Michael Schumacher - A legacy that will live on
In terms of statistics, Michael Schumacher is the reigning Emperor of Formula One. I was never ever much of a Schumacher fan myself. Maybe this was due to the complete dominance that Ferrari had during the golden era of 2000-04 when the Italian team along with Schumacher won nearly every race making the competition a total one sided affair, something I felt was bad for the competition. There was no doubt that it was good driving but it was the exceptional car that did the job for Ferrari. Nonetheless, it still takes a champion driver to make a habit out of winning.
Schumacher was a talent that couldn’t have gone unnoticed. He was given an official kart license only at the age of 12 against all the rules. He had financial backing from his sponsors who always believed in him. With a decent start to his career in 1991 with Benetton, he started to catch upon the big names fast. He won his first driver’s championship in ’94, then won it again in ’95. Later he joined Ferrari in ’96 where he helped a struggling team to be at a place where it stands at the moment, tagged as the most successful team in the F1 history. Ferrari won its first constructor’s championship with Schumacher in ’99 after a long wait of 16 years. Then there was no looking back. Schumacher won 5 consecutive driver’s championships from 2004-05 with Ferrari and was nearly untouchable in the red dragon breaking every record that existed in the F 1 history.
He had this unbelievable ability to produce fast laps at crucial moments of the race, which was sometimes like living on the edge, one mistake and you are finished. And it was just that zeal to win that made him put himself and his machinery to the limits. Driving in the wet conditions is the ultimate test of a driver’s mettle and his 17 wins out of the 30 races that he has competed in leaves nothing for me to say. It even earned him the nickname “REGENMEISTER”, meaning the rain master. Ferrari was dominating so much that the FIA made some changes in tyre rules to make the competition more interesting. With the Bridgestone tyres, Ferrari and Schumacher were almost paralyzed but still finishing 3rd and 2nd in 2005 and ’06 season. And before his temporary retirement in 2006, from the 248 starts he had, he won astonishingly 91 races with 68 pole position and 7 drivers’ championships.
He returned to his much loved sport in 2010 with Mercedes but didn’t have the kind of comeback that everybody expected. Truthfully speaking it was a quiet and a dull performance by his standards. With the new Mercedes MGP W02 unveiled this February, the fans hope to see the old Schumi once again. It will be quite interesting to see whether Schumacher will be able to complete a century of race wins, which will be a new feather in his cap. This might be too much to ask from him but it’s very much possible if he could repeat the performances of 2002-04 .The new machinery with Pirelli tyres suits his driving style and we would surely love to see the German give his fellow drivers a run for their money.
Schumacher has started the new season in flying colours, bagging top spots on the Barcelona Tests . The old Brawn and Schumi combo will come for the title with all guns blazing and give the other teams a hard time this season.