He has been the reason behind millions (me included) who started watching Formula One and eventually turned into F1 fanatics. But that’s not the only achievement of a legendary driver, the Speed King, Michael Schumacher. He is by far the most successful driver in Formula One history.
Formula One’e popularity back in the 90′s across the globe , especially in the countries who were yet to witness the racing spectacle, can be attributed to Schumacher’s heroics on the track. His charisma as a driver on the track was undiminishing. Schumacher was a the legend in the making at a time when the Formula One fraternity was left stunned by the untimely and tragic death of another legend Ayrton Senna. It was only befitting that the baton was inevitably passed on to Schumacher to carry the sport to the next level and step into the shoes of the great Senna.
As he switched from Benetton to Ferrari, after winning two world-championships and a staunch rivalry with Damon Hill, he had announced his arrival in Formula One as a truly competitive driver. While he won races controversy shadowed his achievements. The stint with Ferrari was looked at upon critically given Ferrari were no longer the dominant team of the 70′s and were struggling to win races and missing out on championships. But Schumacher had the belief in himself of turning around the fortune’s of the beleaguered team and the rest we know is history. The success at Ferrari took some time coming but Schumacher was determined as ever. His rivalry with Mika Hakkinen and Jacque Villeneuve had the fans on the edge of their seats often. But the dominance was inevitable as he with Team Ferrari went on to register a consecutive five year winning streak (2000-2004)breaking virtually every record in the books and to become one of the greatest drivers in Formula One history. His ability to muscle the car in qualifying and then during races propelled by the ambition to win at any cost is what made him stand out from the rest of the pack. His ability to win in the most treacherous conditions on wet tracks remained unmatched and rightly earned him the nickname the Rain Master.
His dominance of the world of Formula One laid a foundation stone for many drivers to take up motor-sports,with the German as their idol and role model(one of whom we know was Sebastian Vettel). By the time he decided to quit the sport in 2006, the German star had made a long lasting impression on Formula One fraternity and fans alike. He had become the cornerstone for Formula One to move ahead in the years to come. The comparisons with the greats like Senna and Alain Prost were obvious enough but what needs to be understood is that the eras and the technology used in the cars were different and hence the comparison wasn’t ideal. But the greatness in their driving skills, abilities and achievements remained the common factor and the one’s to be cherished.
He was to return to the sport on the request of his long time friend and former colleague at Ferrari, Ross Brawn, to drive for Mercedes in 2010. While the stint wasn’t as successful as the previous one and he wasn’t at the pinnacle of his driving but Schumacher showed glimpses of the glorious past along with quite a few insights to offer to the fledgling team.
As a kid growing up in India you are supposed to be a cricket fan. But if you follow a sport that is not so popular in the country you need to have a good reason for it. My reason for following Formula One was Michael Schumacher. The sheer pleasure of watching the Master drive in the shining red Ferrari had me glued to the television almost every Sunday week after week.
Schumacher was quoted as saying “I can’t really imagine my life without Formula One” and all I can say is Formula One shall remain incomplete without the mention of Michael Schumacher.
Get Well Soon Schumi!