start for team Ferrari, and their ace, but it all went downhill from there. Was it the new tire rules? Or had the mighty simply fallen off their horse mid gallop? Less than 28 days later, the team’s new car, the F2005, was debuted.
This car had been brought forward by a month, to the third race instead of the fifth race, after a poor start to the season. It’s always, a great feeling to jump into a new car.
Particular, after what happened to us in Malaysia, getting our, kicked our butt, a little bit. It’s, it’s been great today to sit in it, feel it and drive it finally. [Narrator] Later in the year, after continuing poor performance, Schumacher was not quite so positive.
Last year, we came here with just answering the question, when are we going to win the championship? Uh, this year, it is the other way, when are we gonna lose it? Naturally, uh, it has been a big disappointment, in Istanbul after some sort of hope we have had in Budapest, and before in Hockenheim, in a way, but nevertheless, Ferrari is very strongly minded.
We have had very good years and we have had many of them, so it’s not so easy, to move us out of our sort of, uh, healthy relationship, I’d say, I’d call it like this. We still concentrated and motivated.
I mean, uh, after Budapest, there was obviously great hope that we will do it. After Turkey, the hope has shrink a lot. So, we have to see, when, uh, and have to be realistic, uh, it’s, it’s all within our work, whether we can be successful or not at all.
[Narrator] He might not have been winning, but at least Schumacher remained philosophical. It has been many great moments, I have been able to live in, in the ten years I’m roughly together with Ferrari.
The four wins in Monza, the wins in Imola, the wins in, all around the world, they have been very special, the championships. We’re suffering all together at the moment a little bit. But, I mean, you can’t always, uh, have the good life.
You sometimes have to suffer to see how good the life has been, and might be again. [Narrator] By year’s end, Schumacher had tallied just one win at the U.S. Grand Prix, which nobody noticed, as most of the field had withdrawn for safety reasons.
He had retired in six of the 19 races. He had finished the season in third with 62 points, less than half the points, of world champion, Fernando Alonso. And to add further speculation on his retirement, Schumacher said this, at the end of the season.
I have a contract which goes until the end of next year. At some stage, uh, next year, I will want to make up my mind, to how is my future looking. But, uh, full concentration is, first of all, to organize, and, and sort out the problems to be competitive next year.
[Narrator]: The run of six consecutive Constructors’ titles, that Ferrari had won, ended abruptly that year. Something had changed. And while 2006 was still young, speculation and rumors were rife, and at Ferrari’s winter retreat in Madonna di Campiglio, Schumacher refused to rule out the possibility, he might race for another team in 2007.
I think, honestly, uh, I, I said it, uh, very clearly and I really mean it. It’s 99% Ferrari. Nothing else. [Narrator] Team boss Jean Todt, said the Formula One team would not put any pressure, on the seven times world champion, to make an early decision about his future, beyond the coming year.
Although Schumacher was quick to reassure, the seven times Formula One world champion, said his Ferrari team was showing signs of improvement, having been woken up by last season’s poor results of 2005.
I think we can only have one target at least, and that is, uh, to win the championship. [Narrator]: Although The Red Baron was back, on the pace for the championship, he was not leading the field.
Schumacher fought Alonso’s lead, valiantly throughout the early rounds. And despite having won seven times throughout the year, Schumacher could see as the season progressed, that the chance of winning back the championship, was not possible.
After winning the Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari issued a press release, stating that Schumacher would retire from racing, at the end of the 2006 season. Following that announcement, former Formula One greats, such as Niki Lauda and David Coulthard, hailed Schumacher, as the greatest all-round racing driver, in the history of Formula One.
The Italian Ferrari tifosi paid tribute in the streets. [fans cheering and applauding] [Narrator] And back home, the German fans were distraught, for most of them, an era had come to an end.
Men, women and children were seen crying. Holger Hofmeier, a 35 year old professional soldier, said, “Michael is really a likable guy. He is a warm-hearted person, honest and open and the world’s best race driver.
Germans liked that. I liked it, my children liked it, my entire family. There is only one true race driver: Michael Schumacher.” ♪♪ Michael Schumacher, The Red Baron, is a seven time Formula One world champion.
He is quite simply the greatest driver the sport has ever seen, earning $650 million in salary and endorsements deals, putting him on par with superstar athletes, David Beckham and Tiger Woods.
By 2005, the German was the world’s first billionaire athlete. It was in Germany, that he won real hearts and endorsements. A German investment firm once paid him $8 million, over three years to wear their badges on his post-race cap.
In recent years, he has donated at least $50 million, to third world causes, including $10 million for aid, after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. His donation surpassed that of any other sports person, most sports leagues, many worldwide corporations, and even some countries.
His manager told the media, his goal is to turn the retiring champion, into an “advertising emperor,” as he keeps his existing personal sponsors, and works on new “super deals.
“ His total fortune now, reportedly, surpasses $800 million. For a man who thrived on speed, Schumacher did, and still does, avoid the Formula One party circuit, shunning the celebrity spotlight.
A family man, he now lives with his wife and children in Switzerland, in a castle he built for $50 million. So, the lanky kid from regional Germany, who became a dedicated kart racer, before he completed high school.
Has shown that whatever he desires to do, he does with such expertise and acclaim, that the world has watched in awe. His exceptional ability to pilot a Formula One car, ahead of the field, pulled the lagging Italian thoroughbred race team, Ferrari, back from the doldrums.
Amassing a record seven world championships, no other driver has come close to him. With his boyish good looks and charm, his unwavering devotion to his family, and his dedicated support to those less fortunate than him, all this combines to make the ingredients, for one exceptional human being.
For this is Michael Schumacher, The Red Baron. ♪♪